While most of the windshield protection films installers offer today have high clarity (in other words, you can barely tell they are on the windshield), talk to your installer to find out if there are any issues you should watch out for.
Some films may be more prone to distortion, which can make driving annoying, or can make you feel dizzy on longer trips. Typically a film that is installed like PPF needs to be stretched to fit the windshield, which may cause it to have higher distortion than a film that is moulded to the windshield using heat.
We could go on forever about the technical details of this (in fact, we have), but in short, the type of technology used to make the film will determine how the film responds to sun exposure.
Exposure to the sun (or more specifically UV radiation) can be pretty harsh on all windshield films, but especially ones characterized as a TPU film (the same material used for PPF) and polymer-based (sometimes referred to as “self-healing”) topcoat. This type of film contains fewer UV-stabilizing molecules, which causes the material to break down more quickly when exposed to the sun. In contrast, films with a PET base typically use a ceramic-based topcoat which does a better job of preventing UV damage.
Asking your installer how the film holds up in high UV is a great starting point. You can also ask them what type of material the film is made of, since this will give you a lot of insight into how it will hold up in your climate.
All reputable windshield protection film products are made of multiple layers that serve different purposes. The middle layer is usually the soft, shock-absorbing material (usually made of a polymer like PET or TPU) which is protected by a topcoat layer. This topcoat layer is designed to protect the soft layer from getting scratched as soon as you run your wipers.
But this is where it gets tricky - the material used for this topcoat will affect how it behaves. There are really only two types of topcoats on the market: ceramic-based coatings or polymer-based coatings. Both have their pros and cons, so it’s important to know which one you’re getting.
A nanoceramic topcoat is made of tiny ceramic particles that create a very hard surface that is difficult to scratch. This type of coating actually prevents scratching by the wiper blades, and tends to last a long time on the surface. This nanoceramic coating is most similar to glass and will have the same look and feel as the bare windshield.
Summary: Ceramic-based coatings create a hard surface that is more difficult to scratch, and have the look and feel of glass.
Although both types of coatings technically contain polymers, polymer-based coatings tend to be much softer than ceramic-based coatings. These coatings are sometimes referred to as “self-healing” - which is a fancy way of describing the fact that the polymer is highly moldable, and will rearrange itself to fill in minor scratches in the surface of the coating. This self-healing property can be effective at removing micro-scratches from the surface of the film when exposed to heat, but typically does not last long and may need to be regularly reapplied.
Summary: Polymer-based coatings will heal most minor scratches, especially in hot environments, but tend to have significantly shorter lifespans.
A product’s warranty will tell you a lot about a product. Requesting a copy of the warranty document, or asking some basic questions about the warranty coverage for the products your installer offers can prevent you from getting into a tough situation down the road.
Look specifically at the warranty term length (can range from 1-2 years) and if there are any extra instructions you need to follow for the the warranty to be valid (e.g. special maintenance, required surface treatments or specific care instructions)
Regardless of which windshield protection film brands your installer offers, you should make sure that you are fully informed of all care and maintenance instructions at the time of purchase. While you’ll need to take certain precautions regardless of the film (some basic things like no power washing, regular cleaning, ensuring wipers are in good condition etc.), some films may require monthly or even weekly application of a coating to ensure they work properly.
Asking your installer about this up front will avoid the added cost and hassle down the road if that’s not something you’re interested in!
As much as the brand of windshield protection film matters, the installation is also a very important factor in whether or not you’ll have a good experience. Many installers who have been properly trained will display certificates on their walls, but if you don’t see one - just ask!
You can also check out their website and instagram to see if they have any photos of their work to help you make a decision.
Whenever you’re investing in a new product for your vehicle, it can be tough to know what you don’t know.
Don’t be afraid to ask your installer the tough questions up front. It will make sure that they’re helping you make the right choice for you and your car.
To talk to a professional installer and get more information specifically for your vehicle - find a Certified ExoShield Reseller near you.
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