These Features Make it the Best Windshield Protection Film
We’ve all been there - you’re driving down the highway and suddenly you hear that unmistakable sound of a rock hitting your windshield. And with all the tech behind our windshields in 2023, no one is looking forward to getting that bill to replace the windshield.
These rising windshield replacement costs are why more and more drivers are looking to products like windshield protection film to prevent windshield damage. As these films have grown in popularity, there have been significant advances in technology that have improved the quality of windshield protection film products, and there are increasingly new products entering the market. But with all of these choices, it can be tough to know which one is best for you, and since windshield protection film can be a bit of an investment, it’s important to do your research before making a decision.
In this blog post we’ll walk you through whether or not you even need windshield protection film (spoiler - it may not be for everyone!), what benefits to look for, and how to get the windshield protection film that’s right for you.
What is Windshield Protection Film?
If you’re already familiar with windshield protection film, feel free to skip this part. For everyone else, here’s what you should know:
Windshield glass is typically made of a laminated glass which is great for visibility, but is still brittle. This means that glass is inherently easy to break if you, say, throw a rock at it at highway speeds. The glass doesn’t do a good job of absorbing the impact of the things that hit our windshields on a daily basis - hence why windshield damage is one of the most frequent insurance claims.
WIndshield protection film is, to put it simply, kind of like an automotive-grade phone screen protector made specifically for your windshield.
It’s made of a much softer, polymer-based material than glass, which allows it to absorb and diffuse the force of whatever object hits it (within reason). This effectively “saves” the glass underneath since it doesn’t experience the same degree of acute force.
While it’s not bulletproof, adding a windshield protection film will significantly reduce the chances of that rock on the highway breaking your windshield.
Who Needs Windshield Protection Film?
There are many different reasons for choosing to protect your windshield, but the truth is that depending on certain risk factors, you may benefit more from having this product installed than others. If you fall into any one of these categories listed below, you need windshield protection:
Your commute is more than 30 minutes
Chances are that if you’re a commuter you’re spending a significant chunk of time on the road. Especially if you’re driving on major highways to get to and from work every day, you have ample opportunities for rock chips (and no, those transport trucks on the highway are not responsible for your broken windshield). If it’s your only vehicle, protecting your windshield may be even more important to you since no one wants the downtime of having to leave their car at the glass shop unexpectedly! Many commuters find that they can drive with just that little bit of extra peace of mind when they have windshield protection film installed.
The roads in your city are bad
If you live in an area with a lot of construction, gravel roads, or heavy truck traffic, you may be at a higher risk of windshield damage. If this is you, you’ve likely already considered whether or not there’s a way to protect not only your windshield, but your car in general thanks to the beating your vehicle takes every year! Certain cities like Calgary (Alberta) or Houston (Texas) are notoriously bad when it comes to dirt and gravel on the roads, so windshield protection is an absolute must if you live in either of these cities.
Your windshield is rare or hard to find
If you’re lucky enough to be the proud owner of a classic or ultra-rare vehicle, you need to protect your windshield ASAP. Sometimes these rare windshields can take as much as a year to get into your local glass repair guy, and really, who wants to wait that long to truly enjoy their prized possession? As a rule of thumb, if you’re driving anything exotic or rare it’s definitely worth protecting if you want to be able to stay out on the roads this summer.
Your car has Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)
You may not know it, but there’s some pretty advanced tech hidden right behind your windshield. If you look through your windshield from the outside, you’ll probably notice what looks like a sensor & camera right in front of the rearview mirror. These are the systems that help to feed information to your vehicle’s driver-assist features like lane-keeping assist or pedestrian collision avoidance. These sensors rely on being able to accurately detect your surroundings, so even something as simple as installing new glass can affect them.
That’s why it’s mandatory to recalibrate the sensors if your windshield is replaced or needs significant repair. As you may imagine, this results in added time and labor costs that - you guessed it - get passed down to you! Many drivers are shocked when they see a $1100+ bill for a simple glass replacement on their 2021 vehicle, but it’s actually pretty common.
You drive a Jeep or a Bronco (or anything else with a near vertical windshield).
We have a whole blog post about why Jeep windshields break so easily, but the reality is that any vehicle with a pretty flat, almost vertical windshield is at higher risk for windshield damage than average. If you own one of these vehicles - you probably already know you need protection and are just skipping ahead to the next section of this article anyway.
Windshield Protection Film Benefits: What to Look For
Once you’ve made the decision that windshield protection is a good idea, your research shouldn’t stop there. Windshield protection film can save your windshield, but it can also lead to headaches if you choose the wrong product. Here are a few of the features you should look into before pulling the trigger on your purchase:
The primary purpose of a windshield protection film is to protect your windshield from damage, so compromising on impact resistance is a no-go. A product designed specifically for impact protection first is a must.
We won’t get into the details of the technology here (we have this blog post for that), but typically, PET-based films have higher impact resistance inherently than urethane-based films due to inherent differences in how the material will react to small-object impacts. Of the available PET-based films, typically thicker materials will have higher impact resistance, but this can depend on how the film is constructed, so thickness alone is not necessarily better! When comparing products, look for details on impact resistance, breakage probabilities, or thickness specifications to get a sense of which one is better.
Depending on how you use your vehicle, longevity of the product may or may not matter to you. But if you’re driving your vehicle often, it’s important to choose a film that is durable and can withstand the day to day elements you’ll face on the road.
Keep in mind that it’s not just poor road conditions that degrade the film (although this will affect the overall lifetime), it’s also exposure to elements like sun or chemicals that can cause your windshield protection film to deteriorate faster. Make sure to look for a windshield protection film that has a high-quality topcoat (also called a “hardcoat” in some cases) that can protect the film from things like UV-degradation or chemical incompatibilities. This topcoat typically contains tiny nanoparticles that preserve the integrity of the film, making it much more durable in the long-run.
It’s also important to note that wiper-blade abrasion can often cause the film to become hazy over time, even in high-quality films. The product you choose should have a topcoat that effectively protects against prolonged wiper blade usage, otherwise it will likely need to be removed after the first few months.
While protecting your windshield is important, you shouldn’t sacrifice clarity for inexpensive or low-quality protection. While most films will look a little distorted immediately after installing them (usually due to trapped moisture under the surface), once the film has “cured” or fully dried out, it should be nearly undetectable and you’ll likely forget it’s even there.
Look for films that are designed to be optically clear and don't distort your view of the road to ensure that your driving experience is not impacted by the protection film. A premium quality film should be transparent, allowing you to see clearly in all weather conditions. Also keep in mind that applying a tinted film to your windshield is illegal in most US states and Canadian provinces, so be sure to look for a windshield protection film that has >90% VLT if you want to stay road legal.
Last, but definitely not least, you want to make sure to be aware of your warranty coverage (if any) when you purchase your windshield protection film. First of all, look for a film that comes with some kind of manufacturer’s warranty, as this will give you peace of mind knowing that you are protected against any defects.
The specifications for a good windshield protection film are very stringent, so making sure that you’re covered in the event of a product issue is key. You can expect a good warranty to cover the basics like peeling, bubbling, or delamination of the film’s layers. In addition to what the warranty covers, you’ll want to take note of how long the warranty coverage lasts since this will likely give you some indication of product expectations. For example, if warranty coverage is 6 months or less, you can generally expect the product to be less durable than a product with a 24 month warranty.
Finally, we also recommend looking into the warranty claims process for products you’re considering. Is there a simple online claims process or do you need to call 5 different numbers before submitting a warranty claim? In general, finding a brand that is easy to deal with will mean that your issues are resolved faster and more efficiently.
Where to Get Windshield Protection Film Near Me?
When it comes to choosing a windshield protection film, it’s more than just finding the right brand - it’s also finding the right installation method. Generally you have two options to choose from:
Option 1: Find a Certified Installer
For most of us, finding a professional installer to install windshield protection film on our vehicle is the only option. We’ll get to DIY later, but unless you drive a Jeep or a Bronco it’s unlikely there are any high-quality DIY options available to you. And this is for good reason - installing a premium windshield protection film is an art! Certified installers are trained and experienced in shrinking (aka molding) and installing the film on almost any windshield. ExoShield installers, for example, purchase the film in bulk and then cut and mold the film to fit your windshield perfectly.
Finding a good installer can be tricky. The first thing to look for is to check with the product manufacturer to find out where they have trained installers (sometimes called dealers or partners). These installers will have worked closely with the product and have all the necessary tools and skills to do a great job.
We also always recommend looking at reviews online, or checking social media accounts of any installers you’re considering. This will allow you to see what kind of work they specialize in, and will give you an idea of their quality of work. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions! Call a few installers in your area and ask about their experience with the product and what other types of products they offer. Chances are if they’re offering all the best film brands, they know how to produce quality work. A good installer should be able to answer your questions and provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision.
Option 2: DIY Windshield Protection Film Kits
If you drive a Jeep Wrangler or Ford Bronco - you may be in luck! These windshields are relatively flat, and there are specific DIY kits that have been developed to let Jeep and Bronco owners install the film themselves. ExoShield ULTRA is one option for this, and each kit comes with a piece of film that has already been cut and molded to fit the windshield as well as a set of tools you’ll need to install the kit yourself. The other good news is that ExoShield ULTRA kits actually use a thicker version of the standard windshield protection film, so you get added windshield protection with these kits on vehicles that need it most.
Learn More About ExoShield ProductsVIEW PRODUCTS
Looking for the right installer for your automotive protection film? Click here for a map of certified installers.
Looking for a windshield protection film installer?
Check out our map to find our list of certified windshield protection film installers.Visit Map