Is Windshield Protection Film Worth It?
Auto Trends | 6 min read
Published: February 16, 2023
When it comes to maintaining and caring for our cars, it feels like there’s new technology being developed daily to protect or maintain our precious ride, and it gets tough to separate the “must have” from the “nice-to-have”.
One thing that is increasingly in the ‘must-have’ category is windshield protection. Whether you’re on that daily commute grind, use your car for essentials only, or a die-hard car enthusiast, windshield protection film has become an essential investment for maintaining almost any vehicle in 2023.
In this post, we’ll explore the top reasons why every driver should consider windshield protection film, including a breakdown of the cost benefits, time savings, and secondary perks of protecting your windshield.
If you’ve ever wondered if there’s a product out there to protect your windshield from rocks while you’re driving - you’re in luck. Windshield protection film is a thin, completely transparent film that is installed on the outside of your windshield to make it more impact resistant and prevent rock chips or pitting. Think of it like a phone screen protector, but for your windshield.
Most windshield protection films are made up of a few layers laminated together:
1. A high-strength, ultra-clear adhesive layer (this is what helps it stick to the windshield)
2. A flexible polymer substrate layer (this is what absorbs the impact of anything that hits the film)
3. A protective coating that makes up the exterior of the film (this varies depending on type and brand of windshield protection). As an example, ExoShield’s windshield protection film uses a nanoceramic hardcoat which prevents the wiper blades from scratching the film during normal use.
These films have come a long way since they first came on the market a decade ago, and premium-quality films typically have excellent optical clarity and won’t interfere with your driving experience or with the sensors & cameras that are mounted behind the windshield of most new cars. In general we recommend looking for a high-quality PET-based product, since that will give you not only the best performance in terms of impact protection, but also the best overall optical clarity and longevity.
The cost for windshield protection film depends on a few factors:
- The brand and quality of windshield protection film that you choose
- Whether the product is installed yourself or by a professional installer.
- The size & shape of your windshield: large windshields with a high degree of curvature are the most difficult to install on, which can drive up the cost to you due to more labor time
- Your market: labor rates tend to vary based on where you live, and this will affect the labor costs to install any restyling products on your vehicle, not just windshield protection.
In general, windshield protection can range from $180 for a DIY windshield protection film for Jeeps, to $800+ for custom installs on difficult windshields. The best way to find out the cost for your particular windshield is to contact an installer for a quote.
Your windshield is no longer just a piece of glass that stops bugs from flying into your mouth while you’re driving on the highway. These days your car comes equipped with important safety features like automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, and lane departure warning systems - just to name a few.
Don’t get us wrong, these features are great, and we strongly recommend looking for vehicles with as many of these safety features as possible when buying a new car, but that doesn’t mean there are no downsides.
While these systems tend to be fairly robust and reliable during normal operation, even small changes to your windshield’s integrity can affect these sensors drastically. Car manufacturer’s are very aware of this, and have mandated that any time your windshield is repaired or replace, a full recalibration of the sensors and cameras behind the windshield needs to be performed by a trained technician before you can drive your car. Some have even gone so far as to say that you are required to replace your windshield with OEM glass, and we expect this trend will start to grow. Basically we can pretty much all say goodbye to cheap windshield replacements in the future!
This has driven the cost of windshield replacement up to $1800+ on average - and that’s not just for supercar owners. All that to say - it’s probably best to avoid having to replace your windshield.
One of the most common things we hear from drivers is that they have windshield insurance, so don’t have to worry. If that’s the case - great! We always suggest taking advantage of the benefits that are available to you, and in some states, free windshield replacements or comprehensive coverage plans are actually required by law, in which case the financial burden of windshield replacement is no longer on you.
For the rest of us, it’s important to take a close look at your insurance policy and what it actually covers. While windshield replacement may seem routine, there are often caveats, like having to go to a specific glass shop in order to be eligible for coverage, in which case you may not be getting OEM glass or a proper recalibration done on your vehicle.
On top of that, we’ve heard horror stories of drivers who have frequent windshield replacements seeing unexpected rising premiums over time, even if their up front cost to replace the windshield is small.
Depending on the car you drive, preserving the original parts in your vehicle may be important to you (we’re looking at you Porsche owners!). Whether you plan to show off your car at the top shows this year and want to make sure you keep it looking spotless, or just value having the original windshield in place (the fit is always the best the first time), having something that can protect your windshield and act as the sacrificial layer is a must!
This one may not matter as much if you plan on driving your car until it stops dead on the side of the road, but for anyone with a rare, classic, or ultra-luxury vehicle, you know that maintaining the resale value of your car is essential. Taking care of your car and making sure it’s in great condition is one part of it, but making sure to preserve essential parts like the windshield can also have a big impact on how much you’ll be able to sell it for when that day comes.
Especially in older or very high-end vehicles, the quality of the seals around the windshield coming out of the factory are the best you’ll ever get. Even a top trained glass professional won’t be able to replicate the exact fit that the machines at the factory are able to achieve, and anyone who’s making the investment to buy your vehicle is almost certainly going to care about these details!
A protective layer to help reduce the chance of unnecessary windshield replacements is probably the most cost effective way to make sure you get the most out of your vehicle when it comes time to sell your ride (and hopefully invest in the next, even better one).
Aside from the brand and type of windshield protection technology you choose, finding a reputable installer is half the battle. Look for installers who have been trained or certified in windshield protection film installation, since the process is not quite the same as installing other services like tint or paint protection film. The installer’s confidence and skills are what will give you that clean, picture perfect install, so you can drive with peace of mind without even noticing that there’s a film on the surface.Every ExoShield installer is trained and vetted by our team before offering the service to customers, so if you’re looking for a place to start, check out our installer map to find a shop near you.
Looking for a windshield protection film installer?
Check out our map to find our list of certified windshield protection film installers.Visit Map
Think you have what it takes to be an ExoShield Partner?
Join the fastest growing network of installers