Pros and Cons of Clear Bra Paint Protection Film

2007 Grey Ferrari 612 Scaglietti with Clear Bra

Basically speaking, an automotive clear bra is basically a plastic wrap for potentially damageable regions of your car – lower fascia, side mirrors, rocker panels, and basically any surface facing directly toward the front/bottom of the car. The main use for a clear bra is, of course, to protect these areas from road debris that might kick up on the road and would otherwise leave a nice scratch or chip in your paintwork. Now you don’t often see these treatments on “average” cars because it generally costs somewhere between $900-$2500 depending on how many panels you want done and your car… remember, these things are typically custom cut (or made from a schematic of the vehicle) and hand applied. That said, I don’t mean to say you can’t get one on just about any car you want. Just do a quick search and you should be able to find what you’re looking for in no time. But what’s the clear bra all about? What are the positives and negatives? Lets take a look… Pros: In general, the idea behind a clear bra is great. It protects your paint for a long time and it’s hardly noticeable (for now). The major benefit here is that whether you’re driving a Carrera 4s or a Camry Limited, you can be confident in knowing you aren’t going to have to deal with an array of rock chips on your bumper when you get home from work. And if you live in the city, it gets even better. Annoying dings and scrapes from the jerks in your neighborhood trying to park all up in your grille? This clear polymer shield will make sure nobody scuffs your paint.

  • Longterm paint protection for troublesome areas
  • Prevents need to repaint bumper/fascia in a few years
  • Adds value in longrun, if properly maintained

Cons: At first, all seems to be well with the clear bra treatment. Overtime, however, the story begins to take on a new face – and I do mean literally. Almost every single clear bra wrap I’ve seen has turned a yellowish opaque color after a few years (depending on quality, and therefor price). Now maybe this doesn’t concern you, but if you’re going to put something on your paint to protect it, it better not ruin it’s looks. Next, while this plastic shield protects your paint, the bra itself is taking a beating. UV rays, scrapes, chips, and more are all extremely common on clear bras. In fact, if you don’t protect the clear bra, the plastic can actually dry out and become cloudy. And when you go to wax your car, you will find that along the edges of the clear bra a white buildup occurs that can leave an unsightly glowing effect. Almost makes you wonder, too, about the adhesive used to apply the wrap to the paint – it can’t be that good for the porous finish.

  • Relatively expensive for only a little bit of coverage
  • Not as durable as you’d think – if things (sap, etc.) are left on the clear bra, they can eat through the plastic and harm the paint
  • Aesthetically unpleasing… almost gag-worthy

In my opinion, a good ole wax will do as long as you’re applying regularly. No need for adhesives, chemicals, and worse, a plastic mask to cover up your brilliant finish. Take it with a grain of salt, but just check out how these things are applied… pretty crazy. More on clear bra’s later! Do you have a clear bra? We’d love to hear your input. Why do you like/dislike it? Has it paid for itself in anyway? Let us know in the comments!

  • Jeff Phillips

    There are solutions for most of the cons you mentioned for clear bras.

    The aesthetics largely depend on the brand of film used, the abilities of the installer, as well as the coverage you opt for. Some films definitely do have an unacceptable level of orange peel texture, but quite a few companies have released products that are much more optically clear, and much harder to see on the car. The second part of this equation is crucial. While many people claim they can install paint protection film, the amount of people that can actually do it well is a much lower number. COntact a film manufacturer to get their recommendation of the best certified installer in your area. The last factor that contributes to the appearance is the coverage. Even today’s precut kits offer wrapped edges to make the film much less visible. There are many options for precut kits, some which hide edges of smaller kits on body lines, and others that do not.

    The durability of the product firmly rests on the product you choose. While there are many products that look good when initially installed, there are large discrepencies when it comes to long term durability. You will want to find a film that offers a stain resistant clear coat. A quality clear coat should allow you to wipe away stains such as bird dropping and bug acids. This is commonly demonstrated by removing permanent marker on video. SOme of today’s products are actually self-healing, menaing that if you get scratches or swirl marks, they actually disappear without any need for buffing or maintenance. You will also want to keep in mind that the correct products must be used for the sirface of the film. WHile it looks like paint it is not. Natural products or purpose made products are best, as many cleaners and synthetic waxes contain petroleum distillates like naptha or kerosene that can dry out the film and cause yellowing or haziness. 90% of the kits that look discolored or cloudy are a vicitim of this. Check with the film manufacturer for the recommended care for their specific product.

  • Cruze away

    I have a chevy cruze thought the clear bra a good idea on a white car. Two months into it and by the handle the bra is browned and pulling off, I hope I am not imaging that it is taking on color and the edges I am always having to clean. I am thinking that waxing is a better idea I am calling the company to ask how to have it removed

  • Pingback: Top 10 Detailing Posts Of 2012

  • Rob

    Film on your car in 2013 should be a standard feature. I can find no “cons” at all, read following explaination for proof.
    Put a bra over the grill, 1/2 of the hood, above the windshield, back of the mirrors and behind each wheel on the rocker panel. This in 2005 by Toyota dealer on a new Avalon. RESULTS: the car looks as shinny and silver today (Feb 2013) as the day the film went on with one exception. The film behind two of the wheels became “unglued” on the front edge and slowly peeled off with no damage to tithe paint. I think that area is subjected to too much high speed water coming off the tires. My 2013 Avalon is having film applied as I write this. Use a tech with lots of experience, I suspect most dealerships do a fine job or send cars out to a detail shop they are confident in. Use best film available as there are still DIY kits where the film bubbles and turns purple in a year or two.

  • volvoguy

    My 2002 C70 Coupe, a nice car except for the clear bra. The original owner had it put on at the dealer. While I’m sure it helps prevent rock chips it looks terrible. Probably needs to be redone but more tempted to remove it, then polish and wax.

    • Eric

      Have 3m Clear Bra On my New at the time 2010 Dodge Challenger Red Hemi -Still looks great $560.00 total cost “Front bumper & rockers Lights /fog lights / over” Was done by a Pro- Still looks new 36k miles now all highway- miles best money I spent !!!!! I take my Car to Car Shows too

      • Snazy Blue

        Eric, do you suppose the 3M on Jazz Blue Pearl would look nice? I’ve seen it on darker cars and it looks faded and dull, and you can see the line where it ends on the hood.

  • volvoguy

    trouble uploading – resolved. See, it really detracts from the car!

  • Dr. Beasley’s


    Ours is the original post, this website you are referring to must have copied our post. If you look at the date on our blog post, you can see it’s been posted months before theirs.

    • Myname

      Lol! Owned the know-it-all.

  • BobbyDee

    I bought a new 2005 Expedition that already had the clear bra installed. It still looks great in 2014 and no chips at all on the hood. The paint is a dark blue so if there is yellowing, I probably can’t tell.

  • Thomas Brown

    Paints chip. No manufacturer makes paint that matches exactly because paint color changes over time. Don’t use touch-up paint unless the spot is going to rust, or looks really bad. You cannot add bras to cars after you bought it. The posts here make all this abundantly clear. Plastic does not hold up to years of abuse like paint does. Live with the paint and save yourself the $ 3,000 and all the headaches – that is what I have learned about this burgeoning industry. I got some with my car when I ordered it specifically, and might do that again, and maybe on more places – but the front of the car is going to take a beating. Live with it. Not everything in life is perfect, and this solution brings only more issues with it, rather than with the paint.

  • gregg

    I have done maybe 15 cars all with general good results. Installing requires patience and experience, but after a few you can really get good, and fundamentally, it does an amazing job keeping things almost perfect.
    However, I must say that the 3M product has been one of the worst for yellowing (and their warranty is very limited). On a white car that was garaged it really got noticeable very quick (less than a year)…other colors like silver hard to tell but I have switched and used the cheaper product (have bought all my kits from and much happier…

  • Paradise Man

    I had my clear bra on my 2009 Accord for 5 yrs. My cars are always kept in the garage at night. after 5 yrs, the car was read ended and the car was totaled……….texting broad was doing 60 mph and never braked as I was in stopped traffic. So at the body shop I got them to remove the bra from the front of the car where there was no damage. The paint matched perfectly where the bra met the un-protected paint. Even the body shop people were amazed. I always protected the car paint with spray detailers and spray waxes. No color difference AND where the bra had dents from rocks and other debris, the paint and bumper showed no defects whatsoever. I am putting a clear bra on my new 2015 car.

  • Paradise Man

    Also, there was no discoloration to the clear bra that I could see (car color was charcoal gray). It never lifted at any of the edges. and it kept the majority of its original shine. The bra was a 3M product. You have to maintain your cars. You cant wash them twice a month at the car wash, be a couch potato and expect them to look like new after 5 yrs. The rest of my car’s paint looked like glass (including under the bra), so there was no mis-match. I was disheartened with the loss of the car. Received a lot of compliments all the time on it. Keep some kind of car wax on the bra and car as often as possible. I spray waxed it twice a month and used the detailer twice a week. I found the best products were/are Griot’s Garage Spray On Wax and Spray Detailer. Makes your car’s paint look and feel like smooth glass all the time.