Pros and Cons of Clear Bra Paint Protection Film

Updated 06/13/2017

Paint Protection Film on 2007 Grey Ferrari 612 Scaglietti

Basically speaking, a paint protection film is 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
  • The only real way to prevent matte paint from scratching (XPEL Stealth)

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 its 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. 

  • 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 (if left unprotected)

What To Do?

In the past, we said that regular waxing would be enough to keep your car’s paint in good shape. That’s simply not true. Wax doesn’t protect much because it doesn’t last more than a month. It’s not scratch resistant and it does nothing other than provide beautiful gloss. 

Additionally, wax is out of the question when it comes to matte paint. We’re matte paint care experts so we have to mention the flat finish.

Fortunately, the issues of yellowing, fading, and discoloration can be avoided entirely if the paint protection film is properly protected. Isn’t protecting a protective film redundant? No! The film protects against scratches and a coating like Formula 1201 (or Matte Paint Coating to protect XPEL Stealth) keeps the film in great shape.

So, the absolute best way to keep scratches from damaging your paint is to get a clear bra and then apply a nano coating on top of that to keep the film from discoloring. 

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

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  • 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.

        • Being familiar with getting lots of vehicles wrapped or partially wrapped for advertising on a National franchise we own……..my question would more be why there would not be a discoloration if/when bra or wherever is removed more from the rest of the car being exposed to sunlight etc, but the film part not being exposed…….not from being under the film. Hope that makes sense.

          Also, very few people are really good at applying wraps and I certainly would not try and do this myself but that’s just me. I’ve seen enough pros do sloppy wrap jobs.

          • @fredhassen:disqus Great question! We actually sat down with the guys from 3M and we learned a lot ourselves!
            The reason there is no discoloration from where the clear bra is and where it is not is because they purposefully do not put any UV blockers in the product. This allows the same amount of exposure to sun and an even paint finish even when the clear bra is removed.

            Will
            @DrBeasleys:disqus

  • volvoguy

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

  • Joe,

    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.

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  • 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 Clearmask.com) and much happier…

    • Saqib Butt

      Hi are you in U.S. Or uk

  • 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.

    • Lee McLaughlin

      I have a 2007 Mercedes Benz SLK 55 AMG. I got the invisible bra put on right away. It is black in colour. I had the entire hood done, along with the nose and the mirrors. I helped out the guy at his shop put mine on. After it was done and heat dried. He sprayed a clear coat over it. He sprayed it lightly several times. I still have the car today and the paint on the hood is so shiny it looks brand new. I will spray wax it and then give it a hard shell wax. The car is now ten years old and the bra does not peel nor does it have a yellow tint. Some comments I read, people said don’t put nothing on it, just live with it. Well you also have to think about acid rain if you don’t have protection, also if you live by any factories the soot settles on your cars etc, etc, So personally it is worth it to me. I just bought a new car 2017 and its going to the same shop here in Michigan to get the same as I done to my benz. There are always pros and cons about everything, in life. The key is though, if you have an expensive car you have to protect it from that acid rain. Clay bar works but it doesn’t get it all out. Also with the bras your not going to have to worry about that or fading. Of course this is My opinion only. Good luck everyone with your cars and hot rods and on your decision. After all your the who has to pay for it.

  • 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.

  • Ben Leone

    Not worth the money. I see many turned into a dull mess over time. Why buy a high end car and cover it with a shopping bag. Just stay off the interstate as much as possible. Dont follow closely if possible. Use your beater car on the highway. I have four collector cars, I wont take them on I-95. I take my daily driver on I-95 and it is slightly blasted, but I touch it up. It looks a lot better than this clear film scam to make money. I have a customer with a black Tesla who insisted on the film. He really ruined the look of the great finish the cars have on them. Paintxpert Shine Since 1969!

    • maxxweber

      Why own a garage queen?

  • Ben Leone

    I rip that SH– off at least 3 cars per year. It yellows, it peels at the edges as the adhesive dries out, almost certainly, it looks horrible, it has little or no gloss and it really DETRACTS from the vehicle, be it a Maserati or a VW. Just my take on things, Be well! Happy Motoring!

  • Welding Helmet Lens Cover

    Protection is the key reason behind installing PPF. Actually, it’s the only reason. Whether you’re looking to protect the front bumper from some paint chips and bug splatter, the entire front end from road debris or preserve the entire paint job by wrapping the whole vehicle, protection is the goal.

    Uv Face Shield

  • Chita Phong Phanh

    Hi All, I have a frozen black M3, I’m looking to drive it cross country but, worried about the damage. Being that my car is one of a kind (they made 20 coupes & 1 convertible), would you recommend a clear bra? The paint is a matte/pearl finish. Any thoughts?

    • Hi Chita,

      Thanks for reaching out to us. A clear bra is a great way to protect your paint, especially when you’re driving cross country. XPEL Stealth is a matte clear bra that as far as we know, is safe for all matte paints.

      If you want to get a matte clear bra, find an installer near you and take time to talk to them about the pros and cons of XPEL Stealth specifically and clear bras generally.

      You might also consider contacting BMW to see if they have any insight about the specific type of paint on your M3 and how it interacts with a clear bra.

      Hopefully that helps. If you need anything else, let us know.

      • Chita Phong Phanh

        Thanks so much! I’ve decided to go with enclosed carrier to avoid any damage. It ends up saving money in the end. Many thanks. Happy New Year!

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  • AceOne

    I road race and Auto cross my 2011 Mustang GT/CS monthly and had Xpel Ultimate installed. It has protected my cars paint from orange cone contact and rock chips for years. It self heals and can’t be seen on the car unless your 3 ft away and that is just the occasional edge. The surface can actually be smoother than the factory orange peel. I will have it on my new 2016 Mustang GT by the end of the week and will be installing it on The Mustang GT 350 R I have on order. Xpel has protected my car even from my son backing into my car’s bumber and no damage to the paint where the Xpel was on the bumber. The was an area of contact where there was no Xpel and the paint was damged. Thankfully it was only a small area less than an inch in length. I peel off the Xpel which took all the abrasion damage and just put a new Xpel bumber section piece on. My cars are raced ever month and have been on display at SEMA in Las Vegas for three years and have never yellowed. If you choose the best products you will be very satisfied with the product. I highly recommend finding a meticulous installer also. That will make a huge difference too. I also recommend you do it as soon as you get the car or promptly after any repainted before you have any rock chips. The film doesn’t hide imperfections completely up close but from 5 ft away it will look great.

  • Ben Leone

    Just amazing, what folks will spend their money on. Hark! I see $$$$$$, hence the automotive industry. Clear film detracts from a high end vehicle. Shine Since 1969, Home of the “Invisible Garage Protection” Tm. r.

  • Ben Leone

    Had another customer call with clear plastic on their Black Porsche. He paid close to 1400.00 dollars to have it installed. Car was two years old. I told him the only think I could help him with, would be REMOVAL. I gave him a price and he went away disgusted. I tell folks, if they install this stuff, they are wasting their money. No one seems to heed my advice. Paintxpert Shine Since 1969!

  • L Bot

    Joe, get a life!

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  • paul

    why not simply spray another layer of clear coat paint on the vehicle ?

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  • San Ramon

    Just got a 2017 Q7 ink blue..love the color…and wondering what the cost might be to put the film proection…my dealer said he has an option at XPEL ultimate for 7 years for $844 , not sure (or forgot ) what exactly it was

    • Hi there,
      The cost of XPEL installation depends on how much of the car you get covered as well as who installs it. The best way to find out exact pricing is to contact your local detailers. Let us know if you have any other questions, thanks!
      -Dr. Beasley’s Team

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  • arcsinice

    I principally live in a region of the nation that realizes the greatest full seasons throughout the year, most certainly winter. Come Spring, if not before, there exists a great deal of grit on the road that is thrown by all vehicles, thus precipitating enormous pitting of vehicle and windshield. Inasmuch as some complain about the visual impact plastic film has on a vehicle – and I agree – to witness your vehicle pitted beyond compare in a given year with the only solution a full repaint (factor the cost on that – hello, as well, the visual difference as paint never matches original factory), clear bra for myself and many others has proven itself unparalleled. And, at time of trade in, there is no regret. I still see to it that the vehicle(s) is subject to routine detailing, full maintenance and the like but would not think of not having the clear bra throughout various portions of a given vehicle.

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  • Darkfellow Hawk

    I had mine professionally installed (full protection) on a MB ML since 2005 and it is still holding strong. No yellowing, no peeling and self healing. It has been through harsh Syracuse, NY winters and hot Florida/Humid Louisiana summers. I have only good things to say about the film and installation. The installer used a 3M type film and offered me lifetime warranty.

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  • Karen Drader

    I had a clear bra put on my vehicle two months ago. Sadly, a rock punctured the film, and now dirt and grime are collecting around the edges of the puncture. Since my vehicle is white, it is very easy to see this flaw. I’m so sad. I thought I was protecting my hood from rock chips, but one got me anyway! It tore right through the film that was suppose to be a protection.

  • Scott Simpson

    better off with a 9 hardness nano polimer

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  • Jim

    I have a 2004 Red Acura TL that has had a dealer applied bra since day 1. It has not peeled in the least. I can see the line but I can’t see how you could eliminate that. I live in MN with the snow and salt. With 120,000 miles on the vehicle with many miles at dusk with bugs smashing into the nose of the car there are no chips or little rust spots on the paint. The bra has not yellowed in the least. I guess I prefer the look of no bra at all but the clear bra certainly has done its job and more. I would strongly recommend having one applied when you buy a new car or you have your hood repainted. The line might bother you a little but get over it. Little rock dings and bug guts that rust the front would bug you more. It was $1000 in 2004. I probably could have gotten the hood repainted every 5 years instead. Waxing isn’t enough.

  • danmahfood

    First of all I would like to make it clear, that not all films and installs are “CLEARBRAS® I founded Clearbra®
    21 years ago. Yes it is a trademarked name. So when you bang on the word Clearbra® your slandering our product and service. If your going to talk about protective film, then it would be appreciated if you call it what it is…protective film. I can’t build an amusement park and call it Disneyland. And for those of you that think separating the word is legal ( Clear Bra ) read the federal law. (Disney Land), try that and see what happens.

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