Recently I was fortunate to purchase one of my dream cars, a 2023 Porsche GT4. A mid-engine, naturally aspirated and manual transmission sports car is becoming a dying breed. I was both overjoyed by the opportunity and committed, after carefully driving the seven miles home in a New England snow flurry, to protect the car’s Shark Blue finish. Paint protection film (PPF) was my first order of business.
The idea is to protect the car’s paint from the elements and any potential road damage. PPF is a transparent polyurethane film applied to the body panels that provides an extra layer of protection to the paint’s clearcoat. When applied with a professional’s hands, it looks nearly invisible. Car enthusiasts agree: PPF is better installed earlier than later. With only 48 miles on the clock, I chose to wrap the GT4’s front bumper, front fenders and mirror caps in XPEL Ultimate Plus, applied by Heath Jackson, the owner at Good Work Wraps in York, Maine.
- Protects the car’s paint from scratches, swirls and small road debris; Self-heals with heat application
- Helps maintain the car’s resale value by keeping the paint in like-new condition; 10-year warranty
- Improves the car’s appearance by providing a glossy pristine finish and is easy to clean
- Expensive and prices vary wildly; Due to materials and the precise skills required, a PPF job is labor-intensive and can cost anywhere from roughly $500 for a bumper to $4000 or even higher to wrap an entire car
- PPF may not be necessary for all cars or driving environments, especially if the car is not regularly driven or exposed to road debris
- Not a DIY job; Improper application can lead to bubbling or peeling over time
XPEL is one of the most popular brands on the market these days and for good reason. It is a self-healing film that can repair scratches and swirl marks that appear on the film with the application of heat. The film is also resistant to yellowing and staining, ensuring that your car will maintain its pristine appearance for years to come. Additionally, it provides protection against small impacts, such as rocks or gravel, that could otherwise damage the paint. One of the main advantages of the Ultimate Plus film is its thickness. The film is 8 mils (0.008 inches) thick, which provides a high level of protection while still being virtually invisible. This thickness also means that the film can absorb impacts that would otherwise damage the paint. However, it is important to note that this thickness can also make the film challenging to install. Don’t try doing it yourself.
Another feature of Ultimate Plus is its hydrophobic properties. The film repels water, making it easier to clean and reducing the chance of water spots. Since I was only doing the front of the car with PPF and applying ceramic coating to the rest of the car, I felt this combination was the best way to keep the car protected while not overspending. The hydrophobic properties also mean that dirt and road grime are less likely to stick to the surface of the film, making it easier to keep your car looking clean.
Unfortunately, there is a downside to PPF: Money. Because I had it installed by a professional, XPEL Ultimate Plus is one of the more expensive films on the market and the cost can increase significantly depending on how much of your car you wrap and the exact car you have. A good shop will cut the film in-house for your car’s panels, but if your car has complex surfaces (air intakes, diffusers, and other tricky bits), the labor to fit these surfaces will be much higher than in a car without them. Also, most top PPF brands like XPEL sell only to authorized installers; You cannot buy XPEL or most similar quality films in the bulk required on Amazon or other retailers.
However, the cost of PPF may be worth it when you consider the potential cost of repainting your car or repairing damage caused by road debris. PPF is particularly popular with sports cars due to their low aerodynamic design which puts them at increased risk of potential damage from road debris that doesn’t affect higher-riding vehicles quite so much. XPEL warranties Ultimate Plus for 10 years, after which it’s recommended to remove the old film.
Another potential downside to using PPF is the maintenance required to keep it looking its best. While the hydrophobic properties of the film make it easier to clean, it is still important to wash the film regularly to prevent dirt and grime from building up. Additionally, the film may need to be polished periodically to maintain its clarity and shine.
Is XPEL Ultimate Plus worth the investment?
That’s for you to decide, but for me, I absolutely think it was. Here are some questions to consider:
How long do you plan on keeping your car? If you plan on keeping your car for several years or more, the investment in PPF may be worthwhile as it can help maintain the resale value of your car.
Do you frequently drive on roads with loose gravel or debris? If so, the added protection provided by PPF may be necessary to prevent damage to your paint.
Are you willing to pay for professional installation? While it is possible to install PPF yourself, professional installation will ensure a proper fit and minimize the risk of bubbles or creases in the film.
Are you willing to commit to regular maintenance? Keeping the film clean is necessary to maintain its appearance and effectiveness.
In my experience, the Ultimate Plus XPEL PPF is an excellent investment for those who want to protect their car’s paint and maintain their car’s appearance and value over time. While the initial cost may be high, the benefits of protection and easier maintenance make it a worthwhile investment.