Why not just repaint the panel when it gets too many rock chips, instead of installing clear bra?
There are a couple of reasons to have the clear bra/paint protection film installed regardless, and it’s rooted in a lot of personal experience from us.
- The rate in which the bumper will reach needing the clear bra/PPF replaced is far slower than for an unprotected bumper, which will accumulate damage and rock chips much faster.
- The clear bra will outright eliminate most rock chips, aside from the most severe, which the paint protection film CAN be punctured for. However, most rock chips that you see in someone’s car bumper could have been prevented altogether with clear bra, without it actually damaging the film itself.
- Time. Body shops are expensive and backed up, but you never know how long they will keep your car to repaint the bumper if you decide not to go with clear bra. Our Corvette was in the body shop in Killeen for over three months trying to get them to make the paint right, and they never got it quite right, anyhow.
- Quality of paint work. I have yet to find a body shop I trusted in the Copperas Cove/Killeen/Harker Heights and surrounding areas. We had the front clip of our C7 Corvette Stingray repainted to prepare for clear bra, and after three months, it still was flaking and chipping. We have seen other instances where there are paint runs, painters tape lines, you name it.
- Cost. People underestimate the actual cost to repaint a bumper. Some front bumpers are more complicated than others, and therefore require more assembly and disassembly (R&R – removal and replacement). Furthermore, most body shops, in our experience, do not do a quality job refinishing/polishing the paint after the fact, which means you need to hire someone to do it yourself, or buy a polisher yourself and do it.
- Broken pieces. Cars are increasingly more and more complicated devices, and between wiring, plastic tabs that are sometimes one use, etc – you never know how well the car is going to fit back together, or if it will rattle, or have other issues. We see this all the time. We recently did a Kia Stinger that was clearly removed and replaced to install and uninstall a vinyl wrap, and many of the tabs on reflectors and other similar pieces were broken, leaving trim and lights barely hanging on. It created a lot of extra work for us when we were doing the clear bra/paint enhancement/ceramic coating in terms of liability, and having to be careful things didn’t fall off or break further.
- Overspray. Many times the body shops will try to cut corners and you might end up with overspray from the paint or clear coat on the rest of the car, which then requires a professional auto detailer (or a lot of time, or both) to remove, which increases replacement cost.
- It might not match. Some colors are harder to match than others, especially cars with unique metal flakes. Trying to get a similar concentration of metal flake in the paint at the autobody shop might be very difficult to replicate. When that happens, no amount of paint correction or detailing, or ceramic coating and clear bra, will cover it up and blend it together.
These are all legitimate points to consider when you’re determining whether or not you want to install clear bra on a vehicle, and weighing the cost-benefit. Many people think they will need to replace the clear bra every couple years, eliminating most reasons to spend the money on clear bra over repainting. However, clear bra is not what it once was, and major brands warranty against yellowing, fading, and cracking for at least ten years. If you add a ceramic coating on top of the clear bra, it will likely last even longer.