After buying my car with a mere 20k miles on it, I was amazed at how perfect the paint was. I could only spot one rock chip on the entire front end, and the car looked showroom new despite being almost 5 years old. I have never purchased a new car before so a clear bra was never really a consideration, but this would be about as clean of a slate as a used car could could get. Many of my friends with clear bras encouraged me to hurry up and get one, but as I shopped around I suffered sticker shock on the expense, especially since funds were tight after buying the car on the first place. After putting off the decision as to whether clear bra was worth it or not for a few weeks, I got two or three more small rock chips and that put me over the edge; I was going to try it out for myself before things got any worse and decide for myself if it was worth it or not.
The most popular clear bra brands are Xpel and 3M, but I figured if I was going to invest a significant amount of money in Paint Protection Film (PPF) then I might as well go with the best. After talking to some local enthusiasts, Auto Armour PPF in San Diego came highly recommended for both the attention to detail with the install, and the quality of the product. They recommend Xpel Ultimate which comes with a 10 year warranty from defects, including yellowing, which is especially important with a white car. The technology is also mind-blowing, with a “self healing” property that if you scratch the clear bra, the scratches will literally just disappear after 20-30 minutes of sitting in room temperature. I actually saw this in action after accidentally dropping a bottle of waterless car wash on my hood, seeing a scratch, FREAKING OUT, then coming back 20 minutes later after Googling what to do only to not be able to find the scratches anymore. This alone is probably my favorite part of the clear bra…how cool is that?
The film is also not only invisible, but it enhances the shine of the car. I did a paint correction prior to getting this installed using Meguiars DA Microfiber Correction Compound since I noticed the car had some water spots and minor marring from the previous owner, especially on the hood. This compound is a pretty heavy cut, so normally you would follow with a lighter compound to remove any small swirls caused by the heavy polishing; but after talking to Auto Armour, they said that the second and third stage polishing wasn’t really necessary and the clear bra would hide any minor imperfections. Sure enough they were right, the clear bra enhances the shine of the front end much like a fresh coat of wax and any minor swirls are completely invisible. I do plan to do a CQuartz Finest ceramic coating over top of everything eventually, but I’m pretty excited the clear bra means I’ll never need to do anything more than a light coat of wax to the entire front end of my car ever again…this will save me a lot of time detailing 🙂
So a clear bra makes the paint look freshly waxed, protects against rock chips, self-heals scratches, and has a 10 year warranty against defects…what is the downside? Well, they are expensive. Xpel does offer a pre-cut kit for the TT-RS, and to get the same level of coverage (full hood, fender, and mirror kit + rear wheel impact area) that I had done costs $1,019.90 + tax and shipping according to their website. You’ll then need to buy a handful of install tools, and plan to spend a full day (or longer) washing, claying, then trying to install. If you’ve ever tried to DIY install vinyl then you know how tedious and frustrating it can be, and this product is way tougher to work with than vinyl from what I’m told (and far more expensive if you screw up). Ultimately, I think a DIY install makes sense for VERY few people; if you’re going to have this on your car for 10 years, you want every edge to be perfect and with zero bubbles throughout, which a professional can handle with relative ease but a first-timer will likely fail miserably at. The installer sent me a picture of them installing on my car above, where they actually custom cut it to perfectly fit the car. You can also look at pictures throughout this post to see the level of precision, all seams and edges are virtually invisible. Installation costs range based on your car, level of experience of the installer, products being used, and parts being covered, but expect to pay anywhere from $1600-$2000 all-in for a partial or full front clip, which compared to the $1100 or so in raw parts makes the professional install decision a no-brainer.
A big thanks to Austin and the crew at Auto Armour PPF for the great job on my TT-RS. I’m excited to be able to hit the track and not have to worry about my paint getting damaged, and relieved not to have to worry about detailing and upkeep nearly as much as I would with raw & uncovered paint. They also added a few nice touches I wasn’t expecting including under the door handles, behind the rear tires, and the headlights. My best advice is this; if you’re considering getting a clear bra installed, and have never done it before, get it done ASAP and do not wait, as your paint will only get more chips and imperfections the longer you drag it out…and once you get it installed, you’ll be glad you did. Personally, I have zero regrets other than not getting this done the second I unloaded the car from the transporter. This stuff is way cool!