How protective car film works

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Most people aren't willing to grab a brass brush and drag it across a body panel on their fresh, clean car. Jason Fenske from Engineering Explained is here to do just that to show off a bit of science.

That science involves the protective film he recently applied to his cars, and it's the reason he's willing to scratch up least one of his rides. The good news is the film makes those scratches easily fixable.

Fenske had XPEL Ultimate Paint Protective Film applied to both of his vehicles. The front ends of his Honda S2000 and Subaru Crosstrek are covered in the stuff, and it's going to keep the paint shiny and scratch free. As long as the film itself isn't punctured, it will actually "heal" any scratches that happen from day-to-day driving.

The film is comprised of three layers. There's an adhesive layer that bonds the film to the body of the vehicle. The second layer is polyurethane that absorbs energy from random debris like small rocks, that come in contact with the car, to prevent paint chips. Finally, a clear layer sits on top and protects the film from yellowing over time.

When the film is scratched, you can apply heat to the affected area and the scratch will heal itself and disappear. This happens because the exterior of the material merely rearranges itself when scratched. While cool, the scratch remains in place, but if you apply some heat, the film reverts to its original shape and appearance. It happens at a molecular level, and it's quite fascinating to watch since it happens quickly. As long as the film isn't torn, it will continue to work in this self-healing manner.

Most folks cover just the front ends of their cars to protect against rocks and debris. Were you to cover an entire car with the film, you'd have to spend a fair amount of cash. Adding the film is on par with getting a quality paint job. However, it's a little better because the film protects your paint.

The film is expensive, but replacing body panels or repainting your car can be far more costly.

Watch the video for more information on how the film heals and the process of how the film is applied.

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