Car paint protection explained: does your car need it?

What is car paint protection, what are the different options and are they worth it?

Cars are destined to pick up stone chips, scratches and other marks on the paintwork - it’s just a fact of life. That’s where car paint protection comes in. You may be thinking about protecting your car’s paintwork or maybe you’ve been asked by your dealer if you’d like it applied to a new car purchase, but what exactly is car paint protection and should you get it?

There are several different ways to protect your car’s paintwork, from low-cost, do-it-yourself options up to professional treatments that could cost thousands on large, high-end cars. Here we’ll take a closer look at the merits of each one.

Before we do, let’s answer the question: is car paint protection worth it? There’s no easy answer because it all depends on you - if you want the peace of mind that it offers, then it’s worth it, but the cost of a high-end treatment may not be affordable. In that case, you could try a home solution, or work hard to keep your paint in good condition by regularly washing and parking in a covered spot.

If you do have a garage, or if you’re buying a weekend car that won’t see much motorway use, then paint protection may not be worthwhile, because it’s cars that see a lot of mileage that tend to have untidy paint including stone chips on the front. No cars are immune from scratches while parked up from careless passers-by, though.

DIY car paint protection

Price: £20-70

When you wash your car, you can add wax and sealant afterwards to bring a small layer of protective coating to the paintwork. You can read about all the best products on the market in our car wax and sealants article. This isn’t bringing a great deal of protection, but it’s certainly better than nothing and cheaper than professional services.

There are also proper paint sealant products that you can apply at home. These are often a bit more involved - some need to be applied and then left to dry for a long time, so would require a garage or a guarantee of good overnight weather. Some last longer than others so check how often they need to be applied. Some brand names to look for that offer these products are Meguiar’s and Wolfgang.

Professional spray-on car paint protection

Price: £150+, depending on car size

A company that offers valet services - including new car dealers - can most likely offer you a professional paint protection layer. This is similar to the solutions that you can use at home, but with a more involved spray-on process done by an expert, it’s a longer-lasting way of protecting your car’s paint.

These treatments - with brand names such as Supagard - can protect your paint for several years without needing any extra work. They are often offered as a way of making extra profits at a car dealership, but could be worthwhile when the time comes to sell your car. You could always have the treatment done later if you don’t want to decide when you’re buying a new car.

Paint protection film

Cost: £500+ depending on car size

Protective film can be a pricey solution but it’s an effective way to keep scratches and stone chips off your paintwork. It’s a clear plastic film that’s stuck on to the car by a professional, and can be applied to just the front or the whole car depending on preference.

It’s not a completely permanent solution - scratches will build up on the plastic and tend to be fairly obvious, so the protection will need to be reapplied at some point. However, it’s longer-lasting than most spray-on products and leaves the actual paint totally free of scratches. Even a malicious scratch may not penetrate down to the paintwork unless the vandal is really dedicated.

Click here for our list of the best car wax and sealants...

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