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Budget paint protection with plastidip

AMIYY4YOU

Member
Jan 4, 2018
194
186
Boston, MA
Hey All,
Taking delivery of my Model 3 very soon and I've been spending a lot of time researching protection options for both the aero wheel covers and a clear bra for the front/rear bumpers, fenders, hood, etc.

I know immediately people are going to say "blah blah youre buying a 50k car so you should be willing to spend the 3-10k on a partial/full xpel wrap", but the scope of this thread is to solicit feedback for budget options. I'd like to stay under 1k for the essentials. In short, my argument against wasting 3-10k on a nice xpel PPF is because if I get rear ended or in a car accident, all that goes away and my insurance will likely not reimburse the cost of that installation which is a complete waste.

That being said, I have SERIOUSLY been considering plasti-dipping parts of my car and I'm curious to hear anyone who has had experience with this:

Aero wheel covers: I'm thinking ~4 layers of base coat of some thick plasti dip (Black Aerosol) and then using a can of the silver metallizer (Silver Metalizer™ Aerosol) on either the whole aero cap or only on the non-glossy parts (see picture)

Paint protection on bumpers, fenders, hood, doors potentially: I'm thinking 4 layers of base of clear coat (https://www.amazon.com/Performix-11...mi-20&linkId=37eb31237c790388a007791d3384598e) followed by a layer or two of dipcoat (Dip Coat™ Protective Spray 32 oz)

Does anyone have any experience using plastidip either as a clear protective bra or for aero wheels? Also, dip your car offers a solution called proline which apparently works better for clear protective films - anyone have experience with that? Here are a couple pics I've found on the web..


Lastly, does anyone have suggestions on a good ceramic coating I can apply on top of all my plasti-dipped stuff? Cquartz?
 

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T34ME

Active Member
Mar 31, 2016
2,262
3,528
Inland Empire
I do not consider Plastidip as a PPF. It will not protect against rock chips, road rash, and bird droppings. From experience it needs to be peeled and replaced every 3 to 4 years due to fading, oxidation, and degradation. I am not speaking ill of Plastidip, and I may use it myself, sparingly but judiciously (like black out chrome trim). @zackmilo is an expert DIY Dipper and I hope he jumps in here.

My understanding is Plastidip Proline is applied by certified dealers and it can be just as expensive as a good PPF.
 

Qbenjamin

Frugal But Classy!
Jan 7, 2017
1,145
681
Bravos
I assume that you have access to a decent paint booth? I can't imagine how this will turn out if you don't, at least on the car.
 

FlyF4

Son of a MX
Mar 21, 2017
838
556
moved to San Diego
Totally agree with T3. He beat me to it. Furthermore, if you want to reduce the cost of the protection, then just consider doing the nose and front side of the car. That's what we did on an X. Cost was $1800. Then I got CQuartz on eBay for $60 and did the rest of the car myself (warning, you need to know how to do this properly.)
 

AMIYY4YOU

Member
Jan 4, 2018
194
186
Boston, MA
I do not consider Plastidip as a PPF. It will not protect against rock chips, road rash, and bird droppings. From experience it needs to be peeled and replaced every 3 to 4 years due to fading, oxidation, and degradation. I am not speaking ill of Plastidip, and I may use it myself, sparingly but judiciously (like black out chrome trim). @zackmilo is an expert DIY Dipper and I hope he jumps in here.

My understanding is Plastidip Proline is applied by certified dealers and it can be just as expensive as a good PPF.

Good to know about the Proline - thanks for the info.

Totally agree with T3. He beat me to it. Furthermore, if you want to reduce the cost of the protection, then just consider doing the nose and front side of the car. That's what we did on an X. Cost was $1800. Then I got CQuartz on eBay for $60 and did the rest of the car myself (warning, you need to know how to do this properly.)
While I respect both of your guys points, I'd have to imagine that having plasti dip is better than having nothing (as evidenced by this video

The nose and the front is still super expensive imo - I'm spending more on this car than I initially wanted to so I'm really trying to have some protection that doesnt' break the bank :( Thanks for confirmation on the Cquartz - is there a specific type you used? I noticed they have a lot of different types (UK, finest, regular). Also, would youtube videos/resources online suffice or is there something specific you're cautioning me about with regards to applying the coating?

I assume that you have access to a decent paint booth? I can't imagine how this will turn out if you don't, at least on the car.

And for the car, sure it's probably a good idea to have a well-ventilated covered area which I can get access to. The aero wheels should be pretty straightforward to apply. Now I'm just wondering if it would look better with the glossy spokes on the aero caps plasti-dipped silver or the grey panel parts (as shown in the OP pictures)
 
Last edited:

FlyF4

Son of a MX
Mar 21, 2017
838
556
moved to San Diego
Thanks for confirmation on the Cquartz - is there a specific type you used? I noticed they have a lot of different types (UK, finest, regular). Also, would youtube videos/resources online suffice or is there something specific you're cautioning me about with regards to applying the coating?

A few thoughts come to mind: I used the more expensive CQuartz product from CarPro. At one time in the past, only the pro version was available to detailers. They also sell on Amazon for I think about $80. Yes, the videos available online are good. I had a pro detailer (whom did my $1800 wrap) to show me the process. It's best to claybar the car first to get it very clean. I'm sure that if you search around the forums, you will get more info about these processes. The things I remember most about him emphasizing is to use VERY LIGHT pressure when claybar the car before applying the CQuartz. And then a VERY LIGHT coat of CQuartz in one application. Heavy coat is not better and that is what people tend to think. My total time to claybar the car and apply the CQuartz was 3 1/2 hours. Hey, it was fun and I needed the exercise. Then I let the car sit in a warm garage for 24 hours to not get any water or other debris on it. Detailer suggested that to allow the CQuartz to fully cure.

Having said this, I don't want to knock the pro shops that do this stuff for a living. Any of them that has done this on several cars might do it better than you, yet is it hard to mess up the process. If you already have some swirls in the car, I'd say pass on doing it yourself and go to a detailer to take out the swirls. The high price of these installations is because you are paying for shop labor and it does take a few hours to do this right and not rush it. Then there is the shop overhead. Also you are paying for knowledge of people having done this before, and they generally have to warrant what they are doing, plus correct any issues if something goes wrong.

After I did my CQuartz, I have driven 11,000 miles and over 6,000 of those miles have been on interstate at high speeds with passing trucks and getting other debrie hit the car. When I look at the car today, there is not one single knick in the paint. I have gotten 3 previous knicks on the nose and front quarter panel, but when I did what the installer told me and used a hair dryer on the SunTek in that area, it surprisingly self repaired the skin and the paint was never knicked. Thus, I am really sold on the two processes. I then did the CQuartz on the wife's car and she has not taken it to the car wash in almost a year. I just have the kid spray it down and wipe it off in about 15 minutes. Looks great.

Lastly, for the X I got a "CQuartz leather" and applied it to the interior.
Months later I was really glad when a young passenger spilled grape juice on the seats. It just wiped right off without seeping into the material. Hope this helps. Just one man's opinion.
 

bthienthai

Member
Dec 27, 2017
122
129
springfield, oh
Hey All,
Taking delivery of my Model 3 very soon and I've been spending a lot of time researching protection options for both the aero wheel covers and a clear bra for the front/rear bumpers, fenders, hood, etc.

I know immediately people are going to say "blah blah youre buying a 50k car so you should be willing to spend the 3-10k on a partial/full xpel wrap", but the scope of this thread is to solicit feedback for budget options. I'd like to stay under 1k for the essentials. In short, my argument against wasting 3-10k on a nice xpel PPF is because if I get rear ended or in a car accident, all that goes away and my insurance will likely not reimburse the cost of that installation which is a complete waste.

That being said, I have SERIOUSLY been considering plasti-dipping parts of my car and I'm curious to hear anyone who has had experience with this:

you can't just use clear plastidip by itself as clear coat; the surface won't be as smooth and makes it hard to clean/wash. There's a dedicate top clear coat for it. And I wouldn't recommend doing pieces of the car either. It's better to do the whole car.
I was in the same situation as you when I bought my new car. I wanted to use Xpel as the clear bra. But it's expensive just to do the hood. Then I found out about vinyl and Autoflex (a pro version of plasti dip). So I tried to do it myself to save cost. I did both vinyl wrap and Autoflex in my own garage. It is certainly not perfect. But it didn't cost me an arm and a leg either.

Note: the side mirror finish was like that because I was experimenting with glitter mixed in the paint.

 

HankLloydRight

No Roads
Jan 18, 2014
12,958
10,988
Connecticut
Then I found out about vinyl and Autoflex (a pro version of plasti dip).

I wouldn't call it a "pro version of plastidip".. Autoflex is a completely different product from Plastidip or Proline (which *is* a pro version of PD). Applying Autoflex is much more complex, requires a dust-free, ventilated paint booth, completely sealing off the entire car (so none of the product gets inside), and professional paint/spray equipment. That is, if you want a perfect, professional finish indistinguishable from real auto paint.

Plastidip, OTOH, you can do in your garage for a few hundred bucks.
 

bthienthai

Member
Dec 27, 2017
122
129
springfield, oh
I don't disagree with most of you said. Plastidip is more forgiving than autoflex. But in most cases, you still have to mask the entire car. The paint booth is a requirement for a professional look. But since I didn't have one, I made do with what I had and accepted that it wouldn't look as professional.
 

T34ME

Active Member
Mar 31, 2016
2,262
3,528
Inland Empire
Here is a review on Amazon for PlastiDip Clear:

Love plasti dip and have used it many times. I've always used the colors and this review is for the clear. I have to say the clear was terrible for my application - which was trying to lay this down and then the glossifier on my front bumper to make my own spray on and removable front grill. Very hazy and foggy and looked really bad, before and after using the glossifier. Ended up removing from my car and throwing the can away.
 
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AMIYY4YOU

Member
Jan 4, 2018
194
186
Boston, MA
Here is a review on Amazon for PlastiDip Clear:

Love plasti dip and have used it many times. I've always used the colors and this review is for the clear. I have to say the clear was terrible for my application - which was trying to lay this down and then the glossifier on my front bumper to make my own spray on and removable front grill. Very hazy and foggy and looked really bad, before and after using the glossifier. Ended up removing from my car and throwing the can away.
This is helpful! Thanks

So it looks like plastidip as a clear bra is likely a no go.. Wondering if the aero cap thing would still fly. I would probably get the black and bright aluminum metalizer instead of the silver after seeing a picture of it fully covered by that color
 

HankLloydRight

No Roads
Jan 18, 2014
12,958
10,988
Connecticut
But in most cases, you still have to mask the entire car.

It's not about masking the trim areas on the car... with Autoflex, you need to seal off (inside) all the doors, hatches, frunk/trunk,etc so that no AF product gets inside the car or engine compartment (for ICE vehicles). See images below. It's a really nasty chemical until bonded and set on the car. Then it's awesome.

upload_2018-4-9_8-0-35.png

upload_2018-4-9_8-0-54.png
 

T34ME

Active Member
Mar 31, 2016
2,262
3,528
Inland Empire
So it looks like plastidip as a clear bra is likely a no go.. Wondering if the aero cap thing would still fly. I would probably get the black and bright aluminum metalizer instead of the silver after seeing a picture of it fully covered by that color
For another possibility, read this post and the comments down below. Again, mixed results with this product.

I'm not trying to be negative about PlastiDip or 3M products, just trying to be helpful to avoid a costly error. I don't fault you for trying to protect your paint as inexpensively as possible. Apparently, you can peel off both PlastiDip and 3M clear if you don't like the results with no ill effects on your paint, but please be careful.

I have a friend here on TMC who is an MD and so is his wife. Money is not an issue for them. They both have Teslas and he believes that PPF of any kind is a waste of money. He pays a company (that has been discussed many times here on TMC) to apply OptiCoat sealer to his cars - not for paint protection but just to make them shinier and easier to keep clean. But that is not inexpensive either. It's over a $1,000 to have a professional do it. Materials are inexpensive, but it is labor intensive to do it right. Like everything in life, this is a potential DIY project, IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING!

Personally, I am on the fence about PPF and sealers. I have a Pearl White car that is 6 years old. I drive about 15K miles a year. It has about half a dozen small rock chips on the grille and hood. You have to be about 2 feet away before you can see them. 95% of people would never notice them. If I get PPF or sealer on my model 3, I will have a proven professional put it on but I am going to do as little as possible to keep the cost down. We shall see. Good luck to you.
 
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Butane

Member
Apr 6, 2018
79
162
Bloomington, IN
I'll echo HankLloydRight on the awesomeness of Autoflex. I'm getting my Model 3 (day 3 of my excruciating 3-6 weeks...) autoflexed and met with the installer over the weekend to see some of his work. You wouldn't know it wasn't OEM clearcoat just from feel and look. Supposedly just as durable too.

For the OP, you might at least get a quote for a full autoflex. I'm paying a good deal less than $2k for the full car. Much less than a comparable PPF wrap.
 

HankLloydRight

No Roads
Jan 18, 2014
12,958
10,988
Connecticut
If you've seen this before, my apologies, but here is my own experience with Autoflex:

Dipped my car: Autoflex Matte + ZTA Hypershift + Blueberry Juice

I believe it cost me about $2300 total, but this was a hypershift and a satin finish. That was my P85+ I have sold. I'm going to have my P85D Autoflexed this spring.

Also, I think Opticoat-Pro is mostly a placebo/snake oil. I had it professionally installed on my P85+ (the installer had done dozens of Tesla already and came highly recommended around here).. but I didn't notice any difference, and in fact, once done and cured, the finish had a slight 'tacky' feel to it. The car wasn't any easier to clean or keep clean from road debris or bird droppings,etc. It was a total waste of cash, I will never do it again.

If you're serious about paint protection, go with XPEL, vinyl wraps, plastidip, or Autoflex (my personal choice) which all have different pros/cons, but they all offer REAL paint protection that the Opticoat and other micron level coatings do not.
 

Butane

Member
Apr 6, 2018
79
162
Bloomington, IN
If you've seen this before, my apologies, but here is my own experience with Autoflex:

Dipped my car: Autoflex Matte + ZTA Hypershift + Blueberry Juice

I believe it cost me about $2300 total, but this was a hypershift and a satin finish. That was my P85+ I have sold. I'm going to have my P85D Autoflexed this spring.

Also, I think Opticoat-Pro is mostly a placebo/snake oil. I had it professionally installed on my P85+ (the installer had done dozens of Tesla already and came highly recommended around here).. but I didn't notice any difference, and in fact, once done and cured, the finish had a slight 'tacky' feel to it. The car wasn't any easier to clean or keep clean from road debris or bird droppings,etc. It was a total waste of cash, I will never do it again.

If you're serious about paint protection, go with XPEL, vinyl wraps, plastidip, or Autoflex (my personal choice) which all have different pros/cons, but they all offer REAL paint protection that the Opticoat and other micron level coatings do not.
You were the inspiration that turn me on to Autoflex. :) I showed my wife your car and she just drooled. Ultimately decided the hyershift was a bit much for our daily driver so are going with a subtle Bora Bora colorshift over blue.
 
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Henchman

Member
Mar 24, 2018
120
374
Los Angeles
I hear you about The full body wrap cost.
Kind of in the same boat.
I decided to have the bumper and hood wrapped with Expel.
That's being done next week. Cost $950
I did my own ceramic theybday after I picked up the car. The paint was in really good shape, but
I did have to buff one pamel that had swirl marks on it.

I used Feynlab Ceramic, using a couple of their prep products.
I started by giving it a quick rinse.
Then using Feynlab Prime as a lubricant and a Nanoskine blue claybar sponge, I claybarred the entire car.
Another rinse, and wiped with micro fibre cloth.
Then I wiped the entire car with Feynlab panel prep.
Then applied the Feynlab Ceramic.
I was easily able to apply the Ceramic coating on the entire car before reaching the maximum dwell time.
Then I wiped and buffed with a microfibre.

Partial Xpel and self ceramic kept me within my budget.

And here are so me pics.

20180418_171945.jpg
20180418_171926.jpg
 

FlyF4

Son of a MX
Mar 21, 2017
838
556
moved to San Diego
I hear you about The full body wrap cost.
Kind of in the same boat.
I decided to have the bumper and hood wrapped with Expel.
That's being done next week. Cost $950
I did my own ceramic theybday after I picked up the car. The paint was in really good shape, but
I did have to buff one pamel that had swirl marks on it.

I used Feynlab Ceramic, using a couple of their prep products.
I started by giving it a quick rinse.
Then using Feynlab Prime as a lubricant and a Nanoskine blue claybar sponge, I claybarred the entire car.
Another rinse, and wiped with micro fibre cloth.
Then I wiped the entire car with Feynlab panel prep.
Then applied the Feynlab Ceramic.
I was easily able to apply the Ceramic coating on the entire car before reaching the maximum dwell time.
Then I wiped and buffed with a microfibre.

Partial Xpel and self ceramic kept me within my budget.

And here are so me pics.

View attachment 295211 View attachment 295212
That sound like the way to do it. nice
 

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