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Clay bar, yes...but what about PPF?

I've almost had my Model 3 for 2 years now and would like to clay bar (technically synthetic mitt) my paint this summer, but can't seem to find a definitive position on using clay on my PPF. My PPF is full frontal. Does PPF get embedded particulates like paint does? If their is risk or no benefit to using clay on my PPF, I could just clay the non-PPF surfaces without too much difficulty. Just looking for guidance. @dougatconcours, care to weigh in?

BTW, I've keep the paint very clean over the last 2 years and don't necessarily think the paint feels bad as much as 2 years seems like a long time....
 

Darmie

Super Member
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Jan 13, 2016
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Clear Lake TX.
I have read that you can clay PPF. Seen some YouTube videos also. I am considering it also as the bug build up still happens on my PPF front bumper.

The link below shows a response from an Xpel tech saying it’s fine.

Claying Xpel Ultimate
That's good to know. Now the hard part is to ensure the gloss enhancers don't contain any petroleum distillates.
 
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PPF is insanely resilient. I'm not even sure why this is a question - I've abused the crap out of PPF to see just how resistant it is and you couldn't imagine the amount of abuse it can take.

That being said, one of the reasons I think I'll never PPF an entire car is because it's more difficult to get crap out of it. At least, that's been my experience on our white car with its front bumper PPF that's a few years old... which has been sealed regularly over 4 years. Maybe a coating would change that, but I'm not so sure.
 
Thanks for the replies. Do folks with experience on this subject find that PPF gets emedded the same/less/more than regular paint?

For me, I would say it is the same. It doesn't take long to clay (especially using the mitt). After "claying" and using Xpel's Ceramic Boost or Xpel Paint Protection Film Sealant , the surface is very smooth and slick...
 
Thanks for the replies. Do folks with experience on this subject find that PPF gets emedded the same/less/more than regular paint?
Even if it gets embedded with more crap, it's totally worth it. I'm happy to spend an additional 10 minutes scrubbing bug stains out of it every once in a while... I'm not happy with thousands of rock chips after only 50K miles.
 
Claying PPF comes with a million variables that are very difficult to answer in a forum thread. Why?
Because we all have different opinions about what looks acceptable. Although these discussions are helpful to narrow down your choices, I'd be very careful because you can cause permanent damage to your PPF.
What are the biggest variables?
*Color of your car; the darker the paint, the more that imperfections/scratches/swirls, etc will show up on your PPF.
*Brand/quality and age of your existing PPF.
*Experience/knowledge of how to properly use clay/towel on such a delicate surface while causing minimal marring.
*Your expectations of what is "I do ______ ...and it still looks great!" Keeping in mind that one person's "great" is another person's "OMFG I can't believe he just did that to his car, and now look at it!"

Personally I very rarely clay PPF because if I damage it I have to pay to replace it for my client. "Damage" in my world can mean something as basic as minimal marring that can only be seen in very specific lighting. If my client is reasonable and listens to my recommendations then I'll do what I feel is best from them taking into consideration all of the above and more.

Since you (the OP) don't seem to think there's an actual reason to clay your PPF other than it's been 2 years, I would say absolutely not. Do not risk damage for no benefit.
Great question though! Just by asking and starting this conversation you've opened the eyes of many people. Good job!
 
here's something from my experience:

can you clay PPF? yes. however if you have a partial PPF or any exposed edges, the edge of the film will attract the clay like nobody's business and will be nearly impossible to remove.

i've always been told to treat the PPF the same way you treat the paint.
 
i've always been told to treat the PPF the same way you treat the paint.
I strongly disagree with this statement. I would question who's always been telling you this.
PPF is good at resisting impact damage from rocks, that's about the only advantage it has over factory paint.
Factory paint will resist solvents much better than PPF.
You can polish and sand factory paint to restore shine.
PPF will degrade faster than factory paint given the same environments and will not shine as well as factory paint.

My advice is to treat PPF with kid gloves, and listen to the trusted professional who installed it for you, and is willing to back up its performance. If they recommend that claying it is ok, and it marrs the hell out of it, will they replace it for you?
 
I use clay, I use H2S to remove iron, I use Jif for stubborn stains etc. All on my MX with PPF. Works great! Car shines after every was like it is brand new even I have over 110.000 km in almost three years.
This is exactly what I always say... it looks new to you. But I promise you that many of us will spot problems on your PPF from across the parking lot.
I'm not saying that you should change anything about your process. If you're pleased with the results then that's great. Also, your white car is hiding many of the defects you're putting onto your PPF. Try that same process with a black car and you will have destroyed the appearance in short order.
 
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Dutchie

Active Member
Jun 9, 2013
1,701
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Canada
This is exactly what I always say... it looks new to you. But I promise you that many of us will spot problems on your PPF from across the parking lot.
I'm not saying that you should change anything about your process. If you're pleased with the results then that's great. Also, your white car is hiding many of the defects you're putting onto your PPF. Try that same process with a black car and you will have destroyed the appearance in short order.

It is all on the advise of my certified installer. I think he knows best
 

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