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Should PPF look OK from 5 feet away?

This is my first experience with paint protection film so I don't really know if it's supposed to look like this or not. The way people go on about it on the interwebs makes it sound like it usually looks just fine.

Anyway, I thought I'd give it a try so I went to the highest rated place in town and the only place listed on 3M's website as an authorized installer. They've been in business for 40 years and do all the work for the local Lamborghini, Bentley, Ferrari etc. dealerships so they seem pretty legit.

They charged a tear-jerking sum of money and needed the car for 2 full days to do just the front bumper, nothing else - no headlights, hood, fenders, mirrors, etc. I requested 3M film although they said XPel would be a little cheaper, is there any way to know what film I actually got? My receipt just says "bumper".

Anyway, does this look normal? The most noticeable blemish is the splotchyness on the top of the bumper which looks like minor collision damage in person but is hard to photograph. The cluster of small bubbles seems to be some gravel that got between the film and the paint and is really lumpy but not in a very noticeable location. They bashed in the tow hook cover a little but didn't bother to put any film on it. Anyone know how to pull it back out flush with the bumper? I'm guessing they pushed really hard on the driver's side of it rather than pulling on the passenger side and probably bent the plastic backing.

I'm kinda bummed that I paid so much money for something that really doesn't look much better than a thousand rock chips and really isn't any cheaper than repainting the whole bumper every few years. They told me to bring it back on Monday if the issues didn't "resolve themselves" but actually I don't even know what to have them do about it. Is it even possible to remove/replace it? I worry that after all the time they spent burnishing the stuff on under a blistering heat gun that the paint will just peel right off along with the film.

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KenC

Active Member
Sep 4, 2018
4,515
4,235
Maine
This is my first experience with paint protection film so I don't really know if it's supposed to look like this or not. The way people go on about it on the interwebs makes it sound like it usually looks just fine.

Anyway, I thought I'd give it a try so I went to the highest rated place in town and the only place listed on 3M's website as an authorized installer. They've been in business for 40 years and do all the work for the local Lamborghini, Bentley, Ferrari etc. dealerships so they seem pretty legit.

They charged a tear-jerking sum of money and needed the car for 2 full days to do just the front bumper, nothing else - no headlights, hood, fenders, mirrors, etc. I requested 3M film although they said XPel would be a little cheaper, is there any way to know what film I actually got? My receipt just says "bumper".

Anyway, does this look normal? The most noticeable blemish is the splotchyness on the top of the bumper which looks like minor collision damage in person but is hard to photograph. The cluster of small bubbles seems to be some gravel that got between the film and the paint and is really lumpy but not in a very noticeable location. They bashed in the tow hook cover a little but didn't bother to put any film on it. Anyone know how to pull it back out flush with the bumper? I'm guessing they pushed really hard on the driver's side of it rather than pulling on the passenger side and probably bent the plastic backing.

I'm kinda bummed that I paid so much money for something that really doesn't look much better than a thousand rock chips and really isn't any cheaper than repainting the whole bumper every few years. They told me to bring it back on Monday if the issues didn't "resolve themselves" but actually I don't even know what to have them do about it. Is it even possible to remove/replace it? I worry that after all the time they spent burnishing the stuff on under a blistering heat gun that the paint will just peel right off along with the film.

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How much did you pay? Usually Xpel is more expensive than 3M. They're using pre-cut PPF, so you'll see seams. They need to line up the cutouts and edges or it will look funny, like the front tow eye hook cover. That and the fog light are totally misaligned. Pre-cuts require some stretching to get things to line up. Dirt shouldn't be under the PPF. They have to clean the car, first. This doesn't look like a good job at all. I bought 3M Scotchguard Pro pre-cut to do-it-myself, and it costs only $177 for the film. The rest is labor.
 
Here's a closer pic of the region that seems to have gravel in it. You can see that the paint is chipped down to the primer or beyond and I understand that rock chips can cause ppf to bubble but it looks/feels like there's gravel in there and the car is brand new so it wouldn't make sense to have 8 rock chips all in that one spot but nowhere else. Besides, I paid an obscene amount of money for this and it took them 2 full days to install the one piece of film, I'd think they woulda dabbed a little red nail polish in there before starting if I really had chips to begin with, right?

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This is my first experience with paint protection film so I don't really know if it's supposed to look like this or not. The way people go on about it on the interwebs makes it sound like it usually looks just fine.

Anyway, I thought I'd give it a try so I went to the highest rated place in town and the only place listed on 3M's website as an authorized installer. They've been in business for 40 years and do all the work for the local Lamborghini, Bentley, Ferrari etc. dealerships so they seem pretty legit.

They charged a tear-jerking sum of money and needed the car for 2 full days to do just the front bumper, nothing else - no headlights, hood, fenders, mirrors, etc. I requested 3M film although they said XPel would be a little cheaper, is there any way to know what film I actually got? My receipt just says "bumper".

Anyway, does this look normal? The most noticeable blemish is the splotchyness on the top of the bumper which looks like minor collision damage in person but is hard to photograph. The cluster of small bubbles seems to be some gravel that got between the film and the paint and is really lumpy but not in a very noticeable location. They bashed in the tow hook cover a little but didn't bother to put any film on it. Anyone know how to pull it back out flush with the bumper? I'm guessing they pushed really hard on the driver's side of it rather than pulling on the passenger side and probably bent the plastic backing.

I'm kinda bummed that I paid so much money for something that really doesn't look much better than a thousand rock chips and really isn't any cheaper than repainting the whole bumper every few years. They told me to bring it back on Monday if the issues didn't "resolve themselves" but actually I don't even know what to have them do about it. Is it even possible to remove/replace it? I worry that after all the time they spent burnishing the stuff on under a blistering heat gun that the paint will just peel right off along with the film.

View attachment 654645
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This is my first experience with paint protection film so I don't really know if it's supposed to look like this or not. The way people go on about it on the interwebs makes it sound like it usually looks just fine.

Anyway, I thought I'd give it a try so I went to the highest rated place in town and the only place listed on 3M's website as an authorized installer. They've been in business for 40 years and do all the work for the local Lamborghini, Bentley, Ferrari etc. dealerships so they seem pretty legit.

They charged a tear-jerking sum of money and needed the car for 2 full days to do just the front bumper, nothing else - no headlights, hood, fenders, mirrors, etc. I requested 3M film although they said XPel would be a little cheaper, is there any way to know what film I actually got? My receipt just says "bumper".

Anyway, does this look normal? The most noticeable blemish is the splotchyness on the top of the bumper which looks like minor collision damage in person but is hard to photograph. The cluster of small bubbles seems to be some gravel that got between the film and the paint and is really lumpy but not in a very noticeable location. They bashed in the tow hook cover a little but didn't bother to put any film on it. Anyone know how to pull it back out flush with the bumper? I'm guessing they pushed really hard on the driver's side of it rather than pulling on the passenger side and probably bent the plastic backing.

I'm kinda bummed that I paid so much money for something that really doesn't look much better than a thousand rock chips and really isn't any cheaper than repainting the whole bumper every few years. They told me to bring it back on Monday if the issues didn't "resolve themselves" but actually I don't even know what to have them do about it. Is it even possible to remove/replace it? I worry that after all the time they spent burnishing the stuff on under a blistering heat gun that the paint will just peel right off along with the film.

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The clowns that did this “work” are criminals to have charged you anything. They couldn‘t even manage to align a precut kit. Get your money back and have a professional do the job.
 
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This is my first experience with paint protection film so I don't really know if it's supposed to look like this or not. The way people go on about it on the interwebs makes it sound like it usually looks just fine.

Anyway, I thought I'd give it a try so I went to the highest rated place in town and the only place listed on 3M's website as an authorized installer. They've been in business for 40 years and do all the work for the local Lamborghini, Bentley, Ferrari etc. dealerships so they seem pretty legit.

They charged a tear-jerking sum of money and needed the car for 2 full days to do just the front bumper, nothing else - no headlights, hood, fenders, mirrors, etc. I requested 3M film although they said XPel would be a little cheaper, is there any way to know what film I actually got? My receipt just says "bumper".

Anyway, does this look normal? The most noticeable blemish is the splotchyness on the top of the bumper which looks like minor collision damage in person but is hard to photograph. The cluster of small bubbles seems to be some gravel that got between the film and the paint and is really lumpy but not in a very noticeable location. They bashed in the tow hook cover a little but didn't bother to put any film on it. Anyone know how to pull it back out flush with the bumper? I'm guessing they pushed really hard on the driver's side of it rather than pulling on the passenger side and probably bent the plastic backing.

I'm kinda bummed that I paid so much money for something that really doesn't look much better than a thousand rock chips and really isn't any cheaper than repainting the whole bumper every few years. They told me to bring it back on Monday if the issues didn't "resolve themselves" but actually I don't even know what to have them do about it. Is it even possible to remove/replace it? I worry that after all the time they spent burnishing the stuff on under a blistering heat gun that the paint will just peel right off along with the film.

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I have my whole car wrapped and agree that the job is mediocre to poor. Unless they were very clear with you that they wouldn't modify the pre-cut design, they should have adjusted those holes and/or lined them up better. A really high end job would make them nearly invisible, but that is not automatic or common.

Regarding your rock chip post, again I would say that they should have flagged the issue to you prior to install, but paint correction is usually an extra charge on top of the wrap. Those could easily be there from your initial delivery though. I documented a lot of small chips, nibs, etc when I took delivery of my S.
 

Premiertint

Member
Local Vendor - NorCal
Sep 6, 2018
209
182
El Dorado Hills , CA
Unfortunately, our shop sees a lot of bad installations of PPF and window film that was installed at other shops. These pics are really shocking for a professional shop to have done and charged for. I can't give you any legal advice on what to do regarding the transaction with that shop. I CAN say, it should definitely NOT look like that. The alignment of the kit is absolutely sloppy and lazy. The paint chips being damaged before the installation and then applying the PPF directly over those chips without consulting with you about the options of touch-up paint or not is pretty unprofessional as well.


I am 100% NOT endorsing this installation or defending this shop, to be clear. ....

Here is the problem. ...

You paid for a specific product to be installed onto your car to protect the paint. You agreed to a price. They did the work. You received the product. Without some sort of written, or even spoken agreement, on the Quality of the installation, you might have a tough foot to stand on. They "could" argue that the material IS protecting your paint, IS the product that you purchased and that the vehicle wasn't cosmetically flawless upon arrival.

My "cautionary words" are to attempt a calm resolution with the shop. Removal of PPF can be tricky and could damage or hurt the underlying paint job. This could easily get worse if paint damage occurs.

In the future, walk around your car when you pick it up. Look very closely, ask questions, and above all else, don't accept a bad job. Once you pay your remaining balance and leave, you have completed the transaction for the goods and services, thus accepting the work. Had you not paid, pointed out the inadequacies of the installation, and not accepted/paid for the "completed" work, you might have more ground to stand on.

This situation super sucks and I feel for you. I wish other shops didn't create these terrible examples of workmanship, it really casts bad light on the industry.
 
Thanks @Premiertint yeah, like you predicted, the owner kindly explained that I should have conveyed my expectations from the start if I wanted it to come out better than this. They held my car hostage and demanded full payment prior to any resolution efforts but I negotiated that down to 50%.

Almost embarrassed to say this, but I had them tint the side windows too. 3 of the 6 panes need to be redone, one for an odd black smudge, one for a spectacular array of bubbles, and one for, yeah, a bunch of sand right in the middle. Of course that's not the real problem, it gets worse. They nicked the black door trim down to bare metal with a knife and they tried to close one of the back doors with the window all the way up which scuffed the roof trim. The owner kindly explained that this damage was surely already there and I just didn't notice it - on the drivers side - adding that his guys are very careful. Curiously, the alarm was triggered 3 times during the installation.

So what can I do? By the time I go back a 3rd time and leave my car with them for another couple of days the window tint is not worth anywhere near what I paid for it and the ppf is worth even less. Plus they owe me for mangling my paint and rear window track along with multiple trim pieces. They're offering to replace the tint, hack at some of the ppf with a knife and then collect the remaining payment. I'm afraid to have them cut up my paint by trying to trim the finished film, and I'm afraid to have them leave it on there because they'll claim no liability when it peels off the paint.

Here's a closer pic of the stuff under the film. They insist that it's rock chips but its very hard, very bumpy, and looks like maybe metal shavings? There was a guy with an angle grinder going at someone's fender in the next booth so it's not entirely out of the question.

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TBrownTX

Active Member
Dec 25, 2020
1,095
1,299
Dallas, TX
Geez Gauss I’m so sorry this happened to you. At this point, I know it sucks but you might just want to cut your losses and take it someplace else.

Maybe document everything and take them to small claims court to recoup what to need to spend to fix it and get it done right. That’s really not acceptable work at all, I’d also let them have it on social media, etc. and those are clearly NOT rock cups, they are shavings, by the size and uniformity of them all. And rock chips don’t protrude. Idiots.

Must be sickening to have to deal with damage done during the install, just a horrible situation for you. Good luck man and keep us posted.

Tim
 
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Ouch, my sympathies. Those last pictures really do look like something sharp, flat, metallic embedded in the paint rather than a rock chip, but I'm no expert. You've reinforced my desire to ALWAYS do a full walk-around with pictures before dropping the car somewhere. The damage may have just been previously unnoticed, but at least you're not left wondering. I usually find a new nick or ding somewhere that I hadn't seen before when I hand wash.

Edit - anybody else have experience with PPF on top of existing paint damage? Maybe as it adheres over the full surface it kind of pulls out existing dented paint chips like that?
 
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Thanks Tex, you and I go way back!

There was no walkaround needed for me because the car was brand new and perfect. I had already spent hours meticulously inspecting it after seeing so many quality complaints.
There was no walkaround needed for them because the owner told me they'd just fix anything they found if there were any issues. They're a full body shop and with the car being new they didn't expect to find anything worthy of charging me for "paint correction".
The owner and I did of course do a walkaround nonetheless.

Oh, did I mention that they're also a detailing shop? Gaussy unexpectedly got her first wash for free!

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Done well, you could tell someone it had PPF and it would take them a while to find any evidence of it. A shop that knows what they’re doing would wrap the front bumper with one piece of film and custom fit it. Sorry this has happened to you but that looks like you bought a kit yourself and had a go.
 

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