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SunTek/Ultra Defense Paint Protection Film (PPF) Group Buy in NOVA/DC - TLC Auto Detail

DCEV

Member
Mar 25, 2019
845
560
Washington DC
As promised earlier, I wanted to share the results of having Paint Protection Film installed on my Model S. I want to be clear that though both SunTek and TLC Auto Detail have supported TMC as official vendors of this forum, I have absolutely no connection or financial benefit with them.

I paid for the PPF install and another forum member paid for his. I mostly wanted to share what I learned, as I wish someone else had done all this research when I started exploring PPF for my car.

I along with @stallhorn visited just about all the PPF installers in the Washington DC area to find the best installer to install PPF on my Model S and @stallhorn’s Model X. By “best installer,” I’m not implying the cheapest installer but rather the most competent and reasonable detail shop that we could trust to address all our concerns (we had a few!) and offer the PPF install at a reasonable cost.

TL;DR Version: Dave the owner of TLC Auto Detail, addressed all our concerns, was super professional and reasonable in offering us both a fair price for a full wrap of both of our cars with SunTek Ultra Defense. His PPF installer John Perdue performed what is a high-end “bulk wrap” with wrapped edges. He offered complimentary Modesta ceramic coating of our wheels and all the glass. Anyone on the forum can get the same offer by contacting Dave:

TLC AUTO DETAIL
106 Oakgrove Rd. Suite L, Dulles, VA 20166
[email protected]
703.962.7106 | TLC Auto Detail | Auto Detailing for Chantilly, VA

If you are looking to have your car protected with PPF in the DC area, go over some of the concerns I have listed below with installers you meet, and I highly recommend that you meet with Dave before deciding where to go. Ultimately go with the shop you are most comfortable with.

If you want to know the details for why we both selected TLC Auto detail, read on…

The PPF Selected
I’ll make a separate post about the reasons for selecting SunTek Ultra Defense but in a nutshell, it is the newest PPF product by SunTek and it is the best/thickest film I could find after months of research. What makes Ultra Defense so special is that it is super thick at 11.5 mils compared to 8 mils for other film I was considering. I wanted to find the thickest film that offers the best protection possible for going through the effort and expense of wrapping my entire car in PPF.

PPF Installer Criteria
Here’s a summary of our experience, what I learned, and why we selected TLC Auto Detail for our PPF installs. Both me and @stallhorn are extremely pleased with how well the PPF installs turned out.

If you shop for PPF you realize how nice everyone is but as soon as you start asking questions, that’s when things take a bit of a turn. Here’s a summary of concerns we had and with every single one of these concerns, TLC Auto Detail went the extra mile to address our concerns.

Potential Paint Damage:
I’ve heard of horror stories of some who have PPF installed only to find that the installer had cut the PPF on the paint causing massive damage to the car so I wanted to make sure that the installer would not damage the paint. One installer in Virginia which I will not name pretty much told us that they can’t guarantee that the paint will not be cut or damaged and in fact they make customers sign a disclaimer absolving them of responsibility if they damage the paint! We balked at absolving someone from damaging the paint when we are installing PPF to protect the paint to begin with.

In comparison, Dave at TLC flat out told us that they will not cut PPF on our paint and furthermore he sent us both an email after the visit promising not only to not damage our cars in any way but agreeing to be responsible for fixing any potential damage if they inadvertently cause any damage.

Whether you select TLC or another installer, have them guarantee in writing that they will not damage or cut your paint while installing PPF and if they do, they will agree to be responsible for fixing the damage.

Safety of the Car/Keep Car Inside:
If you are considering PPF, chances are you are somewhat concerned about keeping your car safe. Many of the PPF install shops are in mix-use areas with warehouses and other commercial businesses so there are heavy trucks and sometime even 18-wheelers navigating a tight parking area. I wanted the car to be kept indoors in the detail shop from drop off to pick up time. Last thing I wanted is to have them leave the car outside and be damaged.

This is an area that just about all the detail shops agreed to do with the exception of one installer in Virginia who point blank said when they are done with the car they will just park it outside, even after I told them I could pick up the car with 30 minutes notice. He then went on to tell me how he has cameras outside so I can use the footage to see who damaged the car (!) You may want to make sure your installer keeps the car indoors until you pick it up.
TLC Detail promised us our cars will be safe inside their detail shop from drop off to pick up time.

Choice of Film:
After months of research I decided on SunTek Ultra Defense, as it is the thickest and newest film I could find. It is super glossy and compliments the finish of the car exceptionally well. While Ultra Defense is made for parts of the car that need the most protection, I wanted the whole car wrapped in Ultra Defense. One installer offered a crazy markup for Ultra Defense and the other kept telling us how we “didn’t need” Ultra Defense and we would be fine with the regular Ultra film when Ultra Defense clearly offers better protection.

When we told Dave at TLC that we would like Ultra Defense, he said it would be a bit tougher to install given the extra thickness and would cost a bit more but that he would be happy to wrap the car in Ultra Defense.

Cost:
Ah, the favorite topic of discussion! This is where some installers who seemed very friendly started acting different when we began discussing the cost. Cot is a necessary discussion to have when PPF installs are so expensive and costs vary widely. Rather than pretend that PPF prices are set in stone, Dave took the time to have a conversation with us. Initially, I wanted to only wrap the front of the car but after discussing options, Dave presented an option that made sense to wrap the entire car. No other installer we met with took the time to understand what we needed and work with us to reach a reasonable cost for the install.

The Results:
And here are the results of the PPF install. The car looked better when I picked it up after the PPF install than it did when Tesla delivered the car. What I love about the way TLC Auto Detail install PPF is that they don’t do any plotter cuts, but everything is bulk wrapped, so it means as much as possible, you have well-protected wrapped edges. Even along the front bumper, there are no ugly seams or cuts. Basically, you can pretty much stand two feet from the car and not know it is fully wrapped.

Dave’s PPF installer John Perdue is a master of the craft.

I was so happy with how well they took care of me that I sent them, ice cream, donuts, and champagne for a job well done and I’ve never done that to anyone I’ve bought something from before! :)

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Apoztel

Member
May 24, 2019
44
9
Virginia, USA
Cost:
Ah, the favorite topic of discussion! This is where some installers who seemed very friendly started acting different when we began discussing the cost. Cot is a necessary discussion to have when PPF installs are so expensive and costs vary widely. Rather than pretend that PPF prices are set in stone, Dave took the time to have a conversation with us. Initially, I wanted to only wrap the front of the car but after discussing options, Dave presented an option that made sense to wrap the entire car. No other installer we met with took the time to understand what we needed and work with us to reach a reasonable cost for the install.

What was the cost?
 

DCEV

Member
Mar 25, 2019
845
560
Washington DC
What was the cost?

This would depend on how much of the car you decide to have protected and which film you use.

Since the cost is based on coverage and condition of the car, I think it's best you contact Dave and discuss your situation directly with him.

I can give you a rough range though... Protecting just the front would be a bit more than the $2-3K range and less if you are covering just the front bumper and hood. Protecting the entire car would be a bit more than twice that range because there is a lot more to cover. These prices are in line with what seems to be the going rate for PPF in the DC area. I found Dave at TLC to be the most reasonable with the cost as well as addressing my concerns and requests. He also does bulk wrapping of panels, including the front bumper, where some others we considered showed film lines where the film was plotter cut and not bulk wrapped.

Dave offering to ceramic coat the glass and wheels was also a nice bonus.

Whoever you pick, do your due diligence and go over and discuss all your concerns so you pick someone you are most comfortable with.
 

PhilDavid

Active Member
May 22, 2018
2,552
1,839
Philadelphia
Do you have any photos of the full car wrapped?

What's the time difference between a partial front wrap and a full wrap? Did they remove the emblems and trim when wrapping?
 

DCEV

Member
Mar 25, 2019
845
560
Washington DC
Do you have any photos of the full car wrapped?

What's the time difference between a partial front wrap and a full wrap? Did they remove the emblems and trim when wrapping?

Most of the photos I have are close up photos. The car is a bit dirty now for photos, but this Friday I have an appointment for the 2-week checkup and complimentary wash/detail they offer to check everything is fine with the Paint Protection Film. I'll take a few photos of the full car so you can see the overall appearance when the car is clean.

They can likely do a partial wrap in a few days but a full wrap will likely take about a week or a bit longer. I told them to keep the car as long as needed to make sure they had all the time to do a proper install and it took them 8 days to wrap the full car, including a full day to make sure everything is cured well.

Yes, it was a full bulk wrap with wrapped edges so they removed all the emblems and put everything back after the PPF wrap.
 
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SunTek

Vendor
Mar 18, 2019
166
67
St Louis
Awesome review, and we're very happy to see how well your PPF experience went. You definitely put in the time and research to understand what you wanted from film performance to installation quality and it paid off! John came by our booth at SEMA and is definitely a fantastic installer. Thanks for the follow up and experience review, so many are curious of PPF but are unsure what the process looks like and you put together a great case study on a home run experience!
 

PhilDavid

Active Member
May 22, 2018
2,552
1,839
Philadelphia
Most of the photos I have are close up photos. The car is a bit dirty now for photos, but this Friday I have an appointment for the 2-week checkup and complimentary wash/detail they offer to check everything is fine with the Paint Protection Film. I'll take a few photos of the full car so you can see the overall appearance when the car is clean.

They can likely do a partial wrap in a few days but a full wrap will likely take about a week or a bit longer. I told them to keep the car as long as needed to make sure they had all the time to do a proper install and it took them 8 days to wrap the full car, including a full day to make sure everything is cured well.

Yes, it was a full bulk wrap with wrapped edges so they removed all the emblems and put everything back after the PPF wrap.

How is your PPF holding up? Is there anything special you need to do when washing the car with PPF?
 

PhilDavid

Active Member
May 22, 2018
2,552
1,839
Philadelphia
Awesome review, and we're very happy to see how well your PPF experience went. You definitely put in the time and research to understand what you wanted from film performance to installation quality and it paid off! John came by our booth at SEMA and is definitely a fantastic installer. Thanks for the follow up and experience review, so many are curious of PPF but are unsure what the process looks like and you put together a great case study on a home run experience!

Do you have any video demonstrations of how Ultra Defense compares to Ultra?

Just wanted to see how durable the new Ultra Defense film is compared to Ultra.
 

DCEV

Member
Mar 25, 2019
845
560
Washington DC
Did he do any paint correction before applying the PPF?

Yes, TLC Auto Detail performed a full paint paint correction for the entire car before PPF application. This was all included in the quote.

When I received the car back after the PPF installation, they did such a great job that the car looked better than when I picked it up from Tesla!
 
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picklem

Member
Jan 7, 2020
58
27
Reston
Yes, TLC Auto Detail performed a full paint paint correction for the entire car before PPF application. This was all included in the quote.

When I received the car back after the PPF installation, they did such a great job that the car looked better than when I picked it up from Tesla!

Fantastic! I've been chatting with Dave (great guy) and I'm booked in for full PPF, ceramic coating, tinting, dechroming, center console wrap, and even some small extras like applying a screen protector and mudflaps at no extra cost! If he does as good a job as he did with yours, I'll definitely recommend him as well.
 
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DCEV

Member
Mar 25, 2019
845
560
Washington DC
Fantastic! I've been chatting with Dave (great guy) and I'm booked in for full PPF, ceramic coating, tinting, dechroming, center console wrap, and even some small extras like applying a screen protector and mudflaps at no extra cost! If he does as good a job as he did with yours, I'll definitely recommend him as well.

I'm sure he'll take good care of you and tell him I said hi! The full PPF he installed is holding up great after nearly a year and the Ceramic Coat is also holing up wonderfully. I have not washed the car in almost a month and even after driving the car in several rain storms, it shines as if it has been recently washed. Dave is great about including small extras that really add value. As a part of the full PPF install, he ceramic coated all my glass.

Are you going with SunTek Ultra defense, the new thicker PPF?
 

picklem

Member
Jan 7, 2020
58
27
Reston
I'm sure he'll take good care of you and tell him I said hi! The full PPF he installed is holding up great after nearly a year and the Ceramic Coat is also holing up wonderfully. I have not washed the car in almost a month and even after driving the car in several rain storms, it shines as if it has been recently washed. Dave is great about including small extras that really add value. As a part of the full PPF install, he ceramic coated all my glass.

Are you going with SunTek Ultra defense, the new thicker PPF?

Yup! Going all out with protection, even installing mud flaps.
 
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picklem

Member
Jan 7, 2020
58
27
Reston
When are you getting it all done Can you post the photos?

Where did you find the mudflaps?

Will do! I'm booked in for March 15th but it really depends on when it gets delivered. I'm going to drive it straight over.
I just bought cheap $17 ones off Amazon, the small ones that look like the ones Tesla is handing out in some places.
They're very stiff and I'm a little worried they'll scrape on speed bumps but we'll see. I'm not a fan of the look of rally flaps but they would be a better option.
I'm going to ask Dave to attach them and also seal them with 3M tape or something so gunk doesn't get in there.
 
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PhilDavid

Active Member
May 22, 2018
2,552
1,839
Philadelphia
Will do! I'm booked in for March 15th but it really depends on when it gets delivered. I'm going to drive it straight over.
I just bought cheap $17 ones off Amazon, the small ones that look like the ones Tesla is handing out in some places.
They're very stiff and I'm a little worried they'll scrape on speed bumps but we'll see. I'm not a fan of the look of rally flaps but they would be a better option.
I'm going to ask Dave to attach them and also seal them with 3M tape or something so gunk doesn't get in there.

I'm considering TLC based on the review by the OP.

Would you please mind posting detailed photos here when you get your car back along with how your experience with them was?
 
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picklem

Member
Jan 7, 2020
58
27
Reston
I'm considering TLC based on the review by the OP.

Would you please mind posting detailed photos here when you get your car back along with how your experience with them was?
Will do! My experience so far has been great with plenty of flexibility with Tesla's ever-changing delivery dates and my own financial position (wedding coming up...) Dave has been really friendly and understanding, I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do!
 
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picklem

Member
Jan 7, 2020
58
27
Reston
Got my car back on Monday but I'm holding off on giving a more detailed review. Obviously circumstances are tough right now so I don't think I got the ideal service (understaffed because he takes care of his people which I highly approve of) and it looks like some things were rushed or not done by the regular person. Also, I'm not sure if they've done dechroming before because it was pretty rough.
They've been really friendly though and promised a lifetime warranty on their work so I'm sure I can get it sorted when things have settled down.
 
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