Xpel Ultimate Clear Bra Review
After buying my car with a mere 20k miles on it, I was amazed at how perfect the paint was. I could only spot one rock chip on the entire front end, and the car looked showroom new despite being almost 5 years old. I have never purchased a new car before so a clear bra was never really a consideration, but this would be about as clean of a slate as a used car could could get. Many of my friends with clear bras encouraged me to hurry up and get one, but as I shopped around I suffered sticker shock on the expense, especially since funds were tight after buying the car on the first place. After putting off the decision as to whether clear bra was worth it or not for a few weeks, I got two or three more small rock chips and that put me over the edge; I was going to try it out for myself before things got any worse and decide for myself if it was worth it or not.
The most popular clear bra brands are Xpel and 3M, but I figured if I was going to invest a significant amount of money in Paint Protection Film (PPF) then I might as well go with the best. After talking to some local enthusiasts, Auto Armour PPF in San Diego came highly recommended for both the attention to detail with the install, and the quality of the product. They recommend Xpel Ultimate which comes with a 10 year warranty from defects, including yellowing, which is especially important with a white car. The technology is also mind-blowing, with a “self healing” property that if you scratch the clear bra, the scratches will literally just disappear after 20-30 minutes of sitting in room temperature. I actually saw this in action after accidentally dropping a bottle of waterless car wash on my hood, seeing a scratch, FREAKING OUT, then coming back 20 minutes later after Googling what to do only to not be able to find the scratches anymore. This alone is probably my favorite part of the clear bra…how cool is that?
The film is also not only invisible, but it enhances the shine of the car. I did a paint correction prior to getting this installed using Meguiars DA Microfiber Correction Compound since I noticed the car had some water spots and minor marring from the previous owner, especially on the hood. This compound is a pretty heavy cut, so normally you would follow with a lighter compound to remove any small swirls caused by the heavy polishing; but after talking to Auto Armour, they said that the second and third stage polishing wasn’t really necessary and the clear bra would hide any minor imperfections. Sure enough they were right, the clear bra enhances the shine of the front end much like a fresh coat of wax and any minor swirls are completely invisible. I do plan to do a CQuartz Finest ceramic coating over top of everything eventually, but I’m pretty excited the clear bra means I’ll never need to do anything more than a light coat of wax to the entire front end of my car ever again…this will save me a lot of time detailing 🙂
So a clear bra makes the paint look freshly waxed, protects against rock chips, self-heals scratches, and has a 10 year warranty against defects…what is the downside? Well, they are expensive. Xpel does offer a pre-cut kit for the TT-RS, and to get the same level of coverage (full hood, fender, and mirror kit + rear wheel impact area) that I had done costs $1,019.90 + tax and shipping according to their website. You’ll then need to buy a handful of install tools, and plan to spend a full day (or longer) washing, claying, then trying to install. If you’ve ever tried to DIY install vinyl then you know how tedious and frustrating it can be, and this product is way tougher to work with than vinyl from what I’m told (and far more expensive if you screw up). Ultimately, I think a DIY install makes sense for VERY few people; if you’re going to have this on your car for 10 years, you want every edge to be perfect and with zero bubbles throughout, which a professional can handle with relative ease but a first-timer will likely fail miserably at. The installer sent me a picture of them installing on my car above, where they actually custom cut it to perfectly fit the car. You can also look at pictures throughout this post to see the level of precision, all seams and edges are virtually invisible. Installation costs range based on your car, level of experience of the installer, products being used, and parts being covered, but expect to pay anywhere from $1600-$2000 all-in for a partial or full front clip, which compared to the $1100 or so in raw parts makes the professional install decision a no-brainer.
A big thanks to Austin and the crew at Auto Armour PPF for the great job on my TT-RS. I’m excited to be able to hit the track and not have to worry about my paint getting damaged, and relieved not to have to worry about detailing and upkeep nearly as much as I would with raw & uncovered paint. They also added a few nice touches I wasn’t expecting including under the door handles, behind the rear tires, and the headlights. My best advice is this; if you’re considering getting a clear bra installed, and have never done it before, get it done ASAP and do not wait, as your paint will only get more chips and imperfections the longer you drag it out…and once you get it installed, you’ll be glad you did. Personally, I have zero regrets other than not getting this done the second I unloaded the car from the transporter. This stuff is way cool!
Hi Nick, Thanks for the post. The car looks sick. I bought my 2013 S4 with pre-installed full front clear bra including full hood, front bumper and fenders. I was thinking of doing a mirror kit and was interested to know more about your suggestion of the “rear wheel impact area” could you explain more what that covers so I can get a correct quote? Thanks
Hi Nick, I had this product installed on my new Porsche 718 Boxster at time of delivery (Oct 2016). I had the entire front end, hood, rocker panels and door edges, plus air intake surrounds just aft of the doors filmed. I believe the cost was approx $2100.00 for the dealer in MSP to have it done by their favored installer. I then drove it from MSP to Ft Lauderdale, FL without incurring any damage. So far, it’s been an amazing product and nearly invisible. Robert.
It’s just a small 1″ strip behind the rear wheels. Not going to be a huge amount of protection, but can’t hurt. Congrats on finally picking up your S4, Taybin!
That sounds like a heck of a first drive in the car! Good to hear you are enjoying it Robert 🙂
Xpel will not cover staining….white area on my car about 2 inches by 2 inches……called customer service Xpel said it was covered….installer said $200 be careful too bad you chose Xpel
That’s odd, Xpel’s website said that the warranty should include labor to replace. Is the installer you spoke to the original installer on your car? Have you tried following up with Xpel? It sounds like the installer should be able to bill Xpel for their time.
I like what I am seeing about XPel. My question is this: what about 10 years down the road when I presume it needs to be replaced. What happens then? It’s probably a bear to get off and I wonder how the paint beneath will look.
Xpel’s FAQs talk about removal some, but doing some Google Searches it sounds like its harder in practice than in theory. Hard to say what will happen in 10 years, but people are putting it on multi-million dollar, one-of-a-kind collector cars, so we’re all screwed if it doesn’t come off well. http://www.xpel.com/faqs/
Hi Nick thanks for the review. I’m about to get a new SUV and thinking about getting it done. How is the protection holding up? Are you still 100% happy with everything? Thanks…
Beyond pleased – especially when I went to polish my car and was able to skip the entire front clip since the Xpel is self healing and doesn’t get swirl marks, so it’s super low maintenance. It’s also nice when you find yourself driving behind someone who is throwing mud or rocks and don’t have to worry about rock chips. I’d do it again in a heartbeat…
Nick, I am moving to San Diego in the next couple months. Will be picking up my Audi TT RS in Seattle. Will be driving down to San Diego. Thought of getting Xpel installed in Seattle, but noticed you did yours in San Diego. DO you recommend the installer you went with? If I chose to do it in Seattle before the trip to San Diego, would you recommend this? Seems to be a reputable installer in Seattle, but will be screwed if there needs to be repair work done on the film. Thoughts?
Shawn – awesome to hear another TTRS owner in SD. Check out the San Diego Audi Club on Facebook, we have tons of events…hope to see you at one when you get here.
Auto Armour in SD is great, I’d highly recommend them. They are pricey, but they do a ton of custom and high-end work so and specialize in nothing but clear bra, so they know what they’re doing. Are you driving your car from Seattle to SD? If you are, I’d get the clear bra done before that long drive, otherwise you’re going to have rock chips by the time you get here. If you’re trailering it, you could probably wait. I haven’t needed any repair work done so it’s probably a moot point for the most part.