As many of you know, I had Paul Townsend from www.shineondetail.com
detail my car at the beginning of last summer and he managed to achieve a quite sublime finish even with the rubbish BMW paintwork (click here for pictures)
. However after several summer trips to Prague, the Nurburgring and consequent high-speed jaunts down the German autobahns, I found that my car had not only suffered terribly from stone chips, but also that it had huge chemical bug splat issues
Effectively whilst my car was travelling at high speed, it was decimating the bugs and insects that flew in its way (stupid bugs). It would seem that the severity of the impact, combined with the high acidity of bug juice, chemically etched splat trails into the top lacquer of the bonnet, front bumper and wings of my car. It seems that this is becoming much more of an everyday issue now that car manufacturers are using much weaker water-based paints and lacquers, which don't seem to have the robustness of the old-generation paints.
I contacted Paul at ShineOn to see if we could rectify the problem, and at the same time I started researching paint protection films. For a read of Paul's report about his work on my car, click here
Now, like many of you probably, I hadn't really seen many good things about paint protection film. I had in my mind that old horrible looking plastic with a hideously obvious edging line that stopped a quarter of the way up the bonnet
On a black coloured car, which shows up everything
, it would have been the worst thing imaginable. However, I came across a thread on our lovely forum mentioning a company called Paintshield Ltd
in Lincolnshire. I remember some guys at the Nurburgring talking about them too, but at the time I wasn't really paying much attention. I also found a company called Armourfend
who offered a paint protection film product.
Fast forward a few days and tens of phone calls later, and what I had discovered was that whilst the two products from Paintshield and Armourfend were similar, the application they would each undertake on my car was different.
Armourfend were suggesting to use their clear film half way up the bonnet, on the whole of the front bumper, and half way up the front wings to match the finish line of the film on the bonnet. They were adamant that the new product they use was so clear that the edge wouldn't be noticeable. Now that sounds a bit too good to be true really and besides, what I wanted was a film that protected the whole front of the car as the stone chips and bug splats had ended up almost three quarters of the way up the bonnet! Armourfend said that they didn't have a CAD file to enable them to computer cut the film to fit the whole front, and so they'd have to spend a fair bit of extra time with my car to create the film to suit. To be honest, the attitude of the person I was dealing with was fairly conceited and arrogant and I got the distinct impression they weren't really interested in helping me
Paintshield on the other hand were a revelation - firstly, their attitude on the phone could not have been more welcoming, helpful and understanding. They listened to the problems I was having, understood the situation and how fussy I am about the appearance of a paint film, and whilst they did their best to reassure me over the phone, they admitted that the only way I would be sure of the product was to go up to Lincoln and have a look for myself. I was passed onto Tom Wakeford, the MD for Paintshield, for a more in depth discussion. At this point I discovered the best bit about Paintshield - Tom himself drives a Monaco Blue E92 335i !!! He had already CAD designed a film to fit the entire
front end of the car - whole bonnet, front bumper, front wings, AND mirror caps.
I had pretty much decided to go with Paintshield, purely on the strength of their professionalism over the phone. The fact they had an E92 in-house was the clincher. I made arrangements to go and see them with a view to getting the film installed there and then. On my arrival, Tom had a very close look at the front end of my car to inspect it for any damage, and also to ascertain its suitability for the film. Unfortunately for me, I had a few too many deep stone chips and whilst the film could technically go on, Tom refused to do the work as he didn't want me to pay for something that I would not be happy with visually - what apparently happens with the very deep stone chips is that it creates an air pocket underneath the film when it is applied, and those air pockets will be visible to someone like me who notices everything!! His suggestion was to get the stone chips sorted first, then to revisit them.
In the meantime, he showed me around his premises - impressive to say the least! His reception is covered, literally covered, wall-to-wall, with pictures of cars that he has worked on... Scuderias, Gallardos, Veyron, Enzo, MC12... basically any car you can think of, he's almost certainly done! That does mean that his CAD database of film is the widest ranging of probably all paint protection companies.
Now fast forward to the middle of December with stone chips sorted, car covered in road salt, and a trip back up the A11. On arrival, the guys immediately took my car round to their wash area so it could be cleaned thoroughly before work started. Me being me, I decided to clean the car myself!!
I don't think they were quite expecting that
I will admit though that Joe, one of the technicians, is as fussy about paint swirls and car cleaning as me, so in reality I could have let him clean the car as he was intending and not have any worries!
Into the workshop and the whole process was started. The Paintshield technicians were amazing
so quick and precise with their work, with incredible attention to detail. The film is cut from their CAD-controlled machine, sprayed with iso-propyl alcohol and wet-applied to the car. The amount of work needed to ensure that no air bubbles remained requires huge amounts of patience and effort. The wings were the first to be done, as they are the easiest part of the car to do! At this point, I was asked to leave the workshop area itself as the process for doing the bonnet and bumper requires so much solution that the floor becomes a swimming pool!
Four hours and a sandwich later (thanks Tom for the food!) and my car was declared finished. As I walked into the workshop, one of the technicians was heat-locking the edges of the film to make sure they wouldn't lift. The film takes two weeks to cure properly, so in that time the car can't really be washed. After that, the process to look after the film is the same as looking after paintwork - there is a layer of lacquer on the film that responds to waxing in the same way that normal car paint does.
The film is a once-application product - once it's on, it won't be removed. That's not to say it can't
be removed however - it's just that there's no need to! Paintshield give a 4 year paint protection warranty with the film, and it's guaranteed not to yellow or crack either.
As you can see from the pictures below, the results are astonishingly good
I guarantee that you can't see the film on the car unless you stick your nose right up to the paint and know what you're looking for. It really is that good. And it is so optically clear - if there are any blemishes on the paintwork itself it will mostly be seen through the film!
The cost of the product varies from car to car, and depends also on what each customer wants (full/partial coverage, whole car, front only etc etc). Best thing to do if you're interested is to contact Tom Wakeford directly, say that you're off the E90post forum, tell him what you want, and he might even give you a forum-incentivised quote
Contact details -
www.xpeleu.com / www.paintshield.co.uk
I am ecstatic with the finish - it was over and beyond my already high expectations. I recommend Paintshield without any hesitation or reservation!
The front wing BEFORE application
Applying the film
After the film had been applied - can't see it !!!!
The front end BEFORE the film
Front end, number plate back on, FINISHED!