It never fails, you finally get the beautiful vehicle you want and you get a rock chip in the pristine paint. That is exactly the scenario that Camaro owners are trying to avoid. Wright, from Texas, asks members of a popular Camaro forum for suggestions on how to protect his 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. “What is the best way to protect paint? Ceramic coating? expel? wrap? And what are the benefits and drawbacks of each? i.e.. cost, longevity, durability etc.”
Self-Sealing Film versus Ceramic Coating
Trident, from Dallas, likes the Xpel, but warns that you shouldn’t do it if you are trying to help your resale value. “My 2016 Mercedes S, 2017 Z06 and ZL1 are done with Xpel. I did the front only which includes the front grill area, headlights, mirrors, hood and front fenders. That is enough and I wouldn't do any more. Save your money, because it really doesn't make a difference when you trade it in. Having the front done is for your own satisfaction that the car always looks good to you.”
Trident makes a great point about resale, but most of the people I know that have paint protection installed, do it because they love vehicles and always want them to look like new. Plus, it is cheaper in the long run than having your hood and rocker panels repainted. Also, repainting never matches exactly, ask anyone who has ever been in an accident. Shops are better at it now than ever before, but it rarely, if ever does repainting look like new, unless they do the whole vehicle!
Larrio is also an Xpel fan. “Any frontal area that may see impacts from stones and bugs.... XPEL. I also do the hood and the rocker panels and lower quarter panels behind the rear wheels. The rest get a ceramic coating.”
Michael, from Toronto, says at some point you have to let it go. “I can't speak to Xpel, but I had the 3M clear bra on my S4 and the seam drove me nuts. If they can hide them, then Xpel seems to provide the best protection at the highest cost. I have the same car as you and for my money, I did a nice Ceramic coat at a very reasonable cost. It will help keep the car clean. Even though we love our cars so much, in the end they are still only cars. Enjoy it, drive it, have fun and don't stress!”
Grease says he has learned from experience. “After having a C7 and seeing the chips on the front multiple I had to put Xpel on the front of my ZL1. I will polish and seal the rest of the car, that's my alone time with it.”
Techla has another suggestion. “I did the Modesta ceramic coat. It looks amazing.”
A Pennsylvania Camaro owner likes another method. “I'm going with a total wrap, Suntek.”
Cup, from southern California, says it depends on what you plan to do with the car. “Xpel Ultimate if going to the track - front, hood, front fenders, behind front wheels in front of rear, rocker panel - door up to first shadow line - allowing installer to hide the end, behind rear wheels and mirrors is what I do. He goes on to make a different recommendation if you aren’t going to the track. "Suntek - if not going to the track - a little clearer, but not quite as tough. If street only, you can probably cut out some of the coverage above, but I see no reason to - keeps the car so much nicer.”
Wide Range of Cost Depending on the Level of Protection
Michael recommends the ceramic coating that he had done. “Product was Feynlab 3D high definition. Total 725 paint, glass and rims, but it is someone that I know well. Included Stage one paint correction. 5 year . If I still have the car at that time I will redo it then.”
A Florida ZL1 owner breaks down the difference in the coatings, as well as the prices. Xpel and the others are very high end, and can be several times as much as the coating, but they perform very differently. “Best way to protect the paint = self-healing paint protection film. Stops rock chips, completely prevents swirls. All the major brands' top end films do this: Xpel Ultimate, Suntek Ultra, 3M Scotchguard Pro. Differences between the brands are small and subtle. All offer 7 to 10 year warranty. All are not cheap. Plan on about $3-$5k to do the entire car. $1.5k to 3k for partial.
Next best way to protect the paint: Ceramic coating. Won't stop rock chips, but will help with but not completely prevent swirls from the $5 fundraiser car wash. Lots of choices here. Some high end ones come with warranties and require skill and experience to apply, others not so much. Pretty much everyone will agree that it improves depth of gloss. Least best way to protect the paint: Spray-n-wipe sealants. Anything that helps prevent things from sticking to your paint will help protect it.
What I have? Suntek Ultra full front (heat extractor and emplems removed, all edges wrapped) & windshield surround, rockers to the body line, and spats/rears to the body line. Gtechniq crystal serum black and 2 coats of EXO everywhere including wheels.”
Florida recommends finding the best installer in your area, especially one who has done gen 6 Camaros before.
Florida is exactly correct. The installer makes all the difference in the world, especially if he or she is a craftsman who can hide all the corners and seams. The more professional the installer, the better the outcome.
Throttle says that you should expect to pay well for complete protection. “Expect to to pay $2.5k and up for: Professional Paint Correction, PPF Front Half of car + Rear Tire area, Ceramic Coat (2x 3x) the rest of open areas.”
Intimidator says he is very pleased with what he has done to protect the whole car. “Since I go to weekly car shows, and I am adding a carbon fiber splitter, spoiler, and grille, etc., and modding the car and motor to my dream level... I want the car paint to be chip and swirl free and perfect as long as possible. The Paint correction, PPF, and Ceramic coat, was a GREAT expense IMHO!”
It is important to remember that you will more than likely never get the money back in resale value that you spend on protecting the paint. Do the added protection only because you like the way it looks and you love your vehicle. Consumer Reports often ranks some of the vehicle products and can also point you in the right direction, depending on what you wish to spend for paint protection.