Clear protective films, also called “clear bras”, like 3M’s Scotchgard are intended to prevent front end damage from stones and other objects. Do they work? Absolutely, here’s how.
In normal driving, particularly on the highway, our vehicles are constantly bombarded with small stones and other road debris kicked up by the cars and trucks ahead of us. Our vehicles strike those small objects, and even the highest quality clear-coat paint is no match. The result is a chip that can penetrate past the clear coat and color layers. Some can even remove the protective layer on the metal hood. The result is that small rust spots form. Over time, these can turn into large spots or even holes. The Civic in the photo was spotted by the author. The tape covers rust spots on the car from stone chips. The photo shows perfectly how many little divots a car can develop over time.
The films work two ways. The elasticity of the film cushions the blow from the stone. That prevents damage to the car’s finish, and the film is softer and more durable so it too survives intact. A second benefit is that stones that strike the top of the film on the hood are slowed down. Those stones then are less likely to chip your windshield. Based on this author’s experience with the films on multiple cars and having used multiple brands, the films are durable, work very well, and they age as well as the vehicle.
We auto writers are often asked by friends and family about things to be added by a dealer when buying a new car. This is the one and only addition this author recommends that people buy. Prices range from $350 to $750 depending upon the brand.