Author Greg Wilkinson / Category Paint Protection Film / Published: Mar-8-2020
Author Greg Wilkinson / Category Paint Protection Film / Published: Mar-8-2020
When this customer came to us I had little words digesting what I saw done to his 200K Range Rover. Pretty much it was an experiment in what not to do when installing paint protection film.
We see other shops installations all the time but this one left us scratching our head. This was done by another local shop (not naming names) that we have seen some pretty bad installs before. Some really upset customers no less so we were not surprised to know who did it. Its always when that low price wears off do you find out its going to cost you a lot more than you had ever anticipated.
This customer was also told this was a quality 3M film (More on that later) but we had our doubts. After discussing options with the customer we got him on the schedule and eagerly awaited the day we could make this right and take a bad experience and make it great!
Once we started removing the film we started to see the true damage that was done to this vehicles paint. Cut marks pretty much everywhere we found an edge. Panels that can be done in a single piece were literally done like a jigsaw puzzle. Obviously this installer was not skilled and had no access to any cutting software. Made it a lot easier to remove for us so that was probably the only positive we took away from what we had in front of us. It was literally done in strips!
About half way through the removal we knew this was going to take a lot more work to get it road worthy again. We spoke with the owner about our paint correction services but also set the expectation that this is not going to be perfect without a trip to the bodyshop which he wanted to avoid. Even our color sanding services were not going to remove everything as the cuts were just too deep. You could see the cut marks of repeated attempts to get coverage on this bumper. The owner stated he had to take it back multiple times where the shop had it for weeks on end to only produce this abomination as he so called it.
Just when you think its can't get any worse you see this. The installer tried to hide cut marks with a sharpie! Yeah thats under the film and concealing a cut mark from repeated attempts at doing this mirror. We found sharpie all down the doors and fenders as well. We really had our work cut out for us (pun intended)!
Well now that we got this film off I thoroughly inspected the film we removed. I happened to be a product tester for 3M and our input went into the development of 3M Pro Series which this customer was told was installed. Not to our surprise once again, this isn't 3M film.
Now we are talking about the old bait and switch on top of the botched install. This shop is known for it. You see we are the only authorized 3M film dealer in Santa Clarita. You walk into this shops showroom and you will see 3M window film display boards on the wall so without doubt they are doing this on the paint protection film as well. They even promote it on google and social media. They have a web page dedicated that states they are factory trained and authorized. This happens a lot in this industry unfortunately and most customers never even know. We have multiple local shops claiming they carry our products when in fact they are exclusive to us in this area. You always want to verify by going to the manufactures find a dealer page and look them up. If they are not listed they are not authorized to even purchase the product in most cases.
We color sanded the really bad areas to get the cut marks either leveled or to the point the new film would cover and make less noticeable. We also removed all the scratches and swirls this film was installed over to begin with by compounding and polishing.
Some areas unfortunately were never going to be to our liking but avoiding a repaint was key here. We had a lot of work in front of before we could even begin the installation.
One thing I always tell my customers when shopping around for paint protection film. The shop better have in house detailing services. When I say in house, I mean full time staff dedicated to this. You have to have the surface prepared perfectly and free of defects as you will be locking this under the film.
After a few days of paint correction we got it straight enough we could start installing the new film. We went with XPEL Ultimate paint protection film for this project. With its 10 year warranty on labor and materials its hard to beat. Our XPEL factory trained and certified installers (including me) used our years of experience to get this install done the right way. Using a combination of bulk and computer cut templates from our XPEL DAP software we slowly started to transform this Range Rover back to its old days! In fact it may not have even looked this good when it left the factory.
No more cut marks around the door handle area that we removed. No more edges or seams as we removed the handles prior to installation. That is done with a simple torx wrench on the door jamb and they come off in seconds. Once reinstalled this door will look like we were never there.
These are the techinques a true professional will use to improve an installation. Years of experience we have learned what works and what doesn't. This is another reference to you get what you pay for. When spending this much to protect your investment its always best to not cut corners or the paint!
Its not just the edges and seams we removed. This install had about every installation defect in the book. Silvering, pull marks, lift lines, chicken skin, and I could go on and on. I don't expect you all reading this to know what all that means but its not good I can tell you that.
It takes true craftsmanship to install this film. Its not DYI friendly and most shops that offer it can't do it properly. It will never be perfect either when you are dealing with pieces of film installed with water and soap. Its limiting those defects to the least amount which seperates the great from the mediocre.
A lot of shops offer these services but not all specialize in them. A lot of them just outsource the installations and have little to no expertise at all. This is actually very common! In the Santa Clarita area we actually do more installs than all the other shops combined. Just do a little research and visit some shops before jumping into a purchase like this. It's a costly mistake if you don't choose wisely.
How do you know if a shop is good? See the work in person of course without question, verify they are certified by the manufacture by visiting the manufactures website and use the find an installer search tool. They often list if they are authorized and certified. Browse the social media of these shops, are they posting close ups or all 10 feet or more away? You will find our close ups all over our social media. Do they have a of experience installing full vehicles? I can tell you as of now today writing this our local competitors have yet to even post a Stealth PPF install, this is the matte version of the film. We have done hundreds upon hundreds of them. Still think we are all the same?
We have flown across the country for factory training from multiple manufactures, we spent the time mastering our skills, we have the experience to do any project, we have some of the best products and software exclusive to us in this area. As the owner of Autoskinz I actually perform this work so its not just handed off to one of my employees, I work beside them. Nothing in my shop that I can't do myself because as an owner how can I understand it if I can perform it?
Our facility is large and setup to control the environment, we have lifts, specialized lighting and flooring, detailing services, and every size roll of film in stock and available to us. We have dedicated film rooms and cutting tables to prepare our films prior to installation. Always ask to tour the facility. In fact ask if you can speak with the installers as well. Not one person on my staff I don't grant access to my customers. When you hire great installers they are very knowledgable about the process so can speak intelligently about it.
This is a get what you pay for industry and this owner is now left to try and recover what he spent at the other shop on top of what he spent with us correcting it. I hate seeing this happen to others and we often hear "the other shop is a lot cheaper". Are they really, you decide?
"You think I am expensive, wait till you hire an amateur!"
— Greg Wilkinson
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