If you have had a bad paint protection film (PPF or ceramic coating) experience, you may wonder if you can remove this resilient, molecular-bonded film. This is a common question, in fact, from people who try to DIY their paint coating. Thankfully, the answer is yes, you can remove it. The pros at calgarypaintprotectionfilm.ca walked us through the process and helped us understand how. We share some of those insights below.
Another reason why many vehicle owners need to remove PPF is unrelated to their own doing. Frequently, new and used cars have bodywork protection film already applied. When that film starts to peel or fade, your prized possession starts looking unkempt. Either you can take your car to the pros who know how to remove and install new protective film, or you can try to remove it on your own.
Why remove PPF?
Paint protection film is an excellent investment in the appearance of your vehicle. But at some point, perhaps after five or ten years, it is time to remove this coating. Generally, peeling film is a good sign that you should do so.
After it is applied and for many years, your ceramic coating can protect and preserve your paint. When you question whether you need to remove it, first evaluate the film’s condition.
Signs of film deterioration include:
PPF is known for yellowing in its last stage on a vehicle. This yellowing occurs after a lengthy period of wear, sunlight exposure and weather elements. It is typically more visible on brightly coloured or white cars. The yellowing is actually a chemical reaction in the coating’s adhesive. Of course, the discoloration makes your vehicle less attractive.
Some of your film is more prone to damage, such as on horizontal panels of the vehicle. These portions suffer the most extreme direct sunlight exposure and the associated UV rays. The exposure breaks down the film and creates a cracking effect. This wear can actually damage your paint if you do not immediately remove the film. Over time, cracked film also becomes harder to remove.
If you live down a lengthy gravel road or drive your car many miles, eventually, the film may receive some cosmetic damage. This damage creates unattractive wear and can even tear the film.
Do I really need to remove my damaged PPF?
Many people wonder if they can just let their aged or damaged film wear off. But the reality is that you should remove it. Keeping it in place for too long after it starts to breakdown can seriously damage your paint. Yellowing, cracking and other clear damage means it is time to replace the ceramic coating.
Cracked film only gets harder to remove over time. Removing substantially damaged paint film requires use of strong chemicals. These chemicals can also damage your paint. Anytime you see signs of wear, tear, damage, cracking or yellowing on your PPF, take your vehicle back to the ceramic coating professionals who can check its condition.
How to Remove Paint Protection Film
Safely removing PPF requires a heat source. It is best to use a heat gun like the pros do. But you can also remove your coating with a steamer or hairdryer. The heat from these appliances softens the film’s adhesive, making it easier and safer to remove the coating.
To start the removal process, apply heat to the edge of your PPF. Gently warm the surface on the heat gun’s lowest setting, constantly moving the nozzle. Do this for about 30 seconds of heat application until the surface is warmed but not too hot to the touch.
When it is warmed, try using a fingernail to pick at the edge of your vehicle’s film and pull it away from the paint. If this seems too difficult, try using some adhesive remover. Allow this solution to seep into the area between the film and the paint.
After you remove the bulk of your film, you may find some bits of residue on your vehicle. This is generally leftover adhesive you can remove using tar and glue remover like Autoglym Intensive Tar Remover.
It is best to polish your vehicle’s surfaces after removing the film. For deep swirls, use a machine polisher. You can also do this by hand for some surface appearance improvement. Then add a protective layer such as a sealant or wax. Your vehicle no longer has the chemical and UV protection of the PPF, so you need to apply one of these products to protect your paint.
Repairing Your Paint Protection Coating
If you wish to repair your PPF instead of removing it, that is also possible. Many PPFs have inherent self-healing properties that enable you to easily remove fine blemishes. This can prevent the need to remove the film until later in its lifetime. Because your film is made of thermoplastic, you can reform it using heat.
Although you need to do so carefully, you can apply heat to remove swirl marks, bird etches and fine scratches. The first step is to remove dirt and tar from the affected area of the film. Using a heat gun on its low setting, apply warmth to the targeted spot of the film. Always hold the gun nozzle at least 30 cm away from the PPF surface, continuously moving it. The scratch will start to fade and shortly disappears.
You can also achieve this healing effect by leaving your car in direct sunlight. Another method is to apply warm water to your vehicle’s damaged surface.
Final Notes About Your PPF
Removing PPF should not damage your vehicle’s paint. But if your paint was poorly resprayed, you can notice some of it adhering to the detached film. You can avoid this effect by ensuring you use enough heat and the surface is sufficiently warm during the removal process. Also, apply the adhesive remover to ensure the glue properly dissolves.
Never apply polish over PPF. This can create a hazy appearance. But you can apply wax or sealant over your film to make the vehicle even easier to keep clean.