What is a Clear Bra?
A clear bra for cars is a special product applied as paint protection film to the front of vehicles, namely cars, SUVs, trucks, or motorcycles. This is a polyurethane material that is designed to stick on the surface of metal, plastic, or aluminum. These are scientifically advanced than ordinary paint protection waxes, sprays, and coatings. The main objective of a clear bra for cars is to create a layer of protection from the striking of rocks, debris, and scratches.
Difference between Paint Protection Film and Clear Bra
Anyone looking for the best type of paint protection would come across the clear bra technology. They would also be keen to know what the specialty of this is. So, this has also become a frequently asked question. The main difference is that clear bra paint protection is applied only to the front end of the vehicle.
The major reason for applying it only to the front end is because it is the area that is most exposed to damage and needs protection the most. The front bumper, grille, headlight covers, hood, and fenders are the high exposure areas that are vulnerable to scratches and major paint chips. By applying a clear bra, the damages can be minimized. The exposure of the front parts of the vehicle to harmful UV radiation is also minimized.
The clear bra is a thick, transparent material that is applied to the front area of the vehicle. Being transparent, it allows the original color of the factory paint to shine, with minimal dulling effects. But the normal car protective films are usually translucent and might reduce the visible shine of the car paint depending on the quality.
Clear bras are more expensive relative to other paint protection films. However, people still tend to choose this type over other varieties due to its durable materials of high quality and protection against damage.
How Are They Made?
There is a general layout in the construction of these clear bras, even though the manufacturers would be different. However, the technical and scientific areas behind this should be understood. Let’s identify the main components of this.
- Polyester Release Liner
As in any car protective film, here too, the base starts with a polyester release liner. This is a very thin layer of about 3.0 mils (0.076 mm) and is used to bond to the car.
- Acrylic Adhesive
This is used for better adhering purposes. This is layered over the previous liner. The thickness would be 1.6 mils (0.040 mm).
The strength and durability are given by this layer. This is the thickest of all layers and is 6.0 miles (0.152 mm).
This is the final layer of the application. The thickness is 0.5 mils (0.0132 mm). In addition to this, some self-healing products have an elastomeric polymer that helps to maintain the natural shape if damaged.
Do They Really Self Heal?
Self-healing can be referred to as an instance where it can fix any damage without any action of another party or additional substance to repair it. To be more accurate, they cannot completely self-heal. To initiate the process of healing, heat should be applied to the damaged area. This is scientifically known as Elastomeric action.
The paint protection materials are made up of elastomers which are a type of cross-linked polymer that can return to its original state in case any damage occurs. So, when exposed to direct sunlight, this polymer would bring back the film to its original state. However, there is a more advanced technology of clear bra in the market today named Kavaca that can heal instantly without heat.
How Long Do Clear Bras Last?
Similar to all other products, clear bras also have lifespans that would depend on certain factors.
Even though the same construction layout will be followed by all the manufacturers, the materials and construction techniques they use would be different from each other. This would either improve or reduce the quality of the final product. Warranties are offered up to 5 or 10 years and would be dependent on the top coating of ceramic and other annual inspection and maintenance programs.
- The Prep Work
Before the application of the clear bra, proper preparation work such as making sure that the surface is free of any debris, contaminants, and scratches are very essential. This is mandatory for highly precise fitting on the car.
There are DIY kits available in the market for anyone interested in doing it by themselves. However, these installations are not successful very often. It is highly recommended that a clear bra installation should be done by a professional. Since they have proper certification, knowledge, and experience, they know the right products to use for the prep work.
They also know the proven techniques that can bond the film correctly. These dealers undergo professional training and get certified for correct prep work, installation, and aftercare methods. So, having both a certified installer and material supplies for the installation are both very important for the quality of the installation.
- Environmental Factors
The weather conditions and the climate in which the car is driven and parked have an impact on the lifespan of the clear bra. Being protected from exposure to high temperatures and rude weather would be beneficial for the vehicle. If the vehicle is continuously being subjected to harsh climates, then a nano-ceramic coating can be applied to extend the life expectancy of the clear bra.
How is Clear Bra Installed?
As mentioned previously, having a proper installer for the work can ensure the quality of the work. Even though a general procedure is followed by the installers, they might have different methods and techniques for the process.
- Prep Work
Every vehicle is unique. It is very important to do the preparation work accurately as it affects the quality of the installation. The objective of this work is to make the surface clean and free from any scratches and damages. The preparation would include cleaning the surface, doing a clay bar treatment, and even paint correction on the car. Sometimes, small repairs also need to be done. However, there are some clear bras that match the color of the vehicle. So, these can be used for vehicles with significant paint damage to both covers the scratches and protect the materials.
- Cutting the Material
The paint protection film is cut by professional installers using a machine named plotter. Some others use the traditional method of cutting by hand to cut out the specific sizes and shapes of the film. Whatever the method used, professional dealers are most talented in getting the precise shape out of the film.
The next step would be to fit the material onto the car carefully without any flaw. The clear bra is fitted to the vehicle’s front so as to ensure protection from any oncoming road debris. The fitting involves the spraying of a fitting solution, application and finally allowing it to cure with time. Also, the rear part of the side mirrors can also be damaged easily and would require paint protection. So, some installers recommend a full front-end protection film installation that would extend to include the rest of the hood, front fender, and side mirrors. This additional cost will be low and this extra protection received to the vehicle would be remarkable.
Clear Bra Installation Cost
The typical installation cost of a clear bra would be around $500 to $2,000. However, this would vary, depending on the installer and the model of your car. The clear bra installation cost would be increased upon the use of the equipment and the cost of labor.
Concerns with Clear Bras
If the clear bra is installed accurately, then there would not be any negative impact on the color or clarity of the car paint. However, these can get damaged and worn out with time. They would be yellowed, blistered, and peel off, leaving your car once again vulnerable to damage. So, let’s identify these concerns and how to prepare to overcome them.
The clear bra would peel off from certain areas of the car. This would be because of improper care. You should make sure to avoid pressure washers and harsh treatments on your vehicle.
Yellowing of the clear bra would look terribly cheap and gloomy on your car. This is caused due to exposure to UV radiation and the adhesive being oxidized. Thus, discoloration occurs. As a remedy for this, manufacturers have come up with an adhesive that is less likely to oxidize and change color. This has improved the quality and performance of the clear bra. So, yellowing and discoloration would be related to low quality in both film and adhesive.
Blistering occurs as a result of small air bubbles getting trapped beneath the film of the clear bra. Air bubbles might occur due to debris under the film. This is why prep work is very important in cleaning the surface before application. Low-quality films and inexperienced technicians can lead to this. So, make sure to choose quality film and the best technicians who perform under controlled spaces with filtered air.
How to Extend the Life of a Clear Bra
A clear bra is most likely to last for 7 to 10 years. The application of a ceramic coating over the clear bra would enhance its quality.
The ceramic coating is a microscopic layer of glass or quartz. Hence it increases the depth and shine of the clear bra. It would also cause the coating to be hydrophobic and contaminants such as bird droppings and tree sap are less likely to get stuck on the surface. Cleaning and washing will be much easier through this.
The ceramic coating will also block away UV rays and protect the clear bra. Other contaminants that lead to corrosion such as acid rains and salt will also be blocked from reaching the paint protection film. So generally, this is an advanced protection mechanism for the film that protects the paint.
Pros and Cons of Clear Bra for Cars
- This is the best paint protection film
- Can self-heal when scratched
- Long-lasting material
- There are so many different brands to choose from. You might get caught up by a cheap film while there are so many better options available.
- Clear bras do not offer a complete solution for the vehicle paint. Only the selected front parts are covered by this. If you need complete protection for your car, then you would need to go for a full front paint protection film.
- Clear bras are expensive than normal PPFs. So, this might even be a heavy investment if you are on a tight budget.
How to Find the Ideal Clear Bra
The above description might have provided you a sound knowledge about the clear bra, which is the best paint protection film available at present. However, when deciding on how to find the best clear bra available for you, it is always better to do more research. Since you are going to invest in an expensive car protective film, it is important to search online for product reviews, feedbacks, local installers, and reviews on their work.
Once you choose a product and place for the installation, you should consult the installer and discuss the specifications with him. You may ask him about the different paint protection options available and what might fit best for your vehicle’s requirements.
FAQs on Clear Bras for Cars
Can clear bras be removed?
- It is very difficult to remove the clear bras.
Can you wax over a PPF?
- You can wax your car over a paint protection film. However, make sure that your wax DOES NOT contain Kerosene or Naphtha in over % concentration. It is also recommended to avoid waxes that contain dyes.
How long do you have to wait to wash the car after clear bra installation?
- It is recommended to avoid washing your car for two weeks after the clear bra is installed.
Are clear bras worth it?
- Yes, it is. According to the benefits it offers in protecting the paint of your vehicle, it sure is worth the investment.
Can you apply a clear bra over ceramic coating?
- This is the other way around what is recommended. However, if you first apply the ceramic coating and then put on the clear bra over it, then the hydrophobic properties of the coating will not be achieved. Also, the shiny, reflective nature of the clear bra will also get depreciated soon over time.