If You Love Your Car, You Should Protect It from Rock Chips and More With PPF

Photography: Sam Du

  • PPF stands for paint protection film and serves as an extra shield to safeguard a car’s finish from rock chips, scratches, bugs, and debris. 
  • Over the years, PPF products have become more invisible and offer extended longevity with non-yellowing film, stain resistance, and better sealing. 
  • The first order of business for our 2023 Toyota GR Corolla project car was applying a complete XPEL gloss PPF treatment that was professionally installed by 405 Motoring.

Looking aimlessly out the window while my mom was driving me to middle school, I can remember vividly seeing other cars on the road with bras. “A bra for cars?”, you might ask. Yeah…it was typically a black vinyl cover or mask that was attached to the front bumper, hood, and fenders to protect against rock chips and scratches. Inside was lined with a soft felt material. Believe it or not, these were considered innovative and cool at the time because they helped protect the most vulnerable part of a car’s paint so you wouldn’t have to worry about getting a repaint years down the line.

Fast forward a decade later, you could catch my friends and I making runs to Home Depot to buy endless rolls of blue painter’s tape. We’d wrap the entire front end of our project cars before going on any road trip (typically to a car show), to again, fend against road debris on our journey. The era of ugly makeshift solutions to safeguard our precious paint jobs has evolved, and we can now welcome the modern age of clear bra paint protection film or “PPF”.


PPF was groundbreaking because we finally had something that was (more or less) invisible to the naked eye and would eliminate the need to worry about road grime, UV rays, and scratches. At first, it was popular to apply the film on common problem areas such as the hood, fenders, front bumper, and mirrors. Later, cars received cut-out kits where 90% of the vehicle received protection from the elements. Now, it’s the industry standard to have a professional installer provide a PPF job that covers every millimeter of exposed paint on the exterior, without seeing any seams, cuts, wrinkles, bubbles, or lifts in the film. This is where a reputable brand like XPEL comes in, and where an expert shop like 405 Motoring can demonstrate on our 2023 Toyota GR Corolla project car.


405 Motoring is more than just a shop that specializes in PPF, ceramic coating, vinyl wrap, and tint. They provide expert installation services for any aesthetic work (aerodynamics, suspension, wheels/tires, etc.). Just recently they added ice blasting to their list of specialties as well. But of course, the bread ‘n butter is PPF and they’ve been doing it at a high level since the owners started their first company, Detail Union, in 2016. 405 is their second business endeavor and it has taken the Southern California car scene by storm since it opened its doors two years ago.

The facility offers dedicated workshop spaces with controlled air and humidity for film installation, paint prep, polishing, and ceramic coating. Customer service is a priority here, and they go above and beyond by offering a free shuttle service to the airport, taking full advantage of their proximity to LAX. They also have a lounge and bar for customers to use, plus the delivery bay features starting grid floor graphics and Instagram-worthy lighting. You’re not shopping at Ross Dress for Less here, but more like Saks Fifth Avenue. When it comes to choosing the right PPF materials, they also only carry the highest quality brand: XPEL.


From 405 Motoring’s collective seven-year experience, XPEL is the only brand that hasn’t created warranty claims. That’s impressive! Other brands have had issues with oxidizing (yellowing), fading, and loss of adhesion, where XPEL has been king. XPEL’s film will even self-heal light scratches and swirl marks over time and 405 reports that its customers haven’t had any issues with edge sealing, discoloration, or stains. 


Every customer has the option to go with partial coverage, but I wasn’t about to leave my new baby vulnerable to LA’s elements: shitty roads and bad drivers. So the GR Corolla received the full package where 405 disassembled everything that was needed to hide the PPF from onlookers. This process included removing all the trim and badges and wrapping the film around exposed edges on each exterior panel. A job like this ensured there won’t be a dirt build-up or warranty issues in the long run, which is, again, why 405 chooses XPEL over everything.

A job like this can take up to a full week, but the Corolla isn’t as involved as some SUVs or cars with massive hoods like the Audi R8. I felt reassured watching 405 technicians take their time on the GRC, fine-tuning each area of PPF so it wouldn’t be noticeable or have any bubbles. After the installation, they had me bring back the car after a week to ensure the PPF had settled correctly in case any adjustments or bubbles hadn’t disappeared. This is just part of its quality control playbook and it’s a service you won’t find at every shop.

I should note…back in 2019, my GR Supra received an earlier clear bra treatment. You could see where the shop cut the film all over the body. PPF has evolved to where visible cuts and edges are amateur now, and 405 Motoring demonstrated how a textbook PPF job is done.


The million-dollar question is “Should you PPF your car?” My answer is an overwhelming “yes!”. That is…if you love your car. I’ve had project cars in the past that have been beaten up after road trips, even with my blue tape job. It sucked every time I saw another scratch or ding on the paint because of how much time I spent washing or waxing it. Protecting my Supra was one of the best things I’ve ever done. I didn’t have to stress about following that truck too close, didn’t have to worry about a wandering shopping cart at the grocery store, didn’t have to think twice about hundreds of splattered bugs after a long road trip. It was the simple insurance I longed for as a guy who loved his car.

Now, that the quality of paint protection film and the people who are installing it like 405 Motoring are that much better, it’s a no-brainer add-on to any worthwhile project car. 405 Motoring tells me that they’ve had everything from a Toyota Prius to the more typical G-Wagen and Porsche 911 sign up for full-coverage film jobs. It comes down to how much you really care about preserving your paint. I for one, can surely appreciate the benefits of PPF, and I sure as hell don’t want to go back to shopping for those extra rolls of blue tape.