Applying the protective film
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Photo 1: Peel the adhesive liner and backer sheet and spray the film
Peel the liner partially off the sticky side of the film and immediately spray the adhesive
with the detergent solution. Then place the wetted, sticky side down onto the prewetted
hood. Remove the rest of the liner and backer sheet and spray the rest of the adhesive.
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Photo 2: Squeegee, pull, squeegee, pull
Stretch the film around all curves.
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Squeegee small sections at a time. If it won't stick
on curves, lift the film and spray it with the alcohol solution. Then squeegee again.
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Photo 3: Squeegee and stretch around the mirror
Squeegee the film in place until you get to a wrinkle. Then stretch the film around the
curved areas to get rid of the wrinkles.
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Photo 4: Score and peel the excess
Lightly score the film
around the edges and
tear along the score
line. Don't try to cut
along the painted
edge. You'll damage
The low-slung hoods and aerodynamic
side mirrors on new cars are extremely
vulnerable to paint chips from flying
road debris. To protect the paint, dealers
apply a thin, clear, rubbery paint
film over those surfaces. The film really
reduces paint chip damage, but dealers
charge about $400 for it.
You can buy the film online and
install it yourself in a few hours for
about $120 (or less, depending on
the size of the vehicle). It’s not complicated,
but it does take practice. So
purchase an extra set of film for your
mirrors and try it with them first. Once
you get the hang of wetting, stretching
and squeegeeing the film around
your mirror, you’ll find the hood much
I bought a complete Aerogard film
kit (film, spray bottles, knife and
squeegee) for this 2011 Ford Flex
(available from clearmask.com). There are
cheaper films, but Aerogard film
is a bit stretchier and more forgiving
than other brands, so it’s worth paying a little extra.
You’ll also need distilled water,
isopropyl alcohol and dishwashing
detergent to prepare the two spray
bottles. Follow the mixing directions
exactly (I learned this the hard way).
Start by washing the entire vehicle,
using bug and tar remover to get rid
of the crud on the hood and mirrors.
Then do a final wipe-down with a
microfiber towel to remove dust.
Unroll the film on the clean hood
(never on the floor) and let it “relax”
for at least 15 minutes. Then spray
the hood with the detergent solution.
Remove the adhesive liner and
backer sheet and spray the sticky side
with the detergent solution (Photo
1). Then center the wet film on the
wetted hood and squeegee from the
center of the hood outward (Photo
2). You can lift the film and retry as
many times as you like as long as you
rewet it with soapy water. Work out
as many water bubbles as you can.
If you can’t squeegee the bubbles
out, leave them. They’ll disappear on
their own over time. Air bubbles, on
the other hand, won’t disappear. Pop
those with a pin and squeegee the
Then apply the film to the mirror
(Photo 3). Slice off any excess film