If you’re in the process of purchasing a new vehicle from a dealership, you can probably expect your salesman to discuss your options for getting paint protection and window tint installed onsite.
It’s hard to deny the convenience — many dealerships offer to handle your installation and roll the cost into your financing so it doesn’t feel like a separate expense. While this may seem like a fantastic deal at first glance, dealer-installed paint protection isn’t always what it seems. Here are a few important things to consider when deciding how you’ll protect your vehicle’s interior and exterior from wear and tear out on the road.
Adding these services into the price of your new car may seem to simplify things, but often at a hefty cost. If your dealer offers in-house paint protection or window tint, ask for an itemized breakdown of the products and labor.
Compare their prices to automotive detailers in your area, and you’re likely to find that costs have been significantly inflated to allow for more profit on the dealership’s side.
Not only does dealer-installed paint protection tend to cost more, but differences in their methods of installation can sometimes lead to inferior results. If you’re considering letting your salesman arrange your window tint or PPF, it’s important to ask the right questions to ensure that you’re comfortable with the risks.
Typically, dealerships hire third-party contractors to apply film and coating to your new vehicle after it arrives on the lot but before you take your delivery. Customers who don’t ask specific questions about the installation process might be surprised to learn that it’s not uncommon for a dealership representative to drive their new car to an installer and leave it there for days waiting for service.
Because drivers who choose dealership installation don’t personally choose their installer, it’s not possible to verify the credentials and experience of the technician doing the work.
Furthermore, the installers that dealerships contract with are typically paid on a per-vehicle basis. The pressure to complete as many installations as quickly as possible often comes through in your results.
High-quality brands of PPF have proprietary plotting software and aftercare products that are designed to work with them for optimal, long-lasting results.
Unlike professional detailers who are officially affiliated with reputable brands like XPEL, dealerships don’t own the film. Their installers typically aren’t employees of the dealership itself, meaning it’s impossible to guarantee what type of film or coating is actually being applied to your car. It’s not unheard of for unscrupulous installers to use the film that they have on hand and pass it off as premium without the consumer’s knowledge.
What about window tint? Dealerships usually apply carbon-dyed window tint film as opposed to the higher-grade ceramic films found in reputable privately owned detailing shops. These lower-quality films may be good for profit margins, but they’re bad news for drivers who want to maximize the life of their car’s interior.
The possibility that a careless installer may use what they have on hand to complete the job is risky for two reasons: 1) Films and coatings are chemically formulated to work best with their own line of sealants and aftercare products, and 2) Mixing different brands and formulations can void your paint protection’s warranty.
If you want to protect your investment, it’s crucial that you are aware of the manufacturer’s terms and conditions. Typically, this involves using a certified installer and adhering to their list of recommended products, both of which are difficult to guarantee when work is outsourced to a third party.
Reputable automotive detailers take pride in their work, and they have the credentials to prove it.
Choosing an independent shop not only saves you from artificially inflated dealership prices — it gives you results you can trust and recourse in the event that something goes wrong after your installation.
Paint protection is an important investment in the life of your vehicle. Take time to verify your installer’s certification status, do your warranty research, and ask questions to choose the right detailer.