The fronts of automobiles are considerably different than they used to be. Everything is painted, and that means there’s a lot more painted surface to be exposed to stone chips and so on. Plus, if you look at the headlights on modern cars, they’re very aerodynamic. They blend into the design of the vehicle, and many times they’re outrageously expensive.

So the whole front of the car really needs to be protected if you want it to look good for a long period of time. Here’s what a lot of people do: bug bras. Ooh ,  they can do a lot of damage, because they buffet with the wind and that kind of sands the paint away. They get moisture under them and it causes milky-looking spots in the clear coat. And the paint fades at a different rate underneath them so you’ve always got that line after they’ve been on there for awhile.

Now, there are do-it- yourself products out there. The do-it-yourself products, you’ve got to, well, check them out. You’ve got to make sure that you know how to use them, and if you’re going to put one of these products on a headlamp, you have to make sure that it’s DOT approved. Now there is a commercial product that I like a lot, and to explain that to us we have Rob Freeman from Maryland Performance Works. Hi, Rob.

Freeman: Hi, Pat.

Goss: Now you did some film on the front of this Lexus for us.

Freeman: Correct. We used the 3M Scotchcal film on the paint and on the headlights.

Goss: Uh-huh. Okay, now this is DOT approved for the headlights.

Freeman: Absolutely.

Goss: Okay, now. The advantages to it.

Freeman: The advantage of the headlight is the fact that it’s DOT approved and it will take a one- inch round rock in speeds in excess of 120 miles an hour.

Goss: Okay, and on the paint.

Freeman: The paint protection is, as you had mentioned, is UV compatible, and again it’s going to protect the paint from the road debris.

Goss: Okay. Is this a do-it-yourself job?

Freeman: I don’t recommend it, no.

Goss: Why?

Freeman: It takes a skilled hand to be able to lay the product out. There are certain areas that you’re going to have to trim with a razor blade, and if you’re not proficient at it, don’t go at your paint with a razor blade.

Goss: That’s for sure. Razor blades and paint definitely don’t mix. Any real down sides to it?

Freeman: No. The line that you had mentioned, there is a line where the product stops. That’s the only drawback that we’ve ever had, but the alternatives to that would be the bra, which is going to destroy the paint, or the rock chips themselves.

Goss: Okay, sounds like a good deal to me. Thank you, Rob.

Freeman: My pleasure.

Goss: If you have a comment or a question, write to me. If I use your letter, I’ll send you a MotorWeek T-shirt.  The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, Maryland, 21117.