Understanding Paint Protection

4WDing is definitely a passion of ours and I think if you are reading this and love your 4WD, you might find the following interesting. The 4WD allows us to do so much more in …

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Club 4X4 Insurance
Sep 15 2022
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4WDing is definitely a passion of ours and I think if you are reading this and love your 4WD, you might find the following interesting.

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The 4WD allows us to do so much more in our lives. You can drive a car, but with a 4WD you can go places. You can go to so many more places and create many more opportunities of adventure and memories, along the way.

Are you one of those people who whilst heading down a bitumen road on their way to a destination, sees a track and says “I wonder where that goes?”

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That’s us… and I think its in many 4WDers who are addicted to exploring this great country of ours.

But when you are out exploring, we come across different kinds of tracks.

If you are like me, you love your 4B and you want to ensure that your vehicle stays in great condition. The most obvious sign a 4B has been off-road are those bush pinstripes and stone chips.

You can have all the very best vehicle maintenance, but if the paint looks terrible, your 4B will instantly look old.

So what do you do to look after the exterior of your 4B to reduce the damage of the environment while you get out there and have fun?

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Paint Protection

We will take you through paint protection, from the budget self applied coatings to the strongest coverings available. There are plenty of products available, but these are examples which I have had experience with.

Paint protection can be as simple as a traditional wax, however there are some amazing synthetic compounds available to create a basic, yet really good protection to your paintwork.

We have used “Meguiar’s Hybrid Ceramic Liquid Wax” as the protective coating on the Sandy 60and also my wife’s Jimny JBox.

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Now I am not a chemist and really have no idea what’s in any of these products, but this one works extremely well. It’s easy to apply and provides a result which feels extremely slippery smooth, but incredibly shiny. The idea here is that a small branch rubbing against the side of your vehicle might slide across the surface and not grip and scratch your paintwork. Now this is definitely not failsafe, but it will help for sure.

It’s extremely easy to apply. We actually gave the Sandy 60 a top coat just before a photoshoot recently in a clients showroom.

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This kind of product will also assist you with mud and other debris like bird droppings, not sticking to the paint which makes your vehicle easier to clean. This is not a permanent solution and will need a regular application, so you need to make the time for it.

One tip is to ensure that your paint is extremely clean before you apply this style of product. Maybe use a clay bar, and for all those blokes out there, I am sorry to tell you, you should read the instructions. Mask up any plastics that you don’t want to coat and wear protective gloves.

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Does this all sound like way too much work?

Get a professional to arrange a “real” Ceramic Coating. Again, there are cheaper alternatives, so look into the supplier and ensure that they have good feedback from past customers.

This is an extremely tough and durable coating which, if applied correctly, will last for years.

Our 79 Series Landcrusier was coated with a number of coatings by A1 Custom Detailing.

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Aaron spent quite a lot of time sorting out our paintwork before the coating was applied, to ensure it would live up to his standards and after 4 years and over 200,000 kms of hard off-road work, it still looks amazing.

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The coating was also treated with infrared heat lamps which cure or bake harden the coating.

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Something special about the Professional Ceramic coatings is that it acts like extra layers of clearcoat and I believe it actually creates a greater depth of colour in the paint.

I love it and would recommend it to anyone. It certainly makes it easier to clean your 4WD.

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Are you really hard on the gear and still not convinced?

There are many styles of paint protection films which will provide extremely good protection to your paint.

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These are actually called PPF and were originally used by the military on helicopter blades to provide protection from the elements. These films have been redeveloped for the automotive industry to protect the external surfaces from all sorts of damage from the elements.

It’s a clear 6 mil thick clear urethane coating which protects your vehicle extremely well and at the same time, still showcases your original vehicle colour. Some of these products are self healing, which means that even in the event that the clear coating gets scratched, the scratches will disappear in time.

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This product is cut out on a cad device, as it is actually created from templates matching your vehicles panels. My only negative to this product is that the edges of the clear film could yellow over time. Usually, the product edge will fall short of the vehicles panels by 1-2 mm and if not looked after, could be something you notice after a few years. This might have improved with new techniques etc, but should be discussed with the company installing it on your vehicle.

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House of Tint

Another extremely hard wearing product is by Bush Barrier.

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Photo courtesy: Bush Barrier by Gavin Harris

Skye and Steve damaged their 200 Series Landcruiser on some scratchy tracks and figured there should be a product on the market to prevent this from happening. So they created Bush Barrier. This is a rubber magnetic material with a PVC coating which is around 10 x thicker than a vinyl wrap. Like the PPF system, this is cut out from exact templates of your vehicle, but in this case, the guys at Bush Barrier are creating a removable panel system for you to install. The final product is produced in News South Wales and shipped to your door.

So this is actually a kit which when you are heading bush to locations where you would like to have paint protection, like the high country, you clean your vehicle and simply stick the product pieces onto the panels of your vehicle. Stick?… well they are magnetic, so the magnet holds the system in place. And when you arrive home, after giving your vehicle a clean, you can roll up your protective kit for the next time you head off-road. Your original paint has been protected so there is very little opportunity for it to have pinstripes and the like.

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photo courtesy Bush Barrier

The added benefit of this system is that you can create a custom look to your vehicle which will make it a one of a kind. The team at Bush Barrier can help with designing your “weekend look” and after the system is printed to a great standard, you are ready for action.

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photo courtesy Bryce Calow

The average system weighs in at around 15 kgs and takes around 10 minutes to install, but I feel that this is a really good way of protecting panels from just about anything.

This is not a permanent coating and should only be used when heading out off-road, then stored for the next trip.

Bush Barrier

What about a permanent coating?

Well I have to admit, I have seen 4WDs completely painted with this product and I feel sorry for the trees that they might rub against, as the trees don’t have a chance.

Mark Boxer from Hoon TV has his custom black 80 series “Frank the Tank” covered in this product. He loves it and showed me how strong the coating really is.

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photo courtesy Hoon TV

Raptor coat is a paint on product which is extremely durable and extremely hard wearing. It’s incredibly tough and withstands stone chips, and almost anything you can chuck at it. This is also heavily utilised as a tub liner.

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We actually use this product on our 79 series on parts that we figured would be doing it tough. After talking with Warren at Raptor Coat, we actually spray painted the leading edges of rear guards and tool boxes etc, using an ARB twin compressor.

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After 200,000 kms, it has performed extremely well. It’s easy to touch up with a refresher coat, or simply spray a little satin black over any stone chips.

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This product also comes in a roll on version. We have also installed it just behind the rear wheels on the Sandy 60 to offer serious paint protection.

If you have a favourite paint protection product, please enter the details in the comments below.

So before you head out on the tracks and scratch your 4WD, make sure you create an opportunity to provide a little paint protection for your pride and joy.

-Michael Ellem

Offroad Images

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