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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey guys, I purchased a Lotus Exige not too long ago and it came with no starshield. The front clam looks to be in immaculant condition and shows no sign of rock chips whatsoever. I guess the previous owner decided to take it off at the last minute to make the car look more appealing to sell. :shrug:

Well since I am new to the exotic scene and would love to keep that clean look on cars such as this one, I decided to investigate an alternative to the OEM starshield and found a product called the 3M Clear Bra Paint Defender Spray.

For some of you that don't know, its bascially a can you spray onto your car and it creates a thin layer of film that protects it from rock chips, bugs, scratches, and other abrasives that could potentially damage the front clam and value of your car. If you don't like it, you could peel it off with ease. It will NOT DAMAGE YOUR PAINT. You can buy a can at AutoZone or Amazon.

Paint Defender at AutoZone


3M Paint Defender Handgun - $6.99 (optional - would make your job easier at spraying)
3M Paint Defender Spray Can - $24.99 (GET IT - Comes with a small 3M synthetic wax pack)
3M Application Prep kit - $11.99 (optional - This box doesn't provide enough painters tape and plus its cheaper if you get plastic bags or old newspaper laying around the house)

Skeptical about putting anything on the newly bought Lotus, I decided to buy and experiment with it by applying some to my Civic to see how it turn out. After a few hours fiddling with it, I was quite pleased with the results and decided to go on with the Lotus.

A couple of things you would need for this project is:

-Garage with good ventilation
-Plastic bags
-Old newspaper
-Good scissors
-Blue painters tape
-3M Clear Bra Paint Defender
-3M Paint Defender Handgun (optional)
-Tweezers (optional)
-Car wax (highly recommend - included in box)
-Plastic gloves (optional - Spray will drip all over your hand making it sticky)
-6-Pack beer (optional)

First thing first, start by giving your car a good wash. Make sure it is completely dry and apply some wax. Doesn't have to be the one in the box. I prefer using my own wax, but its whatever. This is highly recommended because I was told that some guy (on another car forum) didn't wax his car and it took him 8 hours a day for two days to take the whole thing off versus that if you do wax, it'll only take about 10 minutes max. More wax, the better and easier it'll be to peel off later down the road if you choose to. This step should take approx 30-45 minutes.

After the wash and wax, its time to tape off the car. I started by taping off the top part of the clam, slightly between the wheel and bagged the rest of the car from the windshield and back to prevent any overspray. From then, I taped off the headlights, side blinkers, and grill mesh with newspapers. You can take off the headlights if you want for a better and more precise look, but I was lazy and didn't feel like doing it. Don't forget to bag your side mirrors! Lastly, tape off the front lip (Exige Model - mine was black so I didn't need to spray) unless you want to spray that as well. This part usually takes about 60 minutes to do + a beer.

Masked; not yet sprayed


Now the fun part... After you finish masking off your car, start by putting together your paint defender + handgun. Start by shaking the can, aim about 12 inches away and then spray the top part of the clam in a up - down, left to right motion slowly. Keep the spraying it continuously. I usually do about 3 full passes/ layers. Make sure to spray it evenly because too much will cause it to drip and run down, too little will cause it to rip when peeling in the future. Keep an eye out on the spray can because it tends to drip as you spray. Don't want any of that stuff to drip onto the car so keep the other hand at the bottom of the can to safeguard.

3M Clear Bra Paint Defender Sprayed - Wet


Although the can says 1 can = bumper, 1 can = hood, 1 can = fenders, and etc... One can is actually enough to do the whole front clam. Don't freak out if you see orange peels because that is normal. As it dries, everything will settle and smooth out like butter. Be careful about applying in dirty environment because you don't want tiny bugs or dirt get on your car as it dries so keep an eye out. If that ever happens (like me), get a tweezer and pluck it out.

After you finish spraying, remove ALL tape, bag, and newspaper off the car while it is still WET otherwise, it'll be a pain in the butt to remove it and risk lifting the film/bra from the surface of the car. Once you remove all the tape, newspaper, and bags, let the car settle for a good hour. Again, don't be scared if you see orange peel because thats normal. Once it hardens a bit, bring the car outside and let it soak up some sun for faster dry or if you did it at night (like me), leave the car in the garage overnight to cure. DO NOT DRIVE IT AROUND. Usually takes about 12 hours to fully dry (safe to drive after 12 hrs, but I recommend 24) and a couple of days to fully harden.

Overall, I am very satisfied with the results. There was some runny drips, but that was on my part and its barely noticeable. If you are not satisfied with the bra, you could always peel it off and do it again. I think its was well worth the $30 bucks versus that of the $800-1000 OEM Starshield. Couple thousand miles later, my front clam still looks new!

Picture of my front clam 3 weeks after the spray. As you can see, its SHINES!


Safe to pressure wash as well :)


New pics of the clear bra as of 11/14/13 (4 months after being sprayed)







As some of you see, the car still looks good. Doesn't turn yellow like most bras, pressure wash and wax friendly, and smooth to the touch. Difficulty wise one through ten, I would give it a three and i'm not exactly a DIY guy. Its not hard at all, just time consuming with the masking part. If you don't have a starshield, I highly recommend that you to take this alternative. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

... and here is my car with the 3M clear bra on :)
 

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I wanted to go this route but decided against it because it is supposed to only last 1 year. Also you absolutely HAVE to use wax before applying. Some P-car guy found out the hard way and spent weeks peeling it off dime size at a time. I decided to get clear bra after considering that it last 10 years so that is 10 application of this product over the lifetime. Would be great for the track or autox I would think.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I wanted to go this route but decided against it because it is supposed to only last 1 year. Also you absolutely HAVE to use wax before applying. Some P-car guy found out the hard way and spent weeks peeling it off dime size at a time. I decided to get clear bra after considering that it last 10 years so that is 10 application of this product over the lifetime. Would be great for the track or autox I would think.

1 year if you daily drive it, but for those that only drives 4k miles a year should last longer. I live no where near the dealer or someone that is authorized to put on a starshield so this method would be ideal.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
What about washing and waxing later once it's on? Any issues?
No issues whatsoever! Water, soap, and pressure wash friendly!
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
I will post more pictures later today after class (4 month later after spray)
 

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Awesome, thanks :up:

And it retains the shine, doesn't look weird if you wax the rest of the car and leave the shrink wrapped portion "as is"?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Awesome, thanks :up:

And it retains the shine, doesn't look weird if you wax the rest of the car and leave the shrink wrapped portion "as is"?
Doesn't look weird at all. The car is still smooth to the touch, but won't be as buttery smooth like the rest of the car waxed. You can't even see the bra unless you run your fingers on the taped off part of the car. Doesn't peel off unless you forcefully dig your fingers.
 

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I wonder if this can be applied to vinyl wrap for extra protection?
 

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I would also do some more research on how abrasion resistant this film is. I prevented serious paint damage after hitting some road debris and the clear bra took all of the damage. The damage never penetrated the bra. I would like to see someone do some tests on this compared to clearbras. I believe there was a guy testing out various clearbras by shooting pellets at them and i believe most if not all had no penetration. Definitely interesting stuff. Beats using scotch tape on long road trips.
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
I would also do some more research on how abrasion resistant this film is. I prevented serious paint damage after hitting some road debris and the clear bra took all of the damage. The damage never penetrated the bra. I would like to see someone do some tests on this compared to clearbras. I believe there was a guy testing out various clearbras by shooting pellets at them and i believe most if not all had no penetration. Definitely interesting stuff. Beats using scotch tape on long road trips.
I already put on almost 3K miles and its holding up just fine. That 3k miles includes bug season (love bugs if you live in the south), lots of highway miles, sandy beachfronts, and 1 auto cross. No rips, tears, nothing. I even hit a tree branch by accident. Bra looks to be in great condition with slight "dots" from debris. Still didn't penetrate the bra even after all of that.


Why not apply it to your headlamps to protect them too?
It's already got a protective sealant on it.
 

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Awesome info. Thanks for sharing the DIY. I don't have a clear bra on my front (too late now...since all the dings/chips, etc), but I was always curious. Should of done mines when there were still no chips, but the product didn't come out yet. Maybe if I get it resprayed, I'll try it out.
 

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I would like something like this on my windshield. I'd love a peel off layer to stop all those annoying stone chips.

I don't think this would work though as the thickness would not be consistent enough to prevent annoying optical aberrations.
 

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I have seen some bad reviews of this product saying that it is hard to 1) get smooth and 2) creates much more "orange peel" as compared to the look of a clear bra.

Comments? I realize that some of this may have to do with the ability of the person applying it.

I also question how durable it is. I have some new flaired front fenders with painted surface and no mud flaps, i was going to add some clear bra in the wheel well area as this will be sandblasted. I doubt this product could hold up to the constant abrasion.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I have seen some bad reviews of this product saying that it is hard to 1) get smooth and 2) creates much more "orange peel" as compared to the look of a clear bra.

Comments? I realize that some of this may have to do with the ability of the person applying it.

I also question how durable it is. I have some new flaired front fenders with painted surface and no mud flaps, i was going to add some clear bra in the wheel well area as this will be sandblasted. I doubt this product could hold up to the constant abrasion.
I've seen mix reviews on the product as well, but there were more positives than negatives due to the fact that it wasn't "exactly" like the original clear bra film that you buy and slap on.

I had a bunch of orange peels at first when applying the product. After it cures, everything settled and smooths out. There is a small section of the car with orange peels, but it's not noticeable and that's the part that I messed up. This was my first time holding a spray can so it was expected lol. I'm not exactly a do-it-yourself guy.

I think it looks great for something that only cost $30 bucks. Certainly not as perfect and durable as to our OEM starshield, but it's better than nothing and worth the investment to protect our cars. Expect good protection against constant abrasion, but don't expect the ultimate package. Again, it's only a $30 spray can, not a $800 starshield.

This is a weekend car for me so I'll continue to drive it some more and update you guys w/ the results. So far, it's looking pretty good.
 

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i had a terrible time with mine, following the directions to a t. may have been the humidity, but at application temp wasn't above 77. crazy range peel and much thinner than I was expecting compared to clear bra. cellophane thin even following the 4 coat directions. removal was a bitch for me as the orange peel caused lots of tears, and complex curves/edges seemed to make ripping a guarantee.additionally, as far as the protection goes...I put it on and let it cure for a week prior to a 1500 mile road trip. after getting back, bugs were literally embedded in the clear bra. I couldn't get them out. and this was a 4 day trip, so it wasn't like I left them sitting on the bra for weeks. maybe longer cure time is required in my case. FL limate may have had something to do with it, but for all the asspain I went through I perosnalyl wouldn't recommend it, except maybe for trim pieces or applying extra heavy for trak days, though I had better luck with track tape.

I apologize for the tpying my Bluetooth keyboard is on the fritz
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
i had a terrible time with mine, following the directions to a t. may have been the humidity, but at application temp wasn't above 77. crazy range peel and much thinner than I was expecting compared to clear bra. cellophane thin even following the 4 coat directions. removal was a bitch for me as the orange peel caused lots of tears, and complex curves/edges seemed to make ripping a guarantee.additionally, as far as the protection goes...I put it on and let it cure for a week prior to a 1500 mile road trip. after getting back, bugs were literally embedded in the clear bra. I couldn't get them out. and this was a 4 day trip, so it wasn't like I left them sitting on the bra for weeks. maybe longer cure time is required in my case. FL limate may have had something to do with it, but for all the asspain I went through I perosnalyl wouldn't recommend it, except maybe for trim pieces or applying extra heavy for trak days, though I had better luck with track tape.

I apologize for the tpying my Bluetooth keyboard is on the fritz
I did mine in Aug when it was still hot and sunny outside. Wasn't humid at all if I remember correctly. Started around 3pm and finished around 8pm. By that time, it was already dark so I just went ahead and close the garage and called it a night. Decided to let the car sit over night and pull it out the next morning to soak up some sun.

It's a water based product so it's gonna take some time for it to harden. That's one of the bad things about it. After a few days, it's hard enough to glide your hands across but you can still feel that "softness" in it. Having that softness isn't good because things could implant itself into the bra making it hard to remove, but it's still not that bad. About 2 weeks later, it's completely cured and that softness in the bra is gone hence the picture above (Top view of clam w/ HIDs on).

I live next door to FL so I know how them love bugs are. Soooo many bugs, it's freaking nuts! Feels like I'm getting shot at driving down the interstate. My front clam was covered in black and yellow specks after maybe 10 minutes on the freeway. One thing I notice and forgot to mention was the fact that when that yellowish bug guts get onto it, it tends to stain the bra. Can't just use water and rag to clean it, gotta use soap to get it off. Haven't tore anything yet and I wash it on a daily basis. Don't know why you are having so much trouble with it :shrug:

Haven't tried to peel it off yet so I can't really say much about that yet. Again, some people have good results while others have bad. 3k miles and it's holding just fine for me. If you want, I can take more up close pictures.
 

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I didn't want to mention this earlier but when I was heavily researching this product, I would say 8 out of 10 reviews were negative. That was one of the big reason that I got the clear bra instead. However, that was when the product just came out. They may have improved it now. I'm not sure. Either way, more options are better. I would probably give this a try for smaller items to see how I will fare.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I didn't want to mention this earlier but when I was heavily researching this product, I would say 8 out of 10 reviews were negative. That was one of the big reason that I got the clear bra instead. However, that was when the product just came out. They may have improved it now. I'm not sure. Either way, more options are better. I would probably give this a try for smaller items to see how I will fare.
I guess it's either a hit or miss? I was skeptical at first because of the mix reviews. Watched a couple of YouTube videos and on other forums as well. It turned out okay for me and thought I could share my experiment and findings to the Lotustalk community.:wave:
 
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