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The Ultimate Guide to Tesla Model 3 PPF (Paint Protection Film): Cost, Best Film Brands, DIY Tips, And More

For many, the idea of paying $4k to $8k USD to get a full Tesla Model 3 PPF (paint protection film) done is burning money.

Not judging anyone here. Just echoing the general sentiment.

Even $1,200-2,000 for a partial wrap, although reasonable, is still a stretch for some.

But protecting your expensive car isn’t out of the question.

After researching like a madman to figure out the most affordable ways to get a Tesla Model 3 PPF done,

I figured I had to share it all.

Whether you’ve got a $150 budget for a DIY project or are willing to pay for a full-coverage $5K PPF wrap, read on.

Tesla Model 3 PPF Cost Ranges

If you want a reputable, Tesla-experienced installer to do the job, prepare the wallet.

Coverage options by XPEL.
  • A full Tesla PPF job usually gets quoted for $4,000 to $8,000 USD depending on location.
  • A full front-end professional installation ranges between $1,200 to $2,000 USD.
  • While an affordable, quality pre-cut kit comes closer to $300.

For DIYers, however, enough by-the-foot film material for a full front-end PPF costs as little as $200.

A partial front-end PPF isn’t enough for most Tesla owners — but the fact that it’s much more affordable makes it appealing.

The sweet spot coverage choice is a full front end, which includes:

  • Headlamp and fog lamps
  • Full hood
  • Front bumper
  • Front fenders
  • Side mirrors
Tesla Model 3 PPF Full Front End
Full front Model 3 coverage. Credit to Exclusive Wraps.

I’d also consider wrapping the rocker panels given the stories of Model 3’s paint quality issues in those areas.

Here’s an example of what a full front-end with rocker panels looks like:

Jump to 10:44 to see full front + rocker panel XPEL protection. Done for $2,800 CAD @ Film My Ride.

Make sure to shop around. Quote the job with several installers near you to get the best price.

If you plan on doing the Tesla Model 3 PPF yourself, I can’t blame you.

I’ll cover the products and tools to do so shortly.

The DIY Real “Cost”

Professional installers charge a lot of money for a reason:

Wrapping a car is time-consuming.

It’s a manageable task but not an easy one by any means.

(Anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell you something.)

Without prior experience and a $300 budget, some have taken the challenge and done partial Model 3 PPF wraps successfully.

How this first-time DIYer job ended up. Starts at 2:44.

The key is knowing that a wrap doesn’t have to be perfect to protect your vehicle.

If you want to save thousands of dollars, I’ve compiled the best tips and installation videos in this article —

They’re meant to make your DIY project much, much easier.

But let’s discuss the installer route first.

Best Tesla Model 3 PPF Overall: XPEL Ultimate Plus (Gloss) & XPEL Stealth (Satin)

Side-by-side comparison (Ultimate Plus left, Stealth right) on Model X. Credit to Freedom101

All fingers overwhelmingly pointed to XPEL as THE best Tesla Model 3 PPF wrap to choose.

Overall, Tesla owners love the glossy Ultimate Plus for white and red vehicles,

While the preference for black, blue, and silver models is mixed — either wrap makes the car look fantastic.

Including examples for every possible color + wrap combination will make this section too long.

Google “{your color} Tesla Model 3 + XPEL {Stealth or Ultimate Plus}” to preview which one suits your car’s color and preferences.

Here are my favorites, though:

Stealth vs. Ultimate Plus

  • XPEL Stealth on Solid Black Model 3
Tesla Model 3 PPF on black Model 3.
Sick, sick look. Credit to OC Detailing.
  • XPEL Ultimate Plus on Deep Blue Metallic Model 3
Shiny, mirror-like blue.
  • XPEL Stealth on a Midnight Silver Metallic Model 3
Interesting… Credit to Like Tesla.
  • XPEL Ultimate Plus on Red Tesla Model 3.
Dude… THAT looks fantastic.

I prefer the glossy finish overall, though — and here are three more reasons I’d pick Ultimate Plus over Stealth’s satin, matte-like finish:

  • Partially wrapping with Stealth will make your car look funny. It’s full wrap or nothing, making it a more expensive proposition.
  • Stealth is more time consuming, meaning it’s harder for seasoned and new DIYers alike.
  • It’s said professionals charge higher prices to get Stealth installed (the difference being as much as $1,500). 

Your final choice will be based on the look you’re after — and your budget.

Call several installers in your area to get the best price.

Also, consider looking for the installer’s profile in Yelp or Google Reviews to verify whether they’ve done PPF jobs in Teslas before.

It’s important that Tesla’s sensors don’t get wrapped.

Any reputable shop knows this but ask around to be sure.

PPF Wrapping Your Model 3 At Home

The tools you need to do the job are the following:

  1. The film itself
  2. A squeegee
  3. A utility knife (unless a pre-cut kit is purchased)
  4. A small bottle of Johnson’s Baby shampoo
  5. 8 oz of 70% Isopropyl Alcohol
  6. Two (2) 32oz / ~950 ml spray bottles
  7. A micro-fiber cloth

The most in-depth DIY tutorial comes from Bearded Tesla Guy (BTG):

Tips start at 5:48. Jump to 8:36 to see the preparation & installation process.

Key tips:

  • Do the bumper last. Start with the easiest parts (e.g. hood)  to build confidence as you go.
  • Work as fast as you can. The longer you wait to put the material in place, the more likely it is to dry and stick to the surface prematurely.
  • Don’t stretch the material. Stretching it too much will cause bubbles and creases that you may not be able to remove.
  • Good lighting is crucial to identify air bubbles — and remove them before it’s too late.

Aside from his tips, consider the following:

  • Do the job indoors. Ideally, on a warm day. The material won’t stick as fast and you’ll have an easier time removing creases and bubbles if they come up.
  • Washing your car thoroughly is crucial. A final 25% alcohol wipe right before the wrapping process is also recommended by professionals.
  • Correct any paint areas that need it. Your car should be as perfect as possible. Any imperfections below the film will stay as is for years to come.

We’ll now discuss the pre-cut kit Bearded Tesla Guy (BTG) used for his Model Y — which happens to be available for the Model 3 as well.

Best Pre-Cut PPF Kit for Model 3: Full Front End 3M by North Tints

Tesla Model 3 PPF Pre-Cut Kit by North Tints.
Credit to North Tints.

Bearded Tesla Guy (and the positive reviews this product has) have proven this PPF kit works surprisingly well for its price.

With its pre-cut film, it’s a dream come true for Tesla owners who want to save on their paint protection costs — but have never done anything similar before.

If you want to protect your paint without breaking the bank, this is the way to go.

The kit also comes with a squeegee that customers admit is more than good enough to work with.

A particular customer admits the hood and fender cuts may not be entirely perfect,

But at a very affordable price, it gets the job done.

Compared to buying by-the-foot material, you get to skip the cutting step —

But don’t be fooled: cutting is one of the easiest steps anyways.

Plan to dedicate an entire afternoon for the job — because although the difficulty drops a bit without the need to cut the film to measure, the installation is virtually just as time-consuming.

Pros:

Fits: 2016 – 2020 Model 3.
Consider this for 2021 Model 3.
Also available for Model Y.

✅ Save 80-90% compared to professional installations.
✅ Get to skip the cutting step.
✅ Comes with a squeegee
✅ 5-year warranted 3M film

Cons:

❌ Fairly new product
❌ Hood and fender cuts may not be perfect

Best By-The-Foot Tesla Model 3 PPF: XPEL Ultimate Plus

Don’t worry. I’ve done the work for you and have estimated the exact amount of material needed to do a full front-end.

With its 10-year warranty, remarkable word of mouth, and superior self-healing properties, XPEL has eaten some of 3M’s lunch when it comes to Paint Protection Film.

XPEL isn’t the cheapest film. But by buying in bulk, you can get it for a reasonable price.

Assuming full front-end coverage, compare the cost of an XPEL Ultimate Plus pre-cut kit vs. by-the-foot material:

  • Headlamp & Fog Lamp: (kit) $69.95
  • Front Bumper: $425.95
  • Partial Hood, Fender, & Mirrors (kit): $301.95
  • Rocker Panel: $344.95
  • Total: $1,142.8

Vs.

You’ll only pay close to $305 for a partial front end.

Tesla Model 3 PPF (Partial Wrap0
What a partial front end may end up looking like. Credit to MyTeslaMiami.

Order the hood and bumper film’s width of 72″ instead to fully cover the hood —

And a 60″ wide by 5′ long film to cover fenders, mirror, headlamps and fog lamps —

Going a bit further back…

And the full front end material gets closer to $750.

With bulk film, you’ll have more leeway for error, the flexibility to order specific parts, and lower costs.

XPEL’s pre-cut kit doesn’t make much sense — it comes at just about what it’ll cost you to get it done through an installer.

But if you’re willing to buy by-the-foot material and cut it, you’ll have the best Tesla Model 3 PPF in the market for a deal of price.

Pros:

Fits: Universal, in-bulk film.

✅ Remarkable word of mouth
✅ Superior self-healing properties than more affordable alternatives
✅ 10-year warranty
✅ Available in pre-cut & by-the-foot form

Cons:

❌ Needs cut to measure.

Best Tesla Model 3 PPF On a Budget: By-The-Foot 3M

Only going for a partial wrap or specific parts?

This is exactly what SDA Dan Cars did — and the 3M product he ordered.

Although not as good as XPEL,  the widely available and affordable 3M PPF gets the job done… but usually comes in standard cuts.

(e.g. 12″ x 96″, 12″ x 180″, 12″ x 300″)

Now, that’s somewhat of a problem.

You’ll get all the material you need for much cheaper,

But since it doesn’t have custom lengths, you may need multiple cuts for a big, single parts like the hood.

That introduces a risk of leaving unprotected lines or stacking films on top of one another.

Cutting and aligning the multiple film cuts will add complexity to an already tough process.

If you opt for this roll, this tool kit (described below) is a great addition.

It’s the cheapest option of all —

But given the inconveniences of this particular product, you’re better off going buying for a partial front-end wrap.

Either a 12″ x 300″ roll to cover the bumper and roughly half of the hood,

Or a 12″ x 96″ roll, which cut in half can cover for both rocker panels and part of the doors (up to 6″ in height).

Pros:

Fits: Universal, in-bulk film.

✅ Most affordable choice. Save up to 90%+.
✅ Can be used in kitchen surfaces & other home applications
✅ May come with detailer / squeegee

Cons:

❌ Needs cut to measure.
❌ No seller instructions.
❌ May not be as durable.

Other Tools to Consider:

For your slip and tack solution — as well as your cutting process if you go for bulk film,

You’ll need some tools to get the PPF done as professionally as possible.

Too save you time, I’m including the best-selling and/or best value products in their respective categories —

But you’re free time to shop around in your nearest convenience store.

Squeegee & Cutting Tools »

✅ #1 Best-seller in its category
✅ Everything you need to cut and install PPF wrap
✅ Useful for window tint and other wraps
✅ DIYers’ perfect starter kit

Professional-Grade Microfiber Cloth »

✅ #1 Best-seller in its category
✅ Lint-, scratch-free cloth
✅ Recommended by professionals
✅ Available in 3- and 12-pack

32oz (950 ml) Spray Bottles »

✅ Amazon’s Choice
✅ Proven reliable by customers
✅ Quality, affordable alternative to Chemical Guys or Meguiar’s

70% Isopropyl Alcohol »

Consult your nearest drug store.

Johnson’s Baby Shampoo »

Consult your nearest convenience store or supermarket.

Frequent Buyer Concerns

  • Which is Better Ceramic Coating or Paint Protection Film?

While ceramic coating primarily makes your car easier to clean and water-repellent,

Paint protection film prevents rock chips and most scratches from damaging your original paint.

Unlike ceramic coating (which is a liquid solution), PPF is a thin but tangible barrier.

That fact makes it harder to install but a superior protection overall.

Both typically work better together.

Credit to AvalonKing.

Many Model 3 owners looking to save money either:

  1. Get a partial front-end PPF through an XPEL installer and then apply ceramic coating on top themselves.
  2. Or, roll up their sleeves and DIY both.
  • How much material do I need to wrap each of my Model 3 parts?

Should you want to cover specific parts,

Here are my dimension estimates, coupled with their as-of-this-writing price for by-the-foot XPEL material.

PartEst. Material Needed*Price**
Hood (partial)24″ W x 7′ L$154
Hood (full) 48″ W x 7′ L$308
Front Bumper24″ W x 7′ L$154
Fenders, Mirrors, Head lamps & Fog lamps60″ W x 5′ L$275
Headlamps (individually)24″ W x 2′ L$44
Fog lamps (individually)4″ W x 2′ L$7.33
Rocker Panels (both sides)5″ W x 16′ L$73.33
Total Partial Front (partial hood + bumper)n/a$308
Total Full Front (full hood, bumper, fenders, mirror and lamps)n/a$737
Total Full Front (plus Rocker Panels)n/a$810
*Disclosure: I did my best but measure your model to verify dimensions.
**Pricing may vary.
  • Can I combine paint protection film with ceramic coating?

Yes.

In fact, they help each other in many ways.

Here’s an excerpt from XPEL’s site about the subject:

Can I Apply A Ceramic Coating On Top Of The Film And How Does It Affect The Self-Healing Feature Of XPEL?

Yes, coatings can be applied to films.

Adding a coating does not stop the film from self-healing. Coatings can add a protective layer over the film, which depending on the coating can provide different properties. Once the coating wears down and deteriorates, the self-healing qualities of XPEL Ultimate Plus will remain.

Taken from XPEL Frequently Asked Questions.

Read more on Ceramic Coating »

  • Is there a specific situation where you wouldn’t recommend paying for PPF at all?

Yes.

If you check at least 2 out of the following three boxes:

  • You intend to own your Model 3 for less than 2 or 3 years
  • You drive in a city ~100% of the time. A big part of PPF is protecting Model 3’s no-grill bumper (rock chip magnet?) at high speeds.
  • You can’t even justify a $300 – $800 expense for a “nice to have” given your financial situation

Final Tips

It’s clear: Tesla Model 3 PPF costs a lot of money.

The easiest and most convenient choice is finding a professional XPEL installer to do the work.

Shop around to see how close you can get to the lower-end prices (~$4,000 for a full wrap; $1,200 for a full front-end).

If you’re going to pay a professional, I wouldn’t suggest any less coverage.

If you’re up for the DIY challenge, though, the most straightforward choice is North Tints’ 3M pre-cut product.

Save yourself hundreds of dollars and give them a shot.

And in spirit of full disclosure, I’m affiliated with neither eBay nor XPEL — so I don’t get paid for either purchase.

By Zac Ludicrous

Mechanical engineer by profession. TSLA shareholder before the hype. EV enthusiast all day long. Zac enjoys learning about the future of battery technology, autonomy, and EVs. He considers Tesla Model 3 the most important vehicle of the 21st century -- and is in a quest to improve the ownership experience of every Model 3 owner he possibly can.

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