Car Bra Pros and Cons

Most people rarely consider car bras and certainly aren’t well versed in car bra pros and cons.  Don’t worry.  We’ve got all that covered and more.

Car Bra Purpose

Car bras, also sometimes referred to as masks, are designed to protect the front end of your car.  Unlike hoods, roofs, trunks or even doors, front ends take a lot of damage from rocks, bugs, and highway debris.

Basically, the rule of thumb is that anything that CAN hit the front end of your car eventually WILL. The result is more scratches, dings, and paint chips than anywhere else on your car.  Sports car drivers refer to this phenomenon as “road rash.”

Car bras are protectors that typically cover bumpers, grills and the front part of car hoods.  They can be made from a wide range of materials, although UV resistant vinyl is most common. Some brands also come with matching accessories, such as mirror covers.

Black carbon fiber Colgan mirror cover on red car
Colgan carbon fiber mirror cover

Many drivers use car bras only when they take long road trips.  While you may not encounter too many scary road hazards on your daily commute, long highway trips are a different story.  Construction hazards, road debris, and flying objects from passing trucks are all too common on trips.

Car Bra Pros and Cons

Like almost everything in life, car bras have pros and cons as well.  While the list of pros is shorter than the list of cons, the main pro, paint protection, is a big one.  The main con, i.e., do car bras damage paint, is also a big one, although paint damage can be mitigated by regular washing and waxing.

Pros

  • Protect front end from chips, dings, and scratches
  • Provide a sophisticated look, especially on sports cars (this is obviously subjective)
  • Help maintain appearance, and ultimately resale value

Cons

  • Must be installed on a clean, and preferably waxed, car (any dust underneath will act as an abrasive and scratch paint over time)
  • Can cause differential fading on older cars, i.e., the part covered by the bra fades less than the rest of the car (note: this is less of an issue with modern car paint)
  • Requires maintenance, must remove and clean when wet or dirty
  • Not securing tightly can cause flapping and ultimately damage paint
  • Costs money, especially for high-end, custom fit models.

Car Bra Categories

Car bras are a relatively straightforward product without a lot of options or complexity.  Common options and features include:

  • Coverage (full front end vs. partial)
  • Color (traditional black vs. factory color matched)
  • Additional styling features (e.g., stripes)
  • Accessories (mirror bras, mirror covers).

Who are Leading Manufacturers?

There are several leading car bra manufacturers, but the most well known are:

  • Colgan
  • Covercraft
  • Coverking
  • LeBra
  • Speed Lingerie.

Unlike car covers, there are relatively few OEM options available.

Recommended Car Bras 

Car bras are not universal so be sure to search for your car’s specific make and year model.

Best Sports Bra

The Colgan Sports Bra is a custom fit car bra with a sleek sporty look.  Moderately priced (roughly $100) and proven over many years, this mask is a perennial best seller.

Key product features include:

  • A low profile racy look
  • UV treated vinyl materials to prevent sun damage and oxidation
  • Soft flannel inner lining to help prevent scratches
  • Slick exterior surface to aid cleaning
  • Available in other finishes (e.g., carbon fiber)
  • 3-year limited warranty.

Best Affordable Bra

The LeBra Car Bra is an affordable, all-weather workhorse.  Usually around $75, this model is extremely popular.

 

Key product features include:

  • Leather grain vinyl exterior to protect from the elements
  • Knit inner lining to help prevent scratching
  • Two-piece construction allows easy hood and engine access
  • Tool-free installation for most models
  • 1 year limited warranty.

Best Premium Bra

The Colgan Custom Original offers a sporty look with premium materials and construction.

 

 

Key product features include:

  • High end, UV treated vinyl exterior layer
  • Extra thick, soft flannel inner lining that offers premium protection against scratches
  • Two-piece design allows easy hood and engine access
  • Unimpeded air flow to the engine
  • Multiple styles available for most models (e.g., full front, T-style)
  • 3-year limited warranty.

Car Bra Installation 

Installation time ranges from 15 tool-free minutes on some models to 1-2 hours on other models. Be sure to check the product descriptions to get a better idea on time required.

Here is a good example video of installing a Colgan car bra on a late model Ford Mustang.

Alternatives to Car Bras

Clear Bras.  These are basically car bras made out of clear, adhesive film.  Costs are much higher than traditional car bras and can range upwards of $2,500.  The main reason for the added cost is that these are all custom fit and may require professional installation.

Generally, clear bras provide excellent protection and have a “less intrusive” look than traditional car bras.  The downsides are that the film can “yellow” after a few years.  Also, they can look cheap if not well maintained.

Bug Deflectors.  These are low profile guards that fit where the grill and front of the hood meet.  Typically made of acrylic, they prevent scratches and chips from bugs and flying rocks.  Usually costing less than $100, they are much more affordable than clear bras and even many car bras.

The downside is that bug deflectors protect less surface area.  They do not cover grills, bumpers or mirrors.  Bug deflectors are more popular with pickup trucks, but do not look out of place on many car models.

Doing Nothing.  This is always an option.  Clear bras are sufficiently costly that it may be more affordable simply to have any scratches touched up at your local auto detailer.  However, most car bras and deflectors will be cheaper than getting scratches repaired (average out of pocket costs are $650 according to our last survey)

Conclusion

In our view, deciding on whether or not to purchase a car bra comes down to:

  • Do you prefer the look?
  • Are you willing to do routine maintenance?
  • Is a car bra within your budget?

If the answer to all three of these questions is “yes,” a car bra will very likely be a good investment.

Plus, if your car could talk, it would thank you.

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