Love bugs, mayflies, and all types of flying insects can be a nightmare for the front of your car or truck. There are many options on the market for helping to deal with the problem. Some of them are quite effective but have some serious downsides. Others range from impractical to almost useless. We’ll try to cut through the hype and lay out some practical solutions to help you deal with the problem of bugs and insect guts in the most effective way.
In almost every case, eliminating the need to clean bugs and insect guts from your vehicle is impossible. Usually the best you can do is significantly minimize the problem and make cleaning easier. While we’ll dive deep into the various options currently on the market, it is worth learning more about the best ways to remove bugs from the front of your car or truck. Be sure and check out our article “How To Remove Bugs From Your Car Without Damaging Paint”. After reading this you’ll know the most efficient methods and tools for removing insect guts from the front of your vehicle.
It’s important to understand what’s actually going on to help you understand how to properly solve the problem. When insects smash onto the surface of your paint, headlights, grill, etc. they obviously break open and in doing so spread their liquid insides around the impact area. These bug guts are acidic which not only causes the remnants to bond with the surface of your vehicle but can also etch into the clear coat of your finish or permanently mark plastic and other surfaces. The longer they stay stuck to your car or truck the more time they have to etch away at your finish and cause more severe damage. The best option for dealing with this is to remove them as quickly as possible.
There are a few products on the market that are designed specifically as coatings that are applied to the front of your car or truck. The results of these products are often better than doing nothing to protect your vehicle from the damage of bug guts but not as effective as most would prefer. Dr. Beasley’s Bug Barrier is one such product and is probably the most popular and highly rated of those currently on the market. It is a coating that is applied to the front of your vehicle or anywhere you have trouble with insects impacting your car or truck. While it does seem to make removal easier it doesn’t typically make remove as simple as rinsing the bugs off. Elbow grease is still required to scrub the insects off. The Bug Barrier coating can also leave the area’s it is applied to looking a little hazy according to some reviews. It also needs to be reapplied frequently to maintain its maximum effectiveness. If you live in an area that has a heavy love bug season or other insect blooms you may find this to be a helpful and worthwhile product. For most, I suspect the cost and effort won’t be worth the slightly improved easy of bug removal.
Bug screens aren’t a great permanent solution but they can be helpful for road trips or for people that live in an area with insect blooms during bug season. Bug screens aren’t perfect and most issues have to do with installation. The FIA Universal Bra Style Bug Screen is a popular choice. If you can take your time and ensure the screen is well secured it should effectively cut down on the amount of bugs and splatter that gets onto your paintwork. I should point out that you’ll still want to remove the bugs and insect guts that make it onto your paint and grill. This means you’ll need to frequently remove the screen to wash the front end of your car or truck to ensure the surfaces won’t get permanently etched. If you’re only using the screen for a short period such as a road trip this obviously won’t be an issue. Bug season may be a bit more of a hassle depending on how long it lasts. One note of caution with a bug screen is being careful to install it in a way that won’t rub the exterior of your vehicle. You don’t want wind buffeting the screen against your finish and wearing away the paint and clear coat.
There is a lot of debate as to the benefit of a hood bug deflector. Obviously they won’t do anything for the portion of your front end that is below the hood but for the hood, you should see reduced bugs (and rock chips!) on your hood. The effectiveness will vary depending on the design of the deflector and the shape of your car or truck. These aren’t usually expensive and may be worth the minimal expense for you. The primary downside of a hood deflector aside from expense is aesthetics. Some don’t like the looks but depending on your preferences you may not have an issue with this. AVS Hood Protectors are recognized as the leader in deflectors and I recommend giving them a good look if this is a solution that interests you and if they offer a protector that fits your vehicle.
If you’re looking to get through a trip or bug season and aren’t concerned with looks as much as you are expense, some good old painters tape should do the trick. You can apply strips across your entire front end and even mirror caps. This may initially strike you as ridiculous but I’ve seen it done personally many times. Auto crossers and SCCA racers often will do this on track days to cut down on rock chips during track days. Once your trip is over or the insect bloom has subsided you can peel off the tape and your paint will be pristine. It’s a bit of work to apply but not too terrible. The removal process is much easier and it’s way more effective than any of the previously mentioned options.
One of the best methods for protecting your finish whether it be from insect guts or the suns rays is car wax. I’m using the term “wax” here as a universal name for waxes and sealants. Wolfgang Deep Gloss Paint Sealant isn’t a wax but it is an extremely long lasting paint sealant. As of this writing the coat I applied to my personal car is a year old and is still beading like it had been freshly applied. Waxes and sealants provide a slippery surface to help prevent dirt, road grime, and insects from adhering to the finish of your car or truck. I’m a strong proponent of paint sealants due to their superior performance when compared to wax. No matter which direction you choose, I recommend some sort of paint protection similar to wax or paint sealants.
An even better solution for protecting your finish from stuck on bugs and insects is a quality ceramic coating. If you’re not familiar with them they are sort of the next evolution in paint protection – a step up from even the best paint sealants. There are consumer grade ceramic coatings and professional grade coatings. Consumer grade simply mean that they are recommended to be applied by your typical consumer. Professional grade coatings usually require a more difficult application process and isn’t recommended that a typical consumer attempt to apply it to their vehicle. Usually professional coatings can’t be purchased unless you can prove that you’ve gone through a certification program the ceramic coating manufacturer requires. The best consumer grade ceramic coating is hands down CarPro CQuartz UK 3.0. If you’re interested in doing your own ceramic coating this is the way to go. It should last a couple years under most conditions. If you can afford it, I recommend finding a good local detailer that offers a high-end, professional-grade ceramic coating. This will likely cost quite a bit but some professional grade coatings are capable of lasting for up to 10 years. Be sure to read our article “Ceramic Coating Gone Wrong” to learn more about the pitfalls of ceramic coatings.
I weigh solutions to a problem based on cost and effort compared to desired results. Based on this my personal choice is Wolfgang Deep Gloss Paint Sealant. I personally skip everything else but you can add many of these options together to achieve your unique goal and needs. Personal preference place a large part in choosing the best option here. I personally don’t like the look of adding a bug deflector to the leading edge of my hood. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s just not the look I prefer for my car. Others could care less, and if I’m honest, most deflectors are fairly unobtrusive all things considered. If I had more disposable income I might step up to a ceramic coating but Wolfgang Paint Sealant approaches the quality of a high quality consumer grade ceramic coating for less money and an easier application. Hopefully you’re now armed with enough information to allow you to choose the right solution for you. If you know of other solutions that would help other readers shoot me a message from the contact page with your advice. Again, as mentioned at the beginning of this article, don’t forget to check out our article “How To Remove Bugs From Your Car Without Damaging Paint”. As good as all of these options are you’re still going to need to remove some bugs from time to time. Good luck and happy detailing!
Featured image courtesy of Florida Fish and Wildlife