After well over a decade of application to automobiles around the world, ceramic coatings are finally breaking out into the mainstream. Until recently, only die-hard hobbyists, professional detailers and others in the automotive industry knew of the power and value of ceramic for paint protection. Still, many people wonder if these coatings are worth their cost.
What is ceramic coating?
Ceramic coating is a liquid polymer applied over your vehicle’s paint job. This polymer binds with the paint molecules to add a layer of protection from damage, dirt, weather, insect fluids, the sun’s UV rays and acid rain. The coating also makes your paint appear glossier for two years or more.
How do these coatings work?
Ceramic coating does not just work better as paint protection because it forms a hard outer shell over the paint. It also works better than waxes and paint sealants because of how the ceramic bonds with your car’s paint molecules. Instead of sitting on the surface like wax or sealant, this coating creates a new substrate with the paint. The bonded result is much more difficult to remove than other sealants. In turn, this bond also makes it more durable and longer-lasting.
Do I need ceramic coating on my car, truck or SUV?
Ceramic coating adds a layer of protection to your car’s paint, on top of the clear coat. This coating also makes the paint look better while better maintaining the vehicle’s trade-in value. It makes washing and drying your car easier, acting like a shield against everyday dirt and debris. It keeps UV oxidation, light scratches and chemical etching from appearing on your paint.
Is ceramic coating a DIY job, or do I need to pay the professionals?
You can certainly use a DIY kit to apply ceramic coating on your car, yourself. These kits are very inexpensive at $50 to $150 each. But as with many things in life, you only get the value you put into it. In most ways, a DIY kit cannot come close to the beauty and protection provided by professionally applied ceramic coating.
One aspect of this work that proves difficult for DIYers is ensuring a spotless paint surface before application of the ceramic. It is critical that you remove all surface contaminants. This means clearing away all signs of dirt, tar, bugs or other debris. That, in itself, can take more time than you have to spend on the process. It also makes paying the pros much easier. They have the skills, training and equipment to get the job done much more quickly and thoroughly.
Besides removing dirt and debris, it is important to fix other imperfections. These require claying and buffing. After the touch-up of the paint surface, no one can touch it or expose it to the elements before application of the coating. So, obviously, the pros have another advantage of being able to get these steps done properly within a clean indoor space designed specifically for this purpose.
After ceramic coating, do I still have to wash and wax my car?
No matter what type of coating your vehicle has on it, dirt eventually accumulates on its surface. A ceramic coating cannot change this.
However, having the paint coated with ceramic makes cleaning so much easier. Dirt and water do not cling to the vehicle’s surface as they do on cars without this coating. Cleaning and waxing are made much easier and less time-consuming. If you typically waxed every three months, you can do this work every four or five months instead.
Is it worthwhile to get a ceramic coating?
The value of a ceramic coating comes down to your view of car ownership. If you just see your vehicle as a way to get to work or school, the cost may outweigh your benefits. But if you treasure your vehicle, you will enjoy the benefits of ceramic coating. Ceramic coatings are particularly ideal for newly purchased vehicles, those leased with intent to purchase or when you want a great trade-in value.
Many people wonder how these coatings compare to sealants applied by dealerships. In essence, a professionally applied ceramic coating is much more durable than what your dealership provides. It protects your vehicle better and provides a much higher gloss characteristic than any sealant the dealership offers.
The best time to have your ceramic coating applied is immediately following vehicle pickup or delivery from the dealer. A new or freshly painted vehicle certainly provides the best “clean slate” on which a ceramic coating can prove its worth. But any car of any age can benefit from the ceramic coating.
Caring for Your Ceramic Coated Car
After your vehicle is treated with ceramic coating, it does need some special care. Most importantly, avoid drive-through roller brush car washes. You should also avoid wiping your car when it is dry. Instead, apply a lubricant and use a wash mitt or clean microfiber cloth.
Immediately after application of the ceramic coating, the finish must cure for about 24 hours. During this time, you cannot expose your vehicle to rain or environmental debris. Instead, it must sit in a garage overnight if rain is in the weather forecast. Before scheduling your ceramic coating application, ask the service provider if they will need to keep your vehicle garaged overnight to cure.
Where to Get Ceramic Coating for Your Car
When looking for ceramic coating for your car, truck or SUV, it is important to find a reputable service provider with good customer reviews. Look online for past customers’ feedback. When you call to make an appointment, ask any questions you have and ensure you feel good about the responses.
Be sure to ask whether you need to drop off your vehicle at a specific time. Inquire about the company’s ceramic coating process, such as whether they have indoor bays for the work completion.
Overall, ceramic coatings are considered the ultimate in paint protection on today’s market. You will enjoy the results and reduced time maintaining your vehicle to keep it looking newer for a longer period of time.