If you get your car professionally detailed, you may be familiar with Ceramic Coatings. If you don’t get your car professionally detailed, Ceramic Coatings may be a foreign concept to you. Either way, as with many things on the internet, there is a lot of good and not so good information out there.
If you’re a Ceramic Coating expert and looking for the latest in Ceramic Coating nano-technology jargon, you will likely want to stop reading this article now. This article is not intended to delve into the history, chemistry or tech behind Ceramic Coatings but rather give you my real perspective and transition from skeptic to Ceramic Coating evangelist.
I’ve always been a fan of my car being clean and between personal washes (Wisconsin weather permitting), details and brushless automatics, my car is always tidy. I’ve been peripherally aware of Ceramic Coatings for about 2 years after a car fanatic friend of mine mentioned them to me. After looking at prices online though I thought that they seemed too expensive. Just as most people online with the attention span of a goldfish, I quickly found the price and made up my mind before actually understanding the benefits. After 2 years, I consulted my detailer and did the proper online research that I’m now sharing with you!
I told you that I wasn’t going to get technical but this visual will help to understand, at a very high level, what Ceramic Coatings are doing for you. Below you will find the layers of a vehicle finish starting with the metal body all the way up to the clear coat. Simply put, Ceramic Coatings are a hard protective finish that adds an additional hard layer on top of your clear coat finish. This hard Ceramic layer will absorb potential damage instead of your clear coat layer which will be much more difficult to repair.
You can also apply a Ceramic Coating to all of your interior and exterior glass surfaces. When it rains, you can expect enhanced visibility as the Ceramic Coating repels water and dirt from your windshield. You can also expect your glass surfaces to stay cleaner longer.
When it comes to how long you can expect your Ceramic Coating to last, there are a number of options that your detailer will offer. Most come in 3, 6 year and lifetime guarantees and I would ask your detailer which manufacturer products they carry. My detailer was a System-X Accredited Installer and after reviewing their marketing material and doing some additional research online, I decided it was time to finally get my car coated.
After FINALLY deciding to get my car coated, it was time to schedule my appointment. Once I consulted with my detailer, I chose to go with a 3 year coating. This was a personal preference based primarily off of the fact that I plan to get a new vehicle around that time and didn’t want to spend the extra money. When I get my next new vehicle, I will definitely go with either a 7 year or lifetime product.
One thing to keep in mind when booking is cure time which may require you to leave your car overnight. Cure time is the amount of time it takes before you should get your car wet. Some products cure in hours and as long as it’s not raining, you can drive home and get it back in your garage to finish the curing process. I took the safer route and decided to keep my car at my detailer’s shop over night to ensure a full 24 cure time which is preferred for most applications.
One misconception I had was that I just dropped my car off and my detailer slapped some Ceramic Coating on it and voila, my car is protected. Well I found out that it’s not quite that easy and actually takes a number of steps to prep the surface prior to coating. Remember the finish layers image above? Imagine there were contaminants that were unremoved from your clear coat. All you would be doing is locking in those contaminants with a Ceramic Coating which would cause it to fail quickly.
Without going into too much detail, my car was first hand-washed, claybar treated, hand-dried, polished and then sprayed with a light pre-coating application. The entire pre-application process actually took 4 hours which I never would have guessed. After hand drying, the vehicle went through a thorough inspection of the paint under special LED lights to address any paint imperfections, scratches or swirl marks. We then followed up by a paint correction to make sure the paint is in perfect condition prior to the coating application.
Once prep is final, my car was coated which entails a hand application of the product followed by a light wiping and subsequent hand polish with microfiber. Like a surgeon informing me of the outcome of a surgery, my detailer called me to let me know my car was done and everything went as planned. I wouldn’t exactly say that I was relieved but it was a very nice touch.
Needless to say, I had no idea how in-depth this process was.
The Finished Product
It’s been a few months since I had my car coated and now I actually look forward to getting caught in the rain to see the water dance off of my hood. I accidentally left my car out in the snow in January and when I brushed it off, the snow just slid off the surface of my car. NOTHING wants to stick to it including, snow, dirt, grime, salt and other corrosive road chemicals.
I really could not be happier and wish I would have done it sooner. I also started on a maintenance program with my detailer so I can have my car hand-washed every two weeks to protect the coating and keep my car cleaner and paint glistening.
My Two Cents
Ceramic coatings may not be for everyone but if you love your car, have the need to keep it protected for 3+ years and want your finish to have more gloss and depth, you should definitely look into it. Don’t be lazy like me and breeze over the research before making a decision. This is a large expense for many but from my personal experience, it is not only money well spent but will protect my investment for years to come.