Ceramic Coating: Truth about Ceramic Coating for Your Vehicle
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I have completed many successful ceramic coatings for my customers, and it is one of my favorite products to use when detailing a car. However, there are a lot of bad advertisements going on promoting ceramic coatings that I would like to clear up to help you make the best decision for your vehicle when it comes to using a ceramic coating.
What is a ceramic coating?
Simply put, it is a synthetic material made from ceramic or quartz that offers a hard layer of protection on your vehicle, bonding to your existing clear coat. The hydrophobic polymers in the coating prevent water and other liquid materials from clinging to the surface, allowing liquids to bead off your vehicle, which is why some refer to ceramic as a self-cleaning coating. It offers a beautiful shine and is semi-permanent protection for your vehicles paint that enhances your clear coat.
What ceramic coating is not, and its limitations!
Not all ceramics offer scratch resistant and fire-resistant protection as many ads show. There are multiple videos or ads online showing the paint being scratched with a key and then being wiped away. I have personally tested several popular ceramic coatings on the market and found that not one of them offers complete scratch protection.
If you think about you cars paint it is built up in layers. You have your primer layer, your base layer (the color), and your layer of clear coat which is generally around 2 to 3 coats. When you add ceramic to your cars paint you are adding another 2-3 layers of semi-permanent protection. When damage happens to your car such as light to medium scratches, swirls, and light haze this happens at the ceramic coating level rather then your clear coat. In an age where car manufacturers are cutting costs there is less layers of clear coat protecting your cars paint from damage. This is why a ceramic coating is so beneficial. It adds multiple layers of protection. Its 9H rated hardness makes it more difficult to scratch and the chemical properties of the coating will protect your paint from chemical, heat, and elemental damage. When surface defects occur that are now at the ceramic level keeping your original paint well protected.
The extreme hydrophobic property makes cleaning bugs, tar, sap, over spray, rain spots, and dirt and dust much easier then ever before. Soap your car up and watch it bead off. After your do a final rinse during the car cleaning by the time you begin to dry off the vehicle 80% of the water has shed off.
Main Protection Benefits
- Added layer of protection keeping defects at the ceramic level not the clear coat level.
- Extreme hydrophobic properties to shed contaminates.
- UV Protection
- Chemical Protection
- Elemental Protection
- Self-Cleaning Properties
- Bug and Tar resistance
I use R1 Ceramics for my details. Why? because this is the main company I have found and tested and demonstrates the quality of their products.
Companies like MrFixIt9h do provide great hydrophobic properties in their ceramics and is a decent low cost ceramic, but it does not protect from scratches. R1 Coating, with proper paint correction and multiple coats, offers a higher level of hardness in their 9H ceramic and will protect your vehicle from Fallout, Tar and oil, Bug tar, dirt, sun damage, and chemical damage.
I have used this product on multiple vehicles and been amazed at how easy it is to clean vehicles after it is applied, without adding any other products after the washing phase, just a quality wipe down of the car and you are ready to go.
Ceramic Coatings do not fully prevent water spots/dirt/contaminants from clinging to your paint. I drive a Tundra as my daily truck and often take it to the country on dirt roads and through mud and water. After a couple of weeks without being washed, there are still water spots, bird droppings, and other contaminants on my vehicle.
Here is the catch though, the ceramic coating does greatly reduce just how much is on the vehicle as most of the contaminants that hit your vehicle will bead off, I would say around 65%. After weeks of not washing my truck, it looks like it went through some dust but that is about it.Bird droppings and bug tar even after sitting in the sun for over a week still easily come off with soap and a good washing mit or towel.
What Ceramic Coating WILL do for your vehicle!
Ceramic coatings do offer a greater level of protection to your vehicles paint then any wax or sealant. Since ceramic coatings harden they are not susceptible to break down like wax or sealant, and they remain hydrophobic for long periods of time depending on how many coats you apply.
Example: I detailed the front end of a very abused RV that had oxidation build up. After I restored the front end, I put a gel coating on the RV to restore its shine. After six months of being on the road and sitting in the sun (the front end always getting the most exposure) the oxidation was back, and there was lots of bug tar that would not come off via a wash. After removing all the build-up and properly prepping the surface, I coated it with one layer of R1 RV. Again, six months down the road the front is still as shiny as ever. The bug tar from being on the road washes off with ease, and there is no oxidation anymore.
When to do a Ceramic Coating on your Vehicle
New Vehicle Purchase: This is generally an optimal time if you are going to use your vehicle as a daily driver and it will be exposed to the sun and elements every day. As well the paint correction required is minimal (depending on dealership care of the vehicle) and can greatly reduce the cost to have your car coated. This option also applies to luxury cars used for daily use.
Current Vehicle: Whether you have owned your car for a year or several a ceramic coating can make the care of your vehicle much easier and greatly reduce the wear on your paint. The cost will vary depending on how much abuse your car has suffered, such as road build up, scratches, swirls, the color of paint, and so forth. Full paint correction is not always required. I go around a vehicle after a wash and tape of every visible scratch in the sun. Swirl correction is part of the next phase where the entire vehicle is compounded and polished to remove swirl marks.
Show Cars: If you own a show car I highly recommend a ceramic coating. It lasts much longer than wax and has a very deep shine and mirror reflection. It also will make it easier for you to touch up your vehicle at car shows and can be used on the interior surfaces and wheels.
The Key Element to Using A Ceramic Coating
The biggest part of ceramic coatings that personally grinds my gears as a professional auto-detailer is a quick application. Just wash your car and apply right? WRONG!
Remember that ceramic coating is a hard layer that is added to your clear coat and does not fix the blemishes and scratches on your paint. If you put it over existing contaminates, swirls and scratches, you are sealing them in place.
You must prep your paint properly. Paint correction is what makes ceramic coating come with a 75% price increase compared to using a sealant or wax. The paint correction required takes a long time to complete properly, and this is what creates the added cost. The result though is a fully corrected paint finishes with no scratches or swirls and a great protective coating.
Final Comments on Ceramic Coatings for your car
Ceramic coating for your vehicle is a great way to protect the car's paint, increase its lifespan, and add value to a depreciating asset. I have heard from customers and friends who spent between $650-$1250 to have their vehicle protected with ceramic and two years later got more than the Kelly Blue Book value when they sold or traded their vehicle. The added value is because outside of the mechanics of your car needing to function correctly, the second biggest selling point of a vehicle is the appearance!
Paint correction in any form will NOT fix rock chips. You can have them touched up with a paint pen, but the only way to fix rock chips is to re-paint the panel or area. Damage from rock chips goes through the clear coat, paint, and often primer down to the metal.