Cars, trucks, and RVs today represent a considerable investment, and we all like to keep them looking their best.
But regular maintenance like washing and waxing a vehicle can be tedious, and the results sometimes aren’t all that appealing. Protection from the elements is non-existent, especially when considering the paint job.
Some car enthusiasts have turned to ceramic coating to help their vehicles retain that new car shine. It protects them from oxidation, stains, and environmental factors.
It’s got us wondering if this process is worth its steep price, so we did a little checking of our own.
What Is Ceramic Coating?
Ceramic coating is a chemical polymer compound that you can apply to the exterior of a car or truck. It protects the factory paint job by bonding with the paint to create a new clear layer.
This chemical mixture is usually applied by hand and can take the place of waxing the vehicle. It doesn’t break down with rain or heat and will create a glossy shine that lasts for years.
Is It Good For Your Vehicle?
Adding a protective layer to your car’s exterior paint can help maintain the vehicle longer. Not only will it look brand new, but the ceramic coating will deter stains and dirt from occurring.
A big advantage of having it on any auto is the protection it will receive from harmful ultraviolet rays, which cause paint to oxidize. The paint won’t fade or dull with a layer of ceramic coating on it.
Stains from pollutants in the air won’t stick to a car with the coating on it. Neither will dirt or grime. They will bead up and roll off the vehicle. And you won’t have to wax the car because the ceramic coating is a permanent application.
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How Long Does Ceramic Coating Last?
Depending on the polymer used, ceramic coating can last from two to five years. That gives your vehicle that shiny luster and saves you time by eliminating the waxing. Different grades of polymer can be used, providing a better quality finished product. So do your research before committing to a particular service. The process is expensive, and it’s time-consuming to take off ceramic coating if it’s not to your liking.
Because it bonds with the paint underneath, you can only remove the coating using orbital compounds with an orbital polisher. That has to be done until it cuts through the ceramic coating to reach the layer of clear coat. Be sure to find a service that offers high-quality polymers and pays attention to detail.
What Is the Downside to Ceramic Coating?
The only detriment to placing a ceramic coating on your vehicle is tempering your expectations. Keep in mind that the process doesn’t protect your vehicle from scratches or rock chips. It’s just like adding another layer of paint, so don’t expect road hazards to bounce off your car. Ceramic coating is not a thick layer of bubble wrap. It’s more like an added layer of shimmer that keeps your paint looking its best for many years.
The other negative regarding ceramic coating is its cost. Professional detail specialists spend 20 to 30 hours preparing a vehicle with a prewash, a hand wash, paint corrections, and a panel wipe before they even start applying it. So costs to have the coating added to a card can range from $1,500 to $3,000, depending on the vehicle.
But if you have experience in detailing, you may want to take on the task of adding the ceramic coating yourself with a DIY kit. Just beware that many kits don’t come with the highest quality polymers. Most kits will cost between $300 and $500, and you will be investing a good number of hours getting the car ready for application.
Is Ceramic Coating a Gimmick?
Adding a ceramic coating to your vehicle is certainly no joke. The polymer can protect and enhance the factory paint job for several years, and it will save you the time and effort usually spent waxing.
This chemical process bonds directly to the paint, making it a permanent solution (for two to five years, at least) for waxing.
Is It Better Than Wax?
Ceramic coating can protect your vehicle’s paint much better than wax by resisting heat, the sun’s UV rays, and stains and dirt from the environment. Wax will make the car look shiny, and it will help water bead up on the paint.
But it just sits on top of the paint job, whereas ceramic coating actually bonds with the paint to become a compound. You be the judge. Which would you rather have?
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Can I Do It Myself?
If you have some extensive knowledge and experience with automotive detailing, you could add the ceramic coating to your vehicle. It would save you the labor fees, which could total up to $2,500 on larger cars, but it does require a huge commitment of time. You would also be well-served to select high-quality polymer to apply rather than the ones that come with most DIY kits.
How Do You Wash a Ceramic Coated Car?
Most specialists recommend that you let the ceramic coating “cure” for at least two to three weeks before it reaches its maximum strength.
However, if a newly coated vehicle is exposed to rain (not a formal car wash) a day or two after going through the process, it should be fine. During the first two weeks, you should avoid washing the vehicle, parking it under a shedding tree, or where birds can leave droppings on it.
Is Ceramic Coating Really Worth the Money?
If your budget allows for ceramic coating to be added to a new vehicle or one with a new paint job, its benefits certainly outweigh any drawbacks.
Your car or truck will look brand new for several years, there will be no need to wax it, and you are adding needed protection from UV rays that cause oxidization and fading. These added values make it well worth the cost of investment.
Does your vehicle have a ceramic coating? Tell us in the comments below!
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