I’d like to break down some Ceramic Coating myths. There are some Ceramic Coating companies out there that you have seen online or some sort of marketing campaign, and probably left you with questionable “truth or lies” on what a Ceramic Coating actually is and its limitations.
Some of it might be logical, but nevertheless, let’s start off by saying this. Even the best Ceramic Coating does not make your car bulletproof. Besides having Paint Protection Film installed, there is no “snake-oil” and magical potion that will solve all the potential hazards your paint is exposed to.
I'm going to explain exactly what a Ceramic Coating is and more importantly what a Ceramic Coating is not. I want to provide you with the correct information, so you can have realistic expectations on what a Ceramic Coating is and how it performs. I want to equip you with the right information so you can make a good decision when choosing a Ceramic Coating for your car.
One of our clients, very calmly and seriously asked us, “Is it true I never have to wash my car again?” It definitely caught me off guard. Ceramic Coatings definitely make the car much easier to wash and the vehicle is certainly going to stay cleaner for a longer period of time and heavily cut down on the amount of washing needed, but not completely eliminate the need for it and your car is still going to get dirty even with a Ceramic Coating on it.
If you do enough research into Ceramic Coating, you're going to find information that will tell you the coating will form a permanent bond to the clear coat. The word “permanent” leads you to believe that once you have this coating on your vehicle, then it’s going to be there forever. This is simply just not true.
You can think about it like this, you can put wax on a car leave and it for five years in a climate control garage, put a bubble around it and come back, the wax is still going to be on that surface after five years. Technically you can say it lasted for five years. In reality, washing the car, sun, salt, dirt and all the environmental fallout are consistently breaking down the vehicle’s protection. Nothing is permanent. The paint under the Ceramic Coating is not permanent, everything on this Earth has a life expectancy and will break down with time.
Have a closer look at the Ceramic Coating’s warranties. They are riddled with loopholes and the fine print includes a number of things that will void your warranty.
Ceramic Coating forms a thin, incredibly strong bond on the top of your clear coat. Most will think that when it fails, it's going to fail like a clear coat, separating from the base coat. When a Ceramic Coating fails, just like when wax fails, you're not going to see it peeling. It simply just wears away and you're going to see water beading and the dirt shedding qualities decline over time. There's also no worry if you get a rock chip (don’t confuse this with protection against rock chips), there's no risk of the entire Ceramic Coating being compromised.
This is somewhat true. With Consumer-Grade Ceramic Coating widely available, the actual application process is relatively easy. That said, it’s not necessarily simple. Before you can even apply Ceramic Coating, the surface has to be free of surface blemishes, which applies to even brand new vehicles. The process really depends on the condition of the paint. As the Ceramic Coating will semi-permanently add a layer over your vehicle’s paint, it’s crucial to do any Paint Correction or Polishing before applying Ceramic Coating. It’s up to you to decide, but I do recommend washing the car, claying, polishing, and keeping it pristine while applying the coating.
Skipping the entire prep process will result in a loss of shine and the Ceramic Coating will lock in your paint defects for a long time. Worst yet, the “advertised” longevity of the product will not perform due to improper application.
While you are shopping and doing your research, you will notice one thing: prices are all over the place. You may be getting prices from $300 all the way to $3,000. There is no Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for Ceramic Coating.
This is due to dealership pricing at the point of sale, experienced installers, new installers looking for work, or just shops trying to sell work at a smaller profit but the quality is much lower. So what does your natural instinct tell you? Pick the cheapest since they are all the same!
Over the past decade, I have seen “fly by night” shops install Ceramic Coating and close down after a year or two. Leaving their clients with no place to go to for maintenance or warranty claims. I have seen brand-new Teslas and Ferraris being repainted due to poor prep and polishing techniques.
It’s a shame, but happens daily.
All the Ceramic Coatings are going to protect your vehicle the same way. All Ceramic Coatings are durable, shiny and they are going to last a whole lot longer than any wax or sealant. Ceramic Coatings vary on their thickness, slickness, durability, longevity and the gloss.
There are only two types of Ceramic Coatings, you have Professional Grade Ceramic Coatings and then your Consumer Grade Ceramic Coatings. Pro Ceramic Coatings are thick, super-glue like, and often include multiple steps to cure it into a hard thick layer, these Ceramic Coatings provide the best durability and looks. Pro Ceramic Coating companies also require the installer to be vetted, professionally trained, maintain a good reputation and facility requirements such as a clean room, insurance and infrared curing lamps.
Consumer Grade Ceramic Coatings (Ceramic Pro, CQuartz, Gtechniq) can be bought online and are typically a single level application. They are much more forgiving to apply, but they don't cure as hard, so you really don't get a deep shine and durability associated with the Professional Grade Ceramic Coatings (Modesta, Nanolex, CQuartz Finest).
In most cases, most of the time and money spent on a coating job, is the labor to prepare the paint for Ceramic Coating. Professional Grade Ceramic Coatings take three to four days to install and Consumer Grade Ceramic Coatings take two to three days to install.
This is the biggest myth in Ceramic Coatings. The sad part is, a lot of detailers and Ceramic Coating companies heavily promote the scratch resistance of Ceramic Coatings, even going as far as to call them scratch-proof or resistant to rock chips which is completely false.
“If you get a Ceramic Coating on your vehicle, you won't have to worry about scratches anymore!”
You will see a lot of false information on Ceramic Coating websites, that their product is scratch-resistant. Please don't confuse this with scratch-proof. Detailers and Consumers will often see scratches differently.
I see it on a daily basis where a client will believe that their paint is scratch-free. They may be looking at it in the garage or perhaps they're looking in a shaded area, but often times you won't see the true condition of your vehicle's paint unless you're in direct sunlight or you have an inspection light.
Deep scratches are easy to see whether you're in the shade or not, but the smaller scratches you see in direct sunlight are usually called swirl marks. The very small scratches in your paint that you see will form a spider web-like pattern and dull the reflected light coming off the surface.
These fine scratches appear anytime you touch the vehicle's paint with improper washing using dirty towels, brushes, dirt or salt getting trapped in between the towels or mitts, touching a dirty car, brushing the paint as you walk by. There's hundreds of ways the vehicle could develop swirl marks.
Ceramic Coatings offer hard protection and they will help prevent some of this marring and swirl marks, but Ceramic Coatings are not scratch proof. It only takes one bad wash to put small scratches into your vehicle's coating. Proper maintenance and good washing techniques are vital to keeping your coating in good condition. Fortunately, Ceramic Coating offers a sacrificial layer that can be removed and reapplied as necessary to protect the original paint below it.