You want your vehicle to look as good as it did the day you bought it. So you carefully wash it on a regular basis and you apply a new coat of wax every few months. But despite your efforts, swirl marks, chips, and stains start to populate on your vehicle’s exterior. Not only that, water spots, dirt, and grime start clinging to your car the day after you give it a thorough wash.
The automotive industry is well aware of this narrative, and for years manufacturers have been developing products aimed at protecting your vehicle’s exterior and reducing the need for maintenance.
One result is the Ceramic (or Nano) Coating industry. If you have read anything online about Ceramic Coatings, you may have come across some competing claims. On the one hand, manufacturers and detailers have made outstanding promises about the performance of their Ceramic Coatings. On the other hand, some auto care professionals have encouraged consumers to steer clear.
Let’s spend some time clearing up the issue. What’s the truth about Nano Ceramic Coatings? What are their benefits? What are their limitations? What will be best for your vehicle?
What is a Ceramic Coating?
A Ceramic Coating (such as Opti-Coat Pro, C.Quartz, and Ceramic Pro) is a liquid polymer that is applied by hand to the exterior of a vehicle. The coating chemically bonds with the vehicle’s factory paint, creating a layer of protection. A Ceramic Coating is different from a wax or sealant in that it creates a permanent or semi-permanent bond with a vehicle’s paint, meaning that it does not wash away or break down and does not require repeated application every few months.
What Does a Ceramic Coating Do?
In short, a Ceramic Coating adds additional protection to your car’s exterior and helps keep it looking like-new with comparatively minimal maintenance. The coating achieves this result by making your vehicle more resilient and easier to clean. Here are the main benefits:
Protection from UV Damage / Oxidization
If a vehicle is often exposed to the sun, its paint will begin to oxidize, resulting in dulled and faded paint. A layer of Ceramic Coating protects a vehicle’s paint from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, thereby reducing the amount of oxidization.
Protection from Chemical Stains and Etching
Another danger for your car is chemical staining from naturally acidic contaminants. By creating a chemically resistant surface, a Ceramic Coating can keep some contaminants from bonding to your vehicle’s paint. The result is that your vehicle will be more resistant to staining and etching, provided the contaminant is removed in a timely manner.
Ease of Cleaning
One of the most significant features of a Ceramic Coating is that it is hydrophobic, which is a fancy way of saying it repels water. When a vehicle has a hydrophobic Ceramic Coating, water will bead on the surface and slide off more easily. This means that mud and grime will have a more difficult time bonding to your vehicle’s paint, and when you wash your car, contaminants can be removed with less effort.
What Does a Ceramic Coating Not Do?
For the reasons listed above, a Ceramic Coating does preserve your vehicle’s exterior and reduce ongoing maintenance needs. Therefore, if you choose to have a Ceramic Coating applied, you will be adding value to your vehicle.
However, despite the claims of some manufacturers and detailers, a Ceramic Coating is not a miracle, super-cure product that will solve any and every problem for your car. Thus, it is important for you to know what a Ceramic Coating does not do.
Eliminate the Danger of Scratches, Swirl Marks, or Rock Chips
The scratch-resistance of a Ceramic Coating is often exaggerated. Though some small scratches can be repelled by a Ceramic Coating (as we described above), a coated vehicle will not be completely resistant to the risk of rock chips or parking lot scratches. Furthermore, improper car washing techniques or automated car washes will still create swirl marks on your vehicle’s surface. It is important to know that a Ceramic Coating is not a substitute for more serious scratch or chip protection (such as Paint Protection Film or Clear Bra), nor does it eliminate the need to wash your car in a proper manner in order to avoid swirl marks.
Eliminate the Risk of Water Spotting
A normal drop of water contains a certain amount of dirt or minerals. When water evaporates on your vehicle’s surface, the minerals are left behind, creating visible spots. Detailers and consumers may assume that the hydrophobic quality of a Ceramic Coating will eliminate water spotting, since water slides of the coated surface. While it is true that some water will be repelled from the hydrophobic surface, other water droplets will bead and remain on the vehicle, creating the opportunity for water-spotting.
Eliminate the Need to Wash
Notice above we said a Ceramic Coating keeps your car looking like-new with comparatively minimal maintenance, not no maintenance. Let’s face it, the road is a dirty place. If you are driving your car, it will get dirty, Even with a Ceramic Coating, you will still need to wash your car regularly in order to maintain its look. The benefit of a Ceramic Coating is that the cleaning process will be easier. Moreover, having a Ceramic Coating means that you will no longer have to wax your vehicle every few months, eliminating a significant part of maintaining your car’s exterior. Thus, a Ceramic Coating does not make your vehicle maintenance-free, but it does mean that with less work you will be able to maintain better results.
So what does all this mean? Simply put, it is important to be educated about a product before making a decision about whether it is right for your vehicle. Will Ceramic Coatings benefit your vehicle and add value? Certainly! Are Ceramic Coatings a miracle, one-stop-shop solution for all of your vehicle’s exterior problems? Certainly not!
If you’re wondering about the right solution for protecting your vehicle’s paint, give us a call. We are not in the business of making outlandish promises and pushing a product on you. Instead, we’re here to help you make the right decision for you and your car for the long run. Toward that end, we would love to discuss your specific situation and your plan for maintaining your vehicle’s beautiful shine.