If you’re thinking about ceramic coating, then you’re in the right place. Here’s answers to all the common questions I get about ceramic coating your car.
Terms associated with ceramic coating
- Unclog – Sometimes ceramic coating will seem like it’s not working or wearing down, but really you just need to unclog the coating. Doing a decontamination wash will bring out the properties again.
- Etching – Bird poop, dead bugs, tree sap, water spots, etc. can etch into your paint or coating if you leave it on there long enough. The acid or minerals in the substances will break down the top later, causing it to stain. The only way to get these etchings out is to polish, so make sure you wash your car every couple weeks to minimize this damage.
- Water spots – Water has minerals in it. When it’s left on your car, the water evaporates, but the minerals stay. If you don’t dry your car, you’ll end up with these pesky water spots etched into your clear coat or ceramic coating.
- Hydrophobic – This property is a signature of ceramic coating. It rejects water, causing droplets to form and slide off surfaces.
- High Spots – If ceramic coating isn’t leveled and/or buffed correctly, a high spot forms. They look like dark patches or streaks. It’s important to coat in good lighting, so you can notice these right away. If you catch them after it’s already cured, you will need to polish them out.
What is Ceramic Coating?
Ceramic coating is a liquid that is applied to the surface of your car that hardens and chemically bonds with the paint’s clear coat. It’s a very thin layer that essentially adds another more durable, harder clear coat on top of your paint, and its purpose is to add a layer of UV protection and insane hydrophobic properties. Teslas have very soft paint, and it’s especially thin. Compared to other cars that have paint thickness of around 6-12mm, Teslas range from 0.5-4mm around the car. The range is because some panels have thicker paint than others. Ceramic coating barely adds any thickness, however, because it’s all about the hardness.
Why should you get ceramic coating?
- It protects from UV rays and the elements. This includes dirt and grime build up, stains, tree sap, bird poop, bugs, etc
- Massive hydrophobic properties – this makes cleaning much easier
- Gives a very glossy, polished look – bringing the best out of your paint or wrap color
- Your OEM paint won’t be damaged by the coating – You can polish it off (professionally)
Why should you NOT get Ceramic Coating?
- Even though the coating is hard, it does not protect against scratches, swirl marks, or rock chips. You would need PPF to tackle those things, as it will add 8-12 mil of durable film. That’s at least double the thickness of your paint. Learn more about PPF here.
- Even with the hydrophobic properties, it doesn’t give you a free pass to not wash your car. If your car isn’t washed and dried properly, the elements and water spots can etch into the coating – just like they can with paint. However, there will most likely be less spots than if you didn’t have the coating since the surface naturally repels water.
How long does it last?
It usually is rated for 2-5 years depending on how well the coating is taken care of. This just means that your car washing habits, where you park, and how harsh the weather is all affect the life of your coating.
How do you maintain ceramic coating?
- Hand washing is the best way to wash your car. Learn more about the 2 bucket method here.
- I recommend washing every 2-3 weeks.
- If you see bird poop or sap, get it off as soon as possible. I use our waterless car wash – I keep it in my driver door and spot clean when necessary. This helps keep your car in good shape in between car washes, so you don’t feel like you have to do a full wash every week.
- Don’t use aggressive shampoo or chemicals to clean it – use a pH neutral shampoo with no added wax. Wax can end up making the surface dirtier by inhibiting the hydrophobic properties.
- If you get it done through a shop, see if they have any warranty packages where you can go in for annual inspections and touch ups. They can also give you advice on unclogging the coating if it seems the hydrophobic properties have diminished.
What do you need to do before you ceramic coat?
- Even if it’s a new car, you need to inspect the paint to look for defects, scratches, swirls, and chips. These will need to be paint corrected and/or touched up.
- You’ll need to do a full decontamination wash. Learn more about prepping your car here.
- The more prep you do and work you do upfront, the better the coating will be applied and the longer the coating will last.
- The more prep you have to do, the more expensive the install is.
How much does it cost?
- As mentioned above, the more you have to prep (paint correct, paint touch up, clean, etc) the more it costs.
- Depending on where you are and how much work has to be done, the price can range from $600 to $2000.
- You can save money by doing it yourself.
Is ceramic coating DIY-able?
- There are some coatings that are easier to apply than others. I highly recommend GYEON MOHS EVO if you want to try it yourself. We have a video explaining the process if you’re interested. I’ve put on many coatings and this one is way more DIY friendly as it’s harder to mess up.
- There’s only one coating necessary (even though you can do 2)
- The wait time is longer in between wiping down and buffing, so there’s less chance of high spots.
Should you get ceramic coating or PPF?
- PPF is better for protection against scratches and rocks. It has self-healing abilities. If you do a lot of driving, this is a good choice.
- Ceramic coating is good for making your car easier to clean and bringing the shine out of your paint.
- You can do both! They offer great qualities that can be used together for the best possible outcome. PPF comes with a hydrophobic coating on top nowadays – but that coating only lasts about 3 months. If you want it to last years, you can put ceramic coating on top. Before making your decision, remember that ceramic coating goes on top of PPF, but PPF cannot go on top of ceramic coating. If you decide later that you want PPF, you’ll have to polish the ceramic coating off first.
- So really think about what you want, need, and can afford, and then decide which kind of protection is best for you.