Some Truths about Ceramic Coatings

Protection and longevity on your new vehicle, whether it be for work, pleasure or just to get to the shops, protective coatings help maintain the quality of the vehicle you’ve just spent a fortune on.

Black V8 Mustang Ceramic Coated 3 months later
A ceramic coated V8 Mustang completed by ATD 3 months ago, looks as good as the day it arrived.

The best time to get a vehicle coated was yesterday. The truth is, paint on your car starts to deteriorate the moment it’s washed, sitting on the car yard lot, a young bloke in a bucket hat is wiping over your car with a chamois full of dirt built up from the other 40 cars he’s done that morning…. This leads to scratches.

Ceramic coatings are not a new technology, though they have really improved in quality and ease of application in the last few years. It is a micro layer made up of a ceramic polymer blend, that binds to the cars paint to create a barrier between the harsh outside world and the cars paint, keeping the paint underneath, as untouched as the day it’s applied.

With all coatings, the vehicle must be prepared to perfection. If a vehicle surface has been touched by anyone, it’s going to need paint correction. Paint correction is the process of using mechanical tools, such as a Dual action polisher, an orbital polisher, or a rotary polisher, to remove scratches and imperfections in the paint, pretty cool right.

The reason for this is because the coating actually enhances the gloss of your vehicles paint and changes the way the light refracts, very scientific stuff. If scratches aren’t removed and coating is applied, the scratches underneath are actually amplified, due to the change in refraction. There is a second reason, the coatings integrity is vastly degraded when a surface is not prepared correctly, taking sometimes years off the coatings life.

I know that was a lot to get through but stick with me, the next part is second most important step! The vehicle is wiped over to remove all contaminates from the paint, waxes, compounds, oils, silicons, generally an alcohol based prep solution, this is to help not leave any traces behind. The new coating is then applied when all other steps are complete, it is applied onto a small applicator pad before being buffed off with a soft microfibre to remove an excess coating.

The vehicle is then left overnight to let the coating cure, it takes around 2 weeks to reach full hardness and only then can it have its first wash.

It can take anywhere between 5 hours to 2 days to complete this process, the cars paint quality is the main determining factor. The coating should create protection from 3-5 years, depending on how the coating is maintained… see that’s the important part to understand.

Your dealership offers you what they say is the best value and product you can get, can you believe that exceptional service? Lifetime warranty, applied before you pick the vehicle up, written into your finance amount and hey, it’s only 5k.

Here are some industries truths we have discovered:
  1. The detailers at dealerships have never had any training at applying coatings or paint correction. They’re generally applied prematurely to incorrectly prepped vehicles which makes the coating fail and leaves someone else to fix.
  2. Lifetime warranties… sounds great right, never have to worry about your cars paint again. unfortunately, these come with contracts, and contracts have sneaky little clauses in them. You like washing at the car wash, voided, someone hits your car in a car park, voided, you miss bringing the vehicle in for its annual detail, so they can pump filler into the failed coating that you have to pay for, voided. The list goes on, these contracts are not worth the paper they’re written on, there isn’t a coating that lasts a lifetime.
  3. You’re paying much more overall. By having the vehicle coated at the dealership, they’re adding it into the price of your vehicle. Which is increasing the amount you’re spending with your on-road costs like stamp duty, don’t think your financial planner would be happy with that.
  4. The products used in dealerships are not the best quality, nor most tested. We’ve seen a number of vehicles needing re-coating after just 6 months of application to a 9H dual layer to continue to protect the paint.
Now, Remember I mentioned maintenance being the most important part? Something your dealer may fail to mention is all coatings require a different style of washing to maintain the life of the coating.
Here are the important things to know:
  • Coated vehicles must be washed with a PH neutral shampoo; not car wash, or truck wash.
  • No more automatic car wash! I cannot stress this one enough, the chemicals in the wash and the brushes in the bays will damage your coating.
  • Remove bird droppings and bat droppings ASAP, the acidity of these will damage the coating over time if left on.
  • No harsh chemicals on your paint, No wheel cleaner, No glass cleaner, No degreasers, all these things reduce the longevity of the coating.
  • No washing for the first two weeks after the coating is applied and only use very clean microfibre sponges when washing.
  • Be sure to dry the vehicle and not allow water to dry, water spots are nasty to a coating over a long period of time.

I know that’s all a lot to process, with an overwhelming amount information, but the maintenance and snake oil salesmen shouldn’t deter you from having your car coated, the pros vastly outweigh the cons. We have seen a lot of vehicles return to us over years with perfect paint making it that much easier to sell in the future, and being able to appreciate the purchase you made for years to come is priceless Our aim at ATD is to ensure people have all the facts when making expensive financial decisions when it comes to their new vehicle, it’s already expensive enough without being taken for a ride by your dealership.

For an obligation free quote or any extra information regarding coatings or detailing in general, contact us today.

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