What Is a Ceramic Coating for My Vehicle and Should I Get My Car Coated?

By Lori Straus

Ceramic coatings are applied to your vehicle’s exterior to provide an extra layer of protection against the elements and damage. However, a lot of misconceptions abound about what a ceramic coating can and can’t do. We’ll break it down for you here.

What Is a Ceramic Coating?

A ceramic coating is a liquid polymer that is applied by hand to the exterior of your vehicle. The coating creates a layer of protection on your vehicle by forming a chemical bond with your vehicle’s factory paint to provide an extra layer of protection.

Does a Ceramic Coating Protect My Car from Scratches?Cleaning the Car

This is perhaps one of the most common misconceptions: a ceramic coating will not protect your car from all kinds of scratches. Although they can be scratch resistant, ceramic coatings are not scratch proof. That means stone chips and parking lot scratches can still damage your car. However, a ceramic coating can greatly reduce swirls caused by washing, brushing snow off in the winter, etc.

Do I Still Have to Wash My Car after a Ceramic Coating?

Yes. However, a ceramic coating makes washing your car much easier. For starters, you don’t need to wax or seal your vehicle after you’ve had it washed. Ceramic coatings also repel water. But take note: some water and dirt may still stay behind, and water spots are still possible.

Is a Ceramic Coating Permanent?

No, it isn’t. However, it should last you four to five years. If someone is promising you a permanent coating, read their warranties. You may find the list of exclusions actually means the coating is semi-permanent.

If you’re worried the ceramic coating will start peeling off, set those worries aside. Ceramic coatings don’t peel off, they simply wear down. To quickly test how well your ceramic coating is still protecting your car, pour some water on it and see how fast the water beads and slides off.

Can I Apply a Ceramic Coating Myself?

In theory, yes, you can. One big word of warning, though: it’s very easy to make a mistake. Videos and images of detailers applying ceramic coatings might make it look easy. After all, anyone can swirl a sponge-like applicator around, right?

But before applying a ceramic coating, your car’s exterior needs to be as clean and flawless as possible. Once the coating is on your vehicle and cured, you won’t be able to fix those imperfections. A professional detailer, i.e., someone who spends every workday cleaning cars, will be better able to see the imperfections on your vehicle and fix them before the ceramic coating goes on.

In addition, the application of a ceramic coating is also affected by the weather, temperature, and humidity. Again, an experienced detailer will know this and will apply the ceramic coating accordingly.

Car polish wax worker hands applying protective tape before polishing. Buffing and polishing car. Car detailing. Man holds a polisher in the hand and polishes the carBeware of Company Claims

As with any important purchases, carefully research company claims. For example, a product sold on Amazon promises, “You can now keep your car looking perfect at all times…” and “The car polish will provide your car paint with a protective top coat that will keep it safe from scratches, bird drops, stone chips, iron powder and UV light fading.”

None of that is wholly true. A ceramic coating can help keep your car looking almost perfect often. Moreover, it’s not a car polish. And lastly, it can help reduce damage from scratches, etc.

Another company claimed on their website that they used the most advanced technology available to create their ceramic coating, and to prove this claim, they listed the number of sales reps they have worldwide. So, read carefully before buying, especially if you want to do it yourself.

Anyone who promises you an open road and clear skies with the purchase of a ceramic coating is selling you a product, not helping you decide if a ceramic coating is worth the expense and time. A professional detailer will set your expectations straight before you hand over your credit card.