Ceramic coatings are a blessing for any serious car enthusiast. Whether you have a professional detailer or auto salon install the coating or you opt for the DIY route, it’s critical to keep them in tip-top shape. This is accomplished mainly by washing the ceramic coated car as directed and recommended by the manufacturer.
But, routine maintenance with a ceramic car coating is not a black and white – one-size-fits-all solution. In fact, some ceramic paint protection options require an annual inspection by the auto salon that installed it originally. Others are not backed by warranties – meaning you can pretty much handle the maintenance on your own.
So, let’s look at some of reasons why it’s important to maintain a ceramic paint coating. We’ll also provide you with five tips that will help you create a plan for keeping your ceramic coated vehicle in great shape, so it lasts longer and will reduce the potential of paint correction.
Why is It Important to Maintain a Ceramic Coating?
One of the most common questions asked of our team of certified auto salons is why a car ceramic coating needs to be maintained in the first place. Many car owners assume that if you apply a DIY coating or 9H ceramic coating, you don’t need to wash the car anymore, because of its ‘Self Cleaning” attributes.
This is where some of the marketing techniques put out there by several online merchants of ceramic car coatings cause more confusion. A ceramic car coated vehicle does not ‘clean itself’. The coating is exceptionally flat once it hardens, which makes the top layer very slippery – much better than a normal car wax. This produces a hydrophobic effect, where water, dust, dirt, tree sap and other debris simply slides off with little effort.
However, it doesn’t completely clean the vehicle. Residual of contaminants can still stick to the coated surface. Eventually, more small particles will stick, and begin to layer – which will cause the vehicle to be dirty. It’s for this reason and more that maintaining the coating with a good car wash every few weeks is recommended.
What is Included in Ceramic Coating Maintenance?
There are several grades of quartz coating for paint protection out there for your vehicle’s paint. Depending on the type of product you use, the maintenance that is recommended by that company will vary. However, there are some general maintenance steps that apply to most ceramic coatings.
The Car Wash for Ceramic Coatings
The first thing that’s involved is a good, old-fashioned, car wash by hand. Most professional detailers and installers of a ceramic coat or a paint sealant recommend using the two-bucket method of car washing. This video is a great one to watch that will explain how the two-bucket method works. Adam Cote will also explain why it’s not a good idea to visit your local automated car washing facility.
Why Drying Matters
A car wash is not complete until the car’s paint has been fully dried. This is where many car owners make mistakes – by using the wrong drying techniques or supplies that can cause damage on the coated vehicle.
When you have an automotive ceramic coating on your clear coat, you want to use a microfiber drying towel. The best ones to use are those that are a terry weave design, a 70/30 blend of polyester and polyamide, and a high GMS – above 800 is best. These are dedicated drying towels, that are usually 20 x 30 inches or bigger. One of these bad boys will dry your entire vehicle in most cases, in a matter of minutes. It’ll also cut down on swirl marks cutting into your car’s finish.
This is crucial because you don’t want standing water to sit on your car, especially when the sun is shining. If you do, water spots can start building up on the coated surface. Again, you might ask yourself, “wait a second Aiden Forde – isn’t a ceramic coating product supposed to produce a protective layer and prohibit water spots?”
Unfortunately, that’s another false marketing technique. A ceramic coat REDUCES the potential of water spots on the vehicle’s paint, but it’s not water spot PROOF. They can form on ceramic coatings, especially when you live in regions with high calcium or mineral content in your water. This is common in the Southwestern US, and when combined with blistering hot sun, can quickly develop water spots – which are hard to remove even on a coated surface.
Applying a Maintenance Spray
There are some ceramic paint coating products that will benefit from the application of a maintenance spray. These products are also called Boost Sprays, SiO2 ceramic spray, or DIY ceramic coating maintenance spray. The main issue with maintenance sprays is the inconsistency of formulations between them.
Some of them are simply hybrid wax sprays with some silicon dioxide (SiO2), some are polymer or Teflon based sprays (which replicate benefits of ceramic coatings without the 9H hardness) – and others are genuine ceramic coating sprays.
Regardless of the individual formulation, there are a few general rules to remember about using them for maintenance.
Always use directly after washing the vehicle. Whether you use a hybrid spray, or SiO2 Boost spray recommended by your ceramic coating manufacturer, it’s critical to only use them once the car has been fully washed. Some can be used while the vehicle is wet and used as a drying aid, but make sure to follow the instructions.
Never use in direct sunlight. Ceramic enhancers are formulated with polymers, and concentrated ingredients that will streak when applied to a warm surface or exposed to direct sunlight. This can damage the paint to the point it’ll require paint correction or polishing to fix. To avoid streaks, and the potential of high spots, apply the boost sprays inside your garage, or early morning/late afternoon.
Consider using an applicator pad. While many of these booster sprays can be sprayed on the surface easily, others are more concentrated than others – and will apply smoother, flash more consistently, and make it easier to remove with a soft microfiber cloth.
Professional grade nano coatings like Ceramic Pro 9H are sold in warranty packages ranging from two years, five years, and a lifetime of protection. One of the best ways to maintain that warranty and ensure your coating is in optimal condition is to have it inspected by a professional auto salon who installed the coating.
During this inspection, they will check for any uneven coverage, high or low spots, and apply topcoat to freshen up the coating. The professional auto salon can also help to discover any potential issues with your maintenance car wash process. If they find some minor scratches or signs of marring on the coating, they’ll help you resolve these problems, by applying a specially formulated ceramic spray, so bigger issues don’t occur.
5 Tips on How to Maintain a Ceramic Coating
At this point, you’re about ready to learn exactly what you should be doing to clean and maintain a ceramic coated vehicle. So – let’s get cracking.
Tip #1 – Never Take Your Car to an Automated Car Wash
The quickest way to ruin any ceramic coated vehicle is to take it to one of those drive through car washes – especially if it has brushes or those curtain-looking mop-type cleaning rags. These car washes can wreck a ceramic coating in a matter of seconds. The soaps used are usually pH aggressive, kind of like an industrial detergent. Second, those washing media materials are built for longevity – not soft cleaning.
Tip #2 – Always Use a pH Neutral Car Shampoo with No Wax Added
Ceramic Pro products are going to harden to the strength of quartz. A glass coating will also block UV rays – like that of a paint protection film. Some spray coating products are not capable of this strength. However, once either does harden, it will leave a very flat or hydrophobic surface. This results in fewer contaminants sticking to the top layer of the coating, making it easier to remove debris like brake dust on the car paint surface.
As such, there is no need to use an aggressive or harsh car shampoo or clay bar to clean the surface. Always defer to using a pH-neutral car shampoo that contains no added wax. The wax may leave a residue on top of the coating, which will reduce the hydrophobic properties, leading to more debris sticking to that wax – making it dirtier. Professional grade aftercare shampoo that is pH neutral such as Americana Global Ceramic Aftercare is a great option if your looking to maintain your coating.
Tip #3 – Wash the Vehicle in Low Light Hours
When you wash your vehicle, it’s always best to do so in low sunlight conditions. Either a cloudy day, early in the morning or close to sunset is your optimal time to wash and dry the vehicle. This is since sunlight will quickly dry soap on top of the coating, can cause water spots, and lead to streaks.
Tip #4 – Use the Same SiO2 Boost Spray
Consistency is critical with any car care product. While many car enthusiasts like to try different products to use on their car, this isn’t a smart idea with ceramic boost or maintenance sprays. Before you buy, contact the manufacturers of the ceramic coating you had applied or did yourself, and ask them which product they recommend. Using multiple spray coatings can cause compatibility issues, leading to damaging the coating and possibly leading to paint correction.
Tip #5 – Always Use Clean Media
Anytime you are washing, drying, or applying any product to a coated vehicle, it’s critical to avoid cross contamination of other cleaning supplies. As such, anytime you’re going to use a microfiber towel, wash mitt, even the buckets, make sure they are completely clean, and free of other cleaners, degreasers, or debris.
Final Thoughts on Keeping a Ceramic Coated Vehicle Clean
Making the proactive and smart decision to ceramic coat your vehicle is one that takes time, research, and of course, an investment of hard-earned money. If you’re going to pay a professional to coat the vehicle with a high-quality professional-grade nano ceramic coating, seek their advice on how to best maintain their coatings.
A professional auto salon that offers a ceramic coating with a warranty will always have your best interest in mind. They want you to have a positive experience, so you’ll share the love with your friends and family.
That happens when you work with the 3,500 auto salons working with Ceramic Pro Americas. Our team of professional Ceramic Pro coating installers are more than happy to help you with maintenance services or tips on taking care of your coated ride. If you’re thinking about investing in Ceramic Pro 9H coatings, click the button below and request a free estimate.