Whether it’s due to reduced clear coat applied to the paint, or a desire by Tesla to save weight, more EV owners are actively seeking professional coatings or paint protection film to protect their investment. If this applies to you, then it’s likely that you might wonder how to prepare a Tesla Model Y, Tesla Model 3, or new Tesla S Plaid for ceramic coatings.
Buying a new or used Tesla is a great investment – but it’s also a proactive financial decision. As continued regulations are enforced on the automotive industry on emissions, and fuel costs continue to rise, more consumers are starting to see the benefits associated with Tesla and other EV vehicle purchases.
With that said, if there is a flaw with these energy-efficient vehicles, it’s the paint jobs. This is what’s driving the smart Tesla owner to invest in professional ceramic coatings or PPF (often called clear bra). Like any other paint protective solution, the prep work completed by car detailing experts that goes into a ceramic coating installation is going to result in superior results.
So – what can you do to prepare your Tesla for a Ceramic Coating installation? Are there certain coatings you should consider, or is it a good idea to do it yourself? How are coatings installed in the first place, and what’s the process that a professional installer like Ceramic Pro certified shops complete to ensure you get what you pay for?
These are some of the questions we’ll answer below.
How Do You Put a Ceramic Coat on a Tesla?
Let’s start with the first question most Tesla owners ask online – how are coatings installed in the first place – and how do they protect the paint? A professional-grade nano-ceramic coating is installed by applying a small amount of liquid polymer coating onto a microfiber applicator cloth. Once it’s on the applicator, the installer will wipe it on the vehicle’s surface, let it quickly bond and flash, then wipe off the residue.
The coating takes about 24-hours to initially cure. At this point, the vehicle is officially protected from UV rays, environmental contamination, and becomes very slick or hydrophobic.
There are other direct consumer-grade nano-ceramic coatings that DIY enthusiasts or mobile detailers can install themselves. The problem is – they don’t last very long, and mistakes on installing them in less-than-perfect conditions can cause uneven layers, foggy-appearing paint, and even clear coat failure.
Our advice here is to either consult with or use a professional detailer to assess how much ceramic coating will cost and how it can be applied the best. The ceramic coating requires more skill in part because ceramic coating can’t be removed without paint correction. Instead, the ceramic coating wears off over time, so a skillful hand is necessary to achieve the right visual and protective effect upon application.
A skilled detailer can better anticipate how the paint on your Tesla will react to the ceramic coating, but you can still help prepare the paint before getting professional coated. If you decide to install a DIY ceramic coating on your Model X or other brand new car?
How Long After Ceramic Coating Can I Drive My Car?
There are a few ways of protecting your Tesla. The entry point is car wax or a synthetic paint sealant. These last a few months. The second point is a DIY spray-on ceramic coating. These products can hold up for six months to a year, but do not come with a warranty. The third is a DIY nano coating, like a CarPro product, which can last a few years – but again – rarely comes with a guarantee or warranty.
Then there is the professional-grade nano-ceramic coating installed by certified auto detailing auto spas. They protect your Tesla paint from damage caused by bird droppings, sea water, tree sap, and UV rays. It helps your electric car maintain a clean appearance, and can reduce air resistance – which may extend battery range.
Regardless of which type of paint coating product you choose, most ceramic coatings will bond to the surface within 24-hours. At this point, the vehicle is safe to drive. But that comes with a few caveats.
First – You Need to Keep it Out of the Rain for a Week or Two
If you live in a wet weather climate, it is strongly recommended to keep your Tesla in a garage or a carport. Although the coating is bonded to the surface, it doesn’t cure for a few weeks. This is why most professional ceramic coating companies suggest keeping the vehicle in a garage – or at the detailers shop for a few days initially.
Second – Can’t Wash Your Ceramic Coated Tesla for Two Weeks
While a ceramic coating installation helps keep your vehicle cleaner – it still requires routine car washes. The first thing to remember is to always wash the car as directed by the manufacturer of the coating. Most of us suggest using a hand wash system, a dedicated ceramic aftercare car soap, and drying the vehicle with a clean microfiber drying towel.
If you live in an area with water restrictions, you can use an eco-friendly Rinseless wash. These are very easy to use and designed to clean cars quickly, and without scratching. But again – even if the car gets wet in the first two weeks, wait to wash it before trying to dry it off. This can cause the top coating of the ceramic to wear thin or scratch.
The total cure time can be 2 to 3 weeks. In that time, aside from avoiding certain driving situations, simply try to park your Tesla inside if you can. Being in a weather uncontrolled environment, especially in the cold, tends to require more dry time. Some detailers or do-it-yourself types have used infrared curing lamps to speed up the drying process.
How Does a Professional Ceramic Coat a Tesla?
To get the full effect of a ceramic coating, the car needs to be showroom clean, free of blemishes, dirt, and anything else your eye can see. The ceramic coating installation process involves two primary steps.
Prep: The prep process is intended to remove any surface contaminants from the vehicle’s paint, glass, wheels, or interior materials that will be coated with ceramics.
This involves multiple independent steps including:
Decontamination Car Wash. A professional will use a dedicated car shampoo or rinseless wash to fully remove standing dirt, debris, and older layers of wax (in some instances).
Iron & Fallout Removal. The second step involves removing microscopic ferrous-based materials that can be embedded in the clear coating of vehicle paint. This involves using an Iron Remover (which is a chemical spray that dissolves about 85% of these contaminants in a few minutes). The second part of fallout removal is using a clay bar – which should be completed by a professional detailer to avoid scratching.
Surface Prep Spray. The final step in the preparation process is to use a specialized surface prep spray, that will remove the soap and chemical residue left behind by the first two steps. This leaves the surface surgically clean, and ready for polishing or paint correction if needed.
Correct: Tesla owners can follow this up with a thorough paint correction. And whether you have a recently delivered Model 3 or Model S Plaid, it’s recommended to have the paint corrected to a mirror shine.
So – what exactly is paint correction?
Paint correction involves using a compound or polish, a set of pads, and an electric buffer or polisher to perfectly level the pain on your Tesla. You see – a ceramic coating simply amplifies what’s underneath the hard layer of protection. This means, if there are any swirl marks or imperfections in the paint, those will make the paint job look worse. If the paint has a deep, glossy, and shiny appearance, the paint job will become visually stunning with the coating installed.
This paint correction process ensures that you get a smooth coat around a vehicle to eliminate paint swirls and other imperfections that come either from the factory or from aged paint.
When the paint correction is completed, the installer will use that surface prep spray to remove any oils and debris left by the polishing compounds – again, leaving a perfectly clean surface for the coating to bond perfectly.
A detailer will begin on one section of the vehicle, making sure to work with at least some speed to ensure the Tesla ceramic coating doesn’t cause the cloth itself to harden. A detailer will want to apply a smooth, even coat of ceramic to every visible part of our vehicle without leaving streaks or extra layers that will look uneven.
Can You Pressure Wash a Ceramic Coating on a Tesla?
You sure can. Using the ceramic coating makes pressure washing easier as water won’t stick to the surface it will run right off with any debris or gunk that might be present on the paint. Two notes of caution here to make the most of cleaning your car and retaining your ceramic coating:
- First, don’t pressure wash too close. Close pressure washing can cause premature wear to the coating and paint.
- Second, if you’re going to pressure wash, invest in a foam cannon, and use a high-suds producing, wax-free, and pH neutral car shampoo. This will help break down dirt and grime that might be stuck to the surface, so you can easily rinse it off.
- Third, even if you pressure wash the entire vehicle, consider using a two-bucket hand wash method at least once every few months. You can also hire a professional detailer to do this for you. The hand wash helps to keep the ceramic coating in optimal condition.
PRO TIP: Make sure to dry the vehicle quickly – with a dedicated microfiber drying towel. This will help reduce water spots.
So – What Should I Do to Prep My Tesla for Ceramic Coating?
We hope by now you are convinced that installing a ceramic coating on your Tesla is a smart financial decision. However, before you take the dive, here are a few tips that will help you ensure you make the right decision.
Tip #1 – Do Your Research
There are a lot of ceramic coating companies on the market today. Many of them are good – some are not so great. Then some are head and shoulders ahead of the competition. You’ll find that Ceramic Pro is arguably the most dependable and longest-lasting ceramic coatings for Tesla cars on the planet.
Tip #2 – Set Up a Consultation with a Ceramic Pro Certified Installer
There are several packages that Ceramic Pro installers offer. But, does your Tesla need the cream of the crop coating package? While a ceramic coating will protect the paint from exposure to the elements and can help to reduce scratching, it does not protect against rock chip damage or vehicle strikes.
This is where investing in a self-healing paint protection film on the front of the vehicle – and ceramic coating on other parts of your Tesla makes sense. By setting up a consultation with a Certified Ceramic Pro installer near you, they can inspect your vehicle, speak with you about your needs, and make a solid decision.
Tip #3 – Make Sure to Follow Aftercare Recommendations
Finally, if you’re going to spend a few thousand dollars protecting your Tesla, it’s crucial to use the right aftercare products and techniques to keep the coating in great shape. We’ve partnered with Americana Global, a leading premium car care brand to develop aftercare products for ceramic coated Teslas.
If you’d like to schedule a free consultation about how to prepare your Tesla for ceramic coating, click the button below.