We want you to be 100% happy with your New Car Detail (Ceramic). With this in mind we have put together this short Q & A to help you understand ceramic coatings in a little more depth. If you require any further information please let us know and we will be pleased to advise.
What is a ceramic coating?
Ceramic coatings are extremely durable vehicle protection systems. Depending on the coating used they are suitable for use on paintwork, wheels, glass and plastic trim.
The basic chemical composition of a ceramic coating is Silicon Dioxide (SiO2). Ceramic coatings may also be referred to as quartz or glass coatings.
How do they work?
Waxes and many paint sealants ‘sit’ on the applied surface. Ceramic coatings work by bonding a thin layer of product directly to your car’s paintwork. Once bonded the product is much harder to remove than traditional products and is, therefore, more durable.
What do they do?
These very hard wearing coatings will give some protection against light surface scratching caused by poor wash techniques etc. Your treated car will not only be easier to clean but will also stay clean longer. A properly applied ceramic coating will also lock in your car’s factory fresh deep gloss shine.
What don’t they do?
Ceramic coatings will not protect against:
- Stone chips. A 2-3 micron thick coating will not protect against a stone hitting your car at speed.
- Scratching caused by eg hedge strikes in narrow country lanes or by poor wash practices such as failing to remove grit laden heavy soil deposits before the car is washed.
- Water spotting caused by not drying the car properly ie all water removed from the paint surfaces.
- High ph products such as TFR (traffic film remover) often referred to as ‘soap’ at car dealerships. TFR will damage your coating and is especially problematic if it is not rinsed off properly – TFR laden water spotting can be very difficult to remove.
Are there different types of ceramic coatings?
There are many products available on the market. The principle differences are the amount of SiO2) content in the product. Some have levels as low as 5% as typically found in maintenance sprays. Others have as much as 70%. As a general rule the higher the level of SiO2 the more durable the product will be. Our New Car Detail (Ceramic) uses products with very high levels of SiO2 content.
How long do they last?
This will depend on how much the car is driven and the conditions it operates in. There will also be a dependency on how well the coating is maintained.
Some coating manufacturers are now shifting away from durability based on timescale towards measurements based on mileage driven. This is a more sensible real world approach in our opinion. We have cars on our ‘fleet’ whose ceramic coating is still fully functional at around 15-20000 miles of use.
From a time perspective we would expect that a ceramic coating would need reapplying every 2-3 years depending on mileage covered and adherence to a proper maintenance routine; including safe wash practices being carried out by the vehicle’s owner.
How do ceramic coatings compare against dealership applied sealants?
They are more durable when properly applied.
Are ceramic coatings a miracle ‘fire and forget’ product?
Absolutely not, despite being very durable they still need maintaining. Beware of the hype that comes with many car treatment systems (ceramic and dealership applied treatments) that promise ‘no polishing’ and ‘lifetime protection’ as part of the deal.
We have worked on literally hundreds of vehicles with various coating systems applied and have yet to find any that meet the often extravagant claims made by the industry. It is simply not possible to coat a car, then treat it to the occasional wash, and for it to remain glossy and contaminant free several years down the road.
What is your recommended maintenance regime?
We advise that every 12 months the vehicle is thoroughly decontaminated by the removal of any tar, metal or tree sap deposits that may have accrued.
Our Base Plus detail (a slightly reworked version of our Base detail) is ideal for this. Following a thorough paintwork decontamination we then apply a high content Si02 sacrificial coating for added protection and gloss.
We have other ongoing maintenance options available – please ask about our flexible Care Plans.
How do I keep the car clean in the meantime?
A careful and regular washing regime using a reactivating shampoo and/or hydrophobic spray will keep your car looking pristine. We can supply these products directly or point you in the direction of online retailers. The cost to you is the same either way.
I’ve had my car treated, is there anything to avoid?
All the usual detailing no-no’s such as roller brush car washes, jet-washes that involve brushes and jet-washes that use strong traffic film remover. All will eventually strip any coating and remove the protection.
Anything else I need to know?
Ceramic coatings need to cure for around 4-12 hours (depending on the actual product used) before being exposed to rain. Our fastest curing product is ‘weather ready’ in 4-6 hours. Ideally your car should be garaged overnight unless the weather forecast is for no rain. If there is no shelter available we will use a sacrificial overcoat of low SiO2 coating to temporarily protect the ceramic coating whilst it cures.