Let's just start off by saying 'congrats' on your fresh coating! There's been a lot of work that went into getting your vehicle looking the way it does, and first thing's first: enjoy it! There's a big BUT in the room with us right now, though, and that's, "But how do you take care of this thing now?" Even if you did the work yourself (which we wouldn't recommend) the products are extremely expensive compared to typical waxes, and super difficult to work with so you don't want to mess it up. In this blog, I'll explain my experience from doing ceramic coatings at Clean Cars Inc. and talk about how to take care of them.
A large portion of the customers we get use us as a twice-a-year or yearly service, but like to maintain their vehicles between visits. If that's you, and you recently had your vehicle ceramic coated, this blog's for you.
It turns out, like with most things, there are some things to debate amongst detailers regarding how to care for a coating after it's been applied. I've seen a pretty full spectrum of ideas from never letting anything touch the paint with the exception of pH neutral, ceramic-friendly boutique shampoos and other ceramic products like waterless washes, detail sprays, and top-coats all the way to people saying that it doesn't matter how you take care of it, that's the beauty of ceramics. I like to find my groove using bits and pieces from the whole crowd, things just never seem that cut and dry.
We sell ceramics with it's toughness to standing up to whatever is thrown at it as one of its main features, but the reality is that how we take care of it will have a direct link to how long those beautiful results last. In the maintenance of the coating, the very first and maybe most important thing to understand is this:
This is not wax!
There's no need to put wax on your vehicle with a ceramic coating on it.
If you don't remember anything else from this post, remember that ceramic coatings are not a wax. The delivery "vessel" to get it to your paint might be in the form of a wax, but what's left to protect your vehicle's paint after wiping it down is silica-dioxide, almost a coat of glass. It's harder than wax, it's far more hydrophobic than wax, and it's chemical and scratch resistance is so high it isn't even worth comparing to wax. The big takeaway from this is that putting wax on top of the coating is actually going to reduce its ability to shed water, and therefore dirt and other contaminants. This is something to be somewhat careful about when thinking about the maintenance down the road (all puns intended), there's a ton of car care products that have wax added to them, and this is where things start gaining nuance.
We service all types of vehicles, some of the vehicles we detail stay in the garage most of their life--for a situation like this, we only recommend using the pH neutral, ceramic friendly options. Most of our customers, however, fall somewhere else along the spectrum, and will at some point use a tunnel wash (and that's fine), you will just want to make sure to get an option that doesn't have a wax application (coincidentally, this is usually the cheapest option). The other big thing to having a ceramic coating is this:
Always finish with a SiO2 spray
You'll want to clean your vehicle more than once/year (probably), and the trick is to use a car wash with no waxes added and then finish with a detail spray that includes a small amount of ceramic instead of traditional wax. There are a ton of these on the market, and almost all of them work really well, we like to use a product from Adam's Polishes for this.
At risk of sounding like a broken record, ceramics are extremely hard and the durability far, far surpasses the best waxes on the market, but this doesn't mean that it doesn't matter how you take care of it. Contaminants sitting, baking on ceramics will eventually have the same effect as untreated paint. Finishing your process off with an SiO2 (ceramic) spray will add a small amount of ceramic to what's already there and makes sure to get rid of all the contaminants.
Ideally (if the vehicle is going to be washed by hand, these are the products we like use:
Alternatively, if you need to use a tunnel wash, only use a brushless wash, on a setting with no wax. After it's finished, use the same Adam's Ceramic Waterless to finish the vehicle off. A lot of times, I'll do this in the parking lot at the car wash.
The final thing to remember is "boost it"
This is a yearly step to apply a fresh, thin layer of coating to top off what's already there. It's not a difficult process, but it is important to do a couple steps properly to make sure the boost bonds to the coating that's already there. For this, you'll wash it with a ceramic prep-wash, dry, and use a surface prep to make sure all the contaminants, oils, waxes, and other things that would prevent optimal adhesion are removed before putting more ceramic on. After the proper prepwork has been done, ceramic boosters are usually spray-on, wipe-off application. You'll want to make sure to do the wipe-off properly with this step or it could leave high spots--places with thicker ceramic than others that could look darker than normal, making the finish "streaky". We usually recommend bringing in the vehicle for this type of service.
Here are the products we like to use for this service:
I hope this helps you enjoy your new ceramic coating and keep it looking it's best for years and years to come. If this all sounds like too much to keep up with, give us a call at (336)528-4465 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can help.