Whether you’re leasing or you own your car outright, protecting and caring for it properly is a significant factor in maintaining its value. Taking care of the paint and exterior is one way to do that. And while there are several methods for doing this—waxes and sealants being the most popular—ceramic coating provide a new method for added protection.

Ceramic coating has been in use for more than a decade, but outside of hobbyists and professional detailers, the specifics of how it works is still pretty cloudy to many. This leaves a lot of questions up in the air, specifically, how ceramic coating works and whether or not it’s worth the price.

In this guide, we’ll dive into the details of what ceramic car coating is and how it works. Along the way, we’ll dispel some of the myths around the treatment so that you can decide for yourself whether ceramic coating is right for you.

A Closer Look at Ceramic Coating

Ceramic coating is a strong polymer that bonds to your vehicle’s paint on the molecular level. Applied as a liquid, the polymer serves as an extra layer of protection for your car’s clear coat. When applied correctly, a ceramic coating protects your vehicle’s paint from dirt, sun damage, oxidization and many of the other elements that your car comes in contact with on a daily basis. It also lasts far longer than conventional waxes and sealants.

With these benefits alone, it’s easy to see why those concerned with maximum protection would choose ceramic coating. It keeps your car looking great for an extended amount of time while helping protect it from the kinds of damage that can decrease the value of your vehicle substantially. But just how effective is it when it comes to protecting your car?

Ceramic Coating and Scratch Resistance

Some companies will claim that ceramic coating prevents scratches. That may be taking it a bit far. The honest truth is that ceramic coating is scratch resistant but not scratch-proof, and that’s an important distinction.

There really isn’t any kind of car protectant that’s completely scratch-proof. If someone takes a key to your side panel, you’ll be headed to the body shop—ceramic coating or not.

That said, when cared for properly, ceramic coating can provide resistance to dirt, dust, oils and other harsh elements that you encounter in day-to-day driving. It can also help prevent wash marring and swirl marks from regular cleaning.

Ceramic Coating Compared to Sealants and Waxes

It’s helpful to think of ceramic coating as kind of a protective outer shell for your car. It’s a highly protective barrier that not only helps prevent stains and blemishes from oils and other elements that could damage your paint. To add to that, ceramic coating can make your paint job appear glossier, give it a much richer color and add more depth to an already great appearance. 

One thing to note, however, is that when you apply a ceramic coating, you want to ensure your paint is already perfectly polished and devoid of any scratches or defects. If this isn’t the case, the imperfections in your paint will be locked in under the protective casing of the ceramic coating.

Sealants, on the other hand, can be easily removed and re-applied. If your paint job is damage, a sealant can be pulled off, the damage repaired and then re-applied. And while sealants are easier and more affordable, they don’t offer the same level of protection that ceramic coating does.

Waxes are more about appearance than anything. While they do offer some protection, they’re more about making your vehicle glimmer and shine. People that spend time waxing their car aren’t necessarily concerned with maximum protection—think car collectors that take their ride to the local car shows every year.

The biggest benefit of ceramic coating is that it lasts far longer than any wax or sealant. When properly applied and cared for, a ceramic coating can last up to two years or more. Sealants and waxes simply can’t compare to this level of protection.

Is Ceramic Coating Right for My Vehicle?

Despite its benefits, ceramic coating isn’t a perfect solution for every type of car. For some, it can totally change their car care routine and make you wonder how you ever got along without it. But for others, they might end up feeling a bit underwhelmed. So what kind of vehicle will benefit the most from ceramic coating?

If your vehicle is a work truck that gets dinged and scratched often, gets dirty and doesn’t get frequent washings and is just generally used for everyday work tasks, you’re probably better off with a sealant. A ceramic coating isn’t going to do a beater much good.

Conversely, if you have a classic muscle car that only gets pulled out to the driveway every Sunday for a fresh coat of wax, and it only touches pavement when the car show rolls into town, a ceramic coating can extend the life of your paint and help keep it in tip-top shape.

All in all, if you care about the value of your vehicle, and the paint is in good condition and you want to keep it that way, ceramic coating is an excellent value. As long as it’s washed regularly and cared for responsibly, ceramic coating can significantly extend the life of your vehicle’s exterior.

Bottom Line: Is Ceramic Coating Worth the Cost?

Generally speaking, it depends on the kind of car you have and how you use it. If your vehicle is a daily driver that’s only used for utility and will probably end up as a starter car for a teenager, it’s probably not going to do much good.

On the other hand, if you purchased your car new or you’re leasing and intend to buy, ceramic coatings can go a long way in preserving the value of your car over time. And when your coating is cared for properly, it ends up decreasing the cost of your investment as it can last even longer than what’s recommended.

At the end of the day, taking good care of your car’s paint job can do wonders for its trade-in value. Selling prices can vary between hundreds and even thousands when you start climbing down on the quality of your car’s exterior. If you want to take the best possible care of your vehicle and retain that value, ceramic coating is definitely worth the cost.

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