The Enduring Truth About Ceramic Car Washes

A ceramic car wash can boost the radiance and resistance of most of your car’s exterior surfaces. When applied and cured correctly, a ceramic coating will make any surface it covers incredibly smooth and hard. This encourages road dirt and grime to slide off instead of sticking on, making these surfaces easier to clean and keeping them spotless and shiny for longer. Let’s explore exactly what a ceramic car wash is, how it works and what it can do for your vehicle.

Car Coatings: From Enamel to Ceramic

In the 1930s, car manufacturers started coating their cars with enamel paints to give them a harder finish and a better shine. To protect the enamel and smooth over small imperfections, detailers started using carnauba wax scraped from Brazilian palm trees. This added a temporary soft shell that wore off quickly. In the 1950s, government-funded scientists began mixing different kinds of silicon-based polymers in an effort to find a long-lasting coating that could protect military aircraft from wear. Just like duct tape or microwaves, military tech eventually went civilian, and the ceramic coatings soon found non-military applications in many commercial industries, including the car maintenance market. Today, depending on the brand and quality, most ceramic coatings involve silicon oxide suspended in different kinds of patented resins. Some brands add other compounds like graphene to make their coatings even harder and more durable. When exposed to the air and applied on a surface, the mixture cures into silicon dioxide, which is also the main ingredient in glass. This synthetic blend bonds with your car’s clear coat to create a lacquer-like layer of candy gloss that shines and shields.

How Hard Is a Ceramic Coating?

If you’ve ever taken a pencil art class, you might be familiar with the pencil hardness scale. Pencil makers grade the graphite in their hardest pencils on a scale from 0H-9H. Harder graphite doesn’t rub off as easily, so softer pencils make darker marks. The pencil hardness scale is also used to grade different kinds of cured coatings on how resistant they are to scratches. You can try this yourself by pressing a pencil with a known hardness at a 45-degree angle against the coated surface you want to test. If a 3H pencil leaves no mark but a 4H pencil does, your coating has a hardness rating of 3H. The regular clear coat on most cars usually has a hardness rating somewhere around 2H-4H. Once cured, most ceramic coatings rate between 7H and 9H, giving you anywhere between double and quadruple the protection of your clear coat.

What Gets Coated?

Ceramic coatings are generally applied in liquid form, often after a thorough car wash. They only take

a few minutes to apply and a few hours of air exposure to finish curing. The semi-permanent bond that emerges from the curing process can last for months. Besides your paint job, ceramic coatings can be applied to almost every other part of your car’s exterior. This includes the wheels, headlights, windshield, windows and other glass surfaces. You can also use ceramic coatings on cloth, leather, or vinyl seats and plastic or other kinds of trim and accessories. Wherever you apply them, you’ll see a glossy armored shell slowly crystallize over the surface as the chemicals cure and fuse.

What Kind of Protection Will a Ceramic Coating Provide?

Don’t be fooled by size; a ceramic coating doesn’t need to be thick to be formidable. Like Kevlar, ceramic coating punches above its light weight. Although it won’t take a bullet for you, it’ll easily deflect most would-be scratches and stains and keep your car glowing longer. Your car’s clear coat starts to look dull when tiny particles of everyday street garbage work their way into the paint’s pores. A ceramic coating provides a harder, smoother surface with no tiny pockets where dirt and debris can roost. It also thrives in many extreme weather conditions, including heavy rains and harsh summer sun. Whereas the melting point of regular car wax is around 180 degrees Fahrenheit, a ceramic coating stays bonded up to over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here are a few other tribulations your ceramic coating can smile through:

  • Acid rain
  • Mud splatters
  • Saltwater spray
  • Car exhaust buildup
  • Discoloration from bug stains and bird droppings
  • Fading from constant UV battering
  • Water spots
  • Oxidation
  • Tree sap
  • Road salt
  • Road tar

If you come into contact with any otherwise harmful chemical substances, they won’t be able to bond with the ceramic coat, so they’ll come off easily. You also won’t need to constantly be putting wax on as long as your ceramic coating lasts. Once fused to your paint, the coating will last longer than any wax or paint protection film.

The clear ceramic coat will make your car’s surface more reflective and its original color deeper and bolder. All this will help preserve your vehicle’s factory finish and make it look newer, which can help increase its resale value.

Easy Maintenance

The glass-like bond of a ceramic coating gives it duck-like hydrophobic properties. Instead of absorbing water, the slick surface causes water to bead into droplets and then roll right off, giving you a truly Quick-Quacked car.

This means that water will never touch your car’s actual clear coat, and it won’t be able to leave any permanent water spots. It can still trace cosmetic trails and swirls of minerals left behind by the dried rivulets, but these are easy to wipe off.

Even better, the coating’s ability to repel water gives your car an almost self-cleaning surface. Water that touches the surface will sweep away any incidental dirt in its path, leaving your car dry and immaculate.

Keep Your Car in Top Shape

Even when it’s protected by a ceramic coating, your car still needs a wash every two or three weeks to keep it at peak performance and prevent dirt from building up. The dirt should wash away easily, so a light wash is all you need. Abrasive scrubbing can damage the coating, so make sure to visit your friendly Quick Quack car wash for optimal results!