Ceramic coatings are one of the best investments for car enthusiasts, and anyone who owns a car for that matter. Regardless of if the ceramic coating was applied by a professional detailer, auto salon, or DIYed on a Saturday afternoon, it’s important to keep it properly maintained and in good condition. This is typically done by following the directions on the bottle while washing your car.
That said, routine ceramic coating maintenance isn’t as simple as it sounds, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Let’s go over some tips and tricks on washing a ceramic coated vehicle and maintaining it.
What Is Ceramic Coating?
Ceramic coatings are a semi-permanent or permanent coating that’s applied to the exterior of a vehicle to protect it from damages. It’s a nanoscopic treatment that is applied in liquid form, but forms a hard layer once fully cured. Usually, ceramic coatings are composed of silicon dioxide, or SiO2, which is sourced from materials like quartz and sand. When these chemicals bond with a car’s paint work, they create a water-repelling effect, known in the detailing world as hydrophobic.
Why is Ceramic Coat Maintenance Important?
At 3D Car Care, we get asked all the time if ceramic coatings need maintenance. The answer is yes. Many believe that having a car ceramic coating is a one-and-done solution, and that once it's applied, you never have to wash your car again. The internet has tons of valuable information, but ceramic coating myths aren’t one of them. The coating itself doesn’t have “self-healing” properties. Although day-to-day wear and tear like water, dust and dirt cleans effortlessly thanks to the coating's slippery surface; neglect will put you back to square one with a contaminated car. At 3D, we highly suggest either weekly or bi-weekly maintenance washes to let the coating do its job.
So how exactly do you wash a ceramic coated car?
Washing and Maintaining Ceramic Coated Car
We’re going to assume the car’s coating has properly cured and is ready for its first post-coating wash. It’s important to let the coating fully cure before attempting a contact wash. Many people claim their coating isn’t performing the way they expected, and more often than not it comes down to how the coating is being maintained.
Here are 7 tips on how to wash and maintain a ceramic coated car:
1. Keep Dirt Off
To keep a coating performing at its optimal level, you should be washing it once a week. If one wash a week is too frequent, then at least once every two weeks is the bare minimum.
2. Safe Washing Methods
Usually, before a professional applies a ceramic coating on a car, they’ll clay bar the car then perform a paint correction polish. If so, then proper washing methods are imperative to avoid scratches and swirls.
To reduce the risk of damaging your paint, use a pre-wash foam, the two-bucket method, grit guards when possible, high-quality microfiber wash mitts, and a premium drying towel or dedicated blower while drying.
3. Proper Car Wash Soap
At the very least, you should be washing your car with a pH balanced car wash soap. Using harsh cleaning products, such as dish soap, can drastically shorten the life of the ceramic coating and potentially strip existing sealants on the paint surface.
If you notice your car’s coating isn’t beading or sheeting like it used to, try using a pH balanced car wash soap as mentioned above to bring it back to life.
4. Use Boosters
Using an SiO2 infused quick detail spray in between washes is a great way to prolong and enhance the performance of your ceramic coating. These sprays act as a top-up to the existing protection and bring back the amazing hydrophobic properties you’re accustomed to.
5. Proper Drying
Touching on drying again, it’s vital to properly dry a ceramic coated car after washing it. By using the wrong drying techniques, you can risk damaging the coating and the paint. Use a large high-quality microfiber drying towel, like the 3D Hydro-Fil 1200 GSM towel. In addition to proper drying tools, it’s equally as important to thoroughly dry the car to prevent any water spots.
6. Always Use Clean Equipment
Whether you’re washing, drying, or applying a product, it’s vital to avoid cross-contamination of other cleaning supplies. Always ensure towels, mitts, and buckets are completely clean before use.
7. No Shortcuts
What do we mean by no shortcuts? We’re referring to automatic drive-in car washes. These are huge no-no, regardless of ceramic coating or not. The quickest way to destroy a ceramic coating is to take it to a drive-through car wash. The soaps these places use are pH aggressive, and the mops and brushes that wipe your car are built for longevity, meaning they’ll wreak havoc on your coating and paint.
Getting your car ceramic coated is a wise and proactive decision that requires time and research. If you are going to pay a professional to coat your vehicle with a high-quality professional-grade nano ceramic coating, be sure to ask them for advice on how to best maintain the coating. If you go down the DIY route, refer back to this article to ensure safe and proper maintenance.