Applying a ceramic coating to your vehicle’s exterior adds an extra layer of shine and protection to your paint. It does a superior job of repelling the dirt and debris that would normally adhere to the painted surface; and it lasts longer than a wax coating.
Your car resists water, swirls, and dirt like never before, and the paint looks like it just came out of the factory.
Maintenance in the form of detailing is needed in order to keep that ceramic coating looking fresh and going the distance. It’s true that ceramic coatings last far longer than wax coatings and are more durable overall.
Detailing the ceramic coating is key to keeping the finish looking good until a new application is needed. Here’s a step-by-step look at how.
Step 1: When to Get the First Wash After the Ceramic Coating
It takes up to a week for a ceramic coating to stabilize and affix itself to the surface of your car. You may feel an urge to get your car washed after the initial application, especially if it’s been raining or dust is collecting on your car.
The fact is, the first few days after the coating is a critical time for the ceramic coat to take effect, and washing the car can disrupt that process.
It’s not a problem for the coating to get wet, just avoid using soap, other wash products, or chemicals during this first week to allow for complete curing.
A ceramic coating needs to be cured after it’s been applied in order to deliver the best possible protection. This is due to the fact that the ceramic coating process involves a chemical bond that needs to be completed before it can be washed.
It takes a few days for the coating to cure, and you can’t tell if it’s completed by a visual inspection.
Step 2: Buy a Soap Made for Washing Ceramic Coatings
You can use any type of soap to wash your car after it’s been coated, but if you’ve gone to the expense of getting a ceramic coat in the first place, why not buy the right soap or shampoo?
A soap made for washing ceramic coatings contains an ingredient known as Si02, or silicon dioxide, and fills in areas where the coating is worn down. This serves to extend the life of the coating and helps it maintain its hydrophobic qualities for longer.
If you can’t find a soap that’s made for ceramic coatings in time for your opportunity to wash your car, get a soap that’s pH neutral at the very least. Soaps that have harsh chemicals can be tough on the coating and shorten its lifespan. We personally love G-Wash made by Gtechniq.
Step 3: Hand Wash Your Car
You can safely wash your car after the seven days are up, but avoid going to the car wash as the brushes can introduce swirls and lines into the coating. Instead, wash your car by hand with a soft cloth or mitt and a soap designed specifically for ceramic coating.
Also, use two buckets instead of one. That way, you can drop your mitt or towel into a bucket of clean water to wash out dirt and debris before picking up more soap. A three bucket wash is even more safe. This allows you to dedicate one wash bucket to wheels alone. If you are only using two buckets, make sure to wait till the end of the wash to focus on the wheels and tires.
A pre-wash foam is the best way to loosen dirt and debris from a panel. Foaming the vehicle lifts debris away from the surface, allowing for removal of debris and reduce the chance of swirling while hand washing.
The conditions of where you wash the vehicle can also affect the lifespan of the coating. A cooler environment can help to reduce any water spotting from residing on the panel. The best place to wash your car is in the shade. This slows down the drying speed of water and allows you to stay ahead of soapy and dirty water from drying before you can rinse it off. There’s nothing worse than the need to go over an area you just washed because the water dried too fast and left marks.
As you wash, make sure not to share the soapy water with the wheels, or wash the wheels last. Anything that’s stuck to the wheels can come off onto your mitt and get transferred to your car, increasing the risk of scratching the ceramic coat and the paint underneath. For best results, we recommend having a separate mitt just for wheel washes.
The more buckets you can use, the better, but you can make it easier for yourself by putting grit guards into the bottom of the buckets. The guard traps the debris and prevents it from swirling around in the water as you rinse your mitt and re-soap.
Something else to pay attention to is how easily water beads up as you wash the car. Areas of the car where the ceramic coat is still in good shape will bead up quickly, whereas it won’t bead up as readily or quickly in areas where the coating isn’t as robust.
Make note of these areas for refreshing with a drying spray or ceramic coat touch-up product.
Note: We love the wash guide video offered by our friends at Chicago Auto Pro’s.
Step 4: Dry Off Your Car With a Microfiber Cloth or Blower
The next step of detailing your car’s ceramic coat is to dry it off and prevent water droplets from drying in place. The most recommended method of drying the car is to use a microfiber cloth for its non-scratching properties and absorbency.
A drying towel is an oversized microfiber that is made to promote drying.
A microfiber cloth doesn’t leave scratches behind, and it’s capable of absorbing a lot of water in one pass. However, they can and will wear down over time with the potential to scratch the car’s finish.
A viable alternative to the microfiber cloth is the humble leafblower. The leafblower is perfect for the job of drying off your car without the risk of introducing swirls or scratches to the paint.
A more expensive alternative is a Master Blaster.
The best time to use the leafblower is before you start washing your car. Take the blower and use it to clear the wash area of debris and dirt that can get airborne when you’re drying the car. This way, you won’t damage your car and undo all the work you put into detailing the ceramic coat.
Once you’ve finished washing your car, grab your leafblower and dry off the car. You’ll be left with a car that looks great, has no water streaks, and most importantly of all, has a paint job that looks glossy and fresh.
Step 5: Wipe Down With A Ceramic Sealant
A Ceramic Sealant is an easy-on, easy-off formula that adds slickness, gloss, and durability to any existing paint coating or sealant. Remove fingerprints, water spots, and light dirt and dust from your cars surface quickly and easily. We prefer GTechniq Quick Detailer as it is compatible with all GTechniq finishing products and enhances your paint’s appearance after just one wipe.
In order for a Ceramic Coating to last to it’s full potential, periodically spray coating the top layer may be required. Even hard-as-nails coatings need a boost every now and then to restore shine and light durability. A ceramic sealant is formulated to do just that.
Attending a car show and notice that someone left behind unsightly fingerprints on your glass? A quick swipe with Quick Detailer removes all traces and those fingerprints and restores your perfect finish.
Most ceramic sealant have been specially formulated to work well on any surface – trim, glass, paint, and even plastics. These spray-on formulas wipe away quickly with a soft microfiber towel and leaves no streaking behind. Most ceramic sealants can be sprayed directly onto the desired surface and simply wiped away.