Unless you own a complete clunker, chances are the whole, “Use it, abuse it, and lose it!” mindset doesn’t pertain to your automobile. When someone invests enough money and sweat equity into maintaining something as expensive as a car, protection and prevention tend to remain at the top of the weekly to-do list.
Routine oil changes and fluid upkeep, wiper blade installs, tire rotations, interior deep-cleaning, keeping registration up to date, and many more maintenance musts all mean one thing… car care matters.
The same can be said for maintaining a DIY nano ceramic coating. Despite their resilient nature, these water repelling, scratch resisting, contaminant deflecting layers of invisible armor are far from bulletproof, as they too require occasional upkeep.
Exposure to UV rays, acid rain, bird crap, bug guts, tree sap, and more can quickly turn even the strongest 9H-rated ceramic coating into a fractured disaster. But by keeping a ceramic coating in top form, you not only extend the life of your paint, but the way in which it looks and performs.
The following blog upload not only dives into the ins and outs of ceramic coating maintenance, but it also explains what happens when you neglect your automobile’s exterior.
Understanding Ceramic Coating Strengths and Weaknesses
Once properly installed, and allowed ample time to cure, a nano ceramic coating transforms into a semi-permanent transparent structure that is both insanely strong, and super slippery. Application wise, as long as it isn’t rubbery, fabric-like, or ultra porous, a ceramic coating will adhere to it and protect it.
From an automotive angle, this makes ceramic coatings the ideal protective layer for things like clear coats, headlights, windshields, unpainted plastics, carbon fiber aero, chrome trim, exhaust systems, alloy wheels, and much more. Once cured, a nano ceramic coating will resist almost anything that the open road, or Mother Nature can throw at it, including contaminant build-up and flying debris.
However, note that we used the word “almost” just a moment ago. Things like softball sized hail, rogue tractor trailer tires, low-flying flocks of geese, and battery acid baths will more than likely cause a nano ceramic coating to shit itself almost instantly. But then again, we’d probably do the same if we came into contact with any of these things while hauling ass down the interstate, so yeah…
Something else that a nano ceramic coating doesn’t stand a chance against, is the ever-ticking hands of time. People assume that, because a nano ceramic coating does such a great job of repelling foreign contaminants, that somehow it has this magical ability to self-clean itself.
While the average high-end ceramic coating does have a handful of self-scrubbing attributes, these are a far cry from being classified as self sufficient. In fact, one of the leading causes of premature ceramic coating failure, is acid build-up from road grime, deicer salt, bug guts, bird turds, and other unsavory stuff.
Quick Tip: UV rays can also royally wreck a ceramic coating if given the chance, so be sure to check-out our blog article on how to protect your vehicle from sunshine.
What Happens to Ceramic Coating If You Don’t Maintain It?
If you don’t take pride in your ride, and routinely wash and detail it every other week, then this section is for you.
Slapping a nano ceramic coating on a car, assuming that it will take care of itself for the following decade, is only going to result in any number of the following things happening.
Loss of Shine
However, if left neglected, this gloss-enhancing attribute is going to be the first thing to fade. A nano ceramic coating’s shine is the direct result of its ultra thin, quartz crystal genetic makeup, which in essence is silica (SiO2), the same sandy compound that makes glass. So when allowed to become contaminated, that glassy luster fades, just like it would on a filthy window.
Reduced Hydrophobic Repelling Properties
One of the greatest things about a high-end, SiO2-rich ceramic coating, is its water and contaminant repelling hydrophobic properties. Mud and water aren’t the only thing this surface protectant repels either. Road grime, dirt, dust, pollen, and other airborne unpleasantries all slide off this super slippery surface, but only when it is in optimum working condition.
So when a ceramic coating is not maintained, all sorts of shit will start to stick to it, and as we explained earlier, contaminant build-up is a top threat for this sort of automotive surface protectant. On the upside, a well maintained nano ceramic coating is super easy to clean, as most of the crud that is able to cake onto it, can either be rinsed away with a garden hose, or wiped-off away with an ultra-plush microfiber towel.
Increased Deterioration Rates
If you’re hellbent on applying a ceramic coating, but never want to wash your vehicle again, go ahead and do your thing. Just know that the coating will eventually begin to deteriorate to the point of irrelevance.
At that point, you will need to completely remove the old ceramic coating, conduct the entire surface prep process once more, and either apply a fresh coating, or some other form of surface protectant. This is both a major waste of time and resources, as well as energy and cash, so don’t be lazy, and stick with the following super-easy routine maintenance recommendations.
How to Maintain a Ceramic Coating
With the right nano ceramic coating, and a routine cleaning regiment, car detailing and surface maintenance becomes a total breeze, and your car will stay super glossy year round.
Here are four easy steps everyone should follow to extend the lifespan of their ceramic coating.
Routine Car Washes
We recommend washing your vehicle every other week, regardless as to whether you park in a garage every night, or are jumping dunes in the Anza-Borrego desert.
Remember, you want to avoid excessive contaminant build-up, so completing AvalonKing’s recommended, two-buckets-and-a-beer car wash method is going to be your key to success.
Quick Tip: Avoid using an automatic car wash at all costs, as those rough scrubbers are notorious for applying entirely too much pressure, and are often super filthy. Even touchless automated wash systems can royally wreck a ceramic coating if the soap solution’s pH levels are imbalanced, so stick with hand-washing at home, and always use a highly reviewed maintenance car shampoo.
Time Your Car Washes
We talked about this a bit earlier, but now might be the time to reiterate the fact that direct sunlight is a major cause of ceramic coating failure. Not only are the UV rays contained within sunlight notoriously harmful, but the heat contained within sunshine can cause oxidation to really kick into high gear.
So on car wash days, this heat can cause the applied automotive shampoo solution to dry at an alarming rate, which in turn can lead to hard water spots, scratching, and in extreme cases, ceramic coating failure.
This is why it is always important to either wash the vehicle in a shaded space like a carport, or in a protected area like a garage or workshop. If neither of these things are available to you, time your washes so that they take place early in the morning, or late in the afternoon, when the sun is low in the horizon.
The Two-Bucket Method is Your Friend
Earlier, we mentioned using the two-buckets-and-a-beer method for getting the most out of your sudsy automotive scrubbing session. While the link embedded above goes over the finer details of the matter, remembering to always use two separate buckets and different car cleaning supplies for filthier sections of the vehicle remains the overall goal.
Cross-contamination is a major cause of clear coat and ceramic coating damage, so always use a separate wash mitt for things like wheels, exhaust tips, and skid plates, and if possible, utilize a separate two-bucket system to keep all of that exhaust soot and brake dust as quarantined as possible.
Use a pH Balanced Car Shampoo
Automotive shampoos and soaps are specifically formulated so that they do not contain harsh chemical agents, and are pH balanced so that they will not damage clear coats or surface protectants. As for ceramic coated cars, avoiding the whole wax or polish enhanced car shampoo craze is going to help prevent you from compromising your coating.
Quick Tip: When you wash a vehicle with the two-bucket method, always start at the top and work your way down from there. Also, be sure to rinse each section or body panel as you go, to both keep soap deposits and hard water spots from forming, and to guarantee that you have not missed any stubborn contaminants.
Not all ceramic coatings are created equal. This is why Armor Shield IX is constantly being put through its paces by car owners, automotive journalists, professional detailers, and independent YouTube product testers.
To date, Armor Shield IX remains the highest rated DIY ceramic coating on the planet, and it is the only product in the segment that is backed by a 2-year lifespan guarantee. This is due in part to the fact that AvalonKing has found a way to safely instill the highest concentration of SiO2 possible into its DIY ceramic coating, the core ingredient that makes this kind of surface protectant so resilient.
But while Armor Shield IX is indeed a bona fide badass, it is only as strong as the prep work that has been put into play prior to its installation, and for longevity’s sake, relies heavily upon proper aftercare.
Routine care is one of the key cobblestones on the road to ceramic coating protection. And the only way to achieve it is by doing the right thing, and maintaining your ceramic coating.
If you enjoyed this article, then you'll love AvalonKing's automotive care products for Do-It-Yourselfers. We create "No B.S. products" for an affordable price. And the best part, we treat our customers like family, so if you have any questions or just looking to chat about cars, we're only an email or call away. Check out our homepage here.