I understand that choosing to make the investment in Ceramic Coating is not all sunshine and rainbows – there are downsides to moving forward with a paint protection coating. This post is designed to highlight the expectations for Ceramic Coating that likely won’t be met.
The Downsides of Ceramic Coating: Introduction
In any industry – an honest business will admit that there is a less than glamorous side to their offerings. It might not be pretty to talk about, but I choose to bring it to the foreground so that when you do opt to move forward there is no “fine-print”. No fine-print here meaning your expectations were clearly set and potential shortcomings of Ceramic Coating are in plain text.
Downsides of Ceramic Coating
Downside #1: Cost
Cost of Ceramic Coating is the elephant in the room that most know about when they hear about or start their search for a Professional Ceramic Coating Installer. In short sight – Ceramic Coating is about 5-10x the cost of a decent exterior detail and wax. A professional-grade Ceramic Coating should cost you no less than $1,000 or you are getting a less than reputable product / working with a less than reputable shop. I broke down why this price tag should be viewed as a MINIMUM in the Real Cost of Ceramic Coating.
For a moment we can pretend that Ceramic Coating and Wax / Sealants provide the exact level of gloss, ease of maintenance and protection against mother nature (reality: it’s not even close). While Kings Valet prides itself on its Lifetime Ceramic Coating – Let’s focus on our second offering for ease of comparison; 5 Year Ceramic Coating. To apply this coating to the paint and the FULL exterior (plastics, glass, rims and chrome) of a sedan-sized vehicle; it would cost about $1,400 or Paint Only for about $1,000. If maintained properly – this application is one and done (meaning no follow-up appointments needed).
Wax AT BEST has a lifespan of 3 months; so lets assume an exterior detail 4x a year from a reputable detailer. On the low-end to have the full exterior maintained with a wax or sealant it will run about $150 per service; or about $600 a year. Build that out 5 years to match the 5-Year Ceramic Coating and your total is… $3,000 – for WAX.
I think everyone reading this can agree that Ceramic Coating to Wax is NOT an apples to apples comparison, meaning you just paid up to 3x the cost for a subpar service over a 5 year time period.
Downside #2: Application Complexity
Many people see the number one issue of Ceramic Coating (Cost) and think “I’ll just do it myself.” Applying ceramic coating properly requires careful preparation and attention to detail. For the Ceramic Coating to bond effectively, the vehicle’s surface needs to be meticulously cleaned, polished, and free from any contaminants. This preparation process can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. This leaves many potential DIYers ready to hand it back over to a professional.
Assuming you do pull off the perfect preperation: Improper application can result in streaks, high spots, or an uneven appearance. It is very difficult to remove a Ceramic Coating. Ceramic Coatings form a strong bond with the vehicle’s surface, making their removal challenging. It often requires professional intervention and the use of abrasive techniques like “buffing” to strip off the coating entirely. See our blog post titled Removing Ceramic Coating for more information.
Downside #3: Limited Protection
For years Ceramic Coating was marketed as this “bullet-proof” type solution. You saw hoods get set on fire, shopping cars thrown at cars and much more demonstrated to show the “strength” of Ceramic Coating. Putting it lightly – this was all crap. The manufacturers have since pulled all the ads that demonstrated this amazing feat of strength. It took years of frustration and push-back from the professional ceramic coating installers for them to make this move. A very quick breakdown of what Ceramic Coating can and cannot do follows:
Ceramic Coating CAN:
- Prevent Rust
- Make Cleaning Easier
- Reduce Micro-marring
- Prevent UV Damage
- Aid in removing paint transfer
Ceramic Coating CANNOT:
- Prevent Dents
- Stop Rock Chips
- Stop Car Wash Damage
- Prevent Deeper Scratches
The fault of the misrepresentation of what ceramic coating is designed for originates at the manufacturer level, BUT it is still perpetuated by many local shops. Ask any potential professional ceramic coating installer if Ceramic Coating will stop scratches; if their answer is anything but no, run away. (Many shops like to use the term “sacrificial layer” – don’t get me started on what a garbage sales tactic this is for ceramic coating.)
Downside #4: Vulnerability to Improper Maintenance
While ceramic coating can make the vehicle’s surface easier to clean, it is not maintenance-free. Ceramic Coatings tend to push the vehicle’s owner in one of two directions: No Maintenance or thinking it can handle all types of maintenance.
The first school of thought looks like: Once the Ceramic Coating is applied they park under sap filled trees in spring, by sprinklers and crush bugs every fall. They never bother to wash the vehicle and allow these contaminants to dwell and bake in. While this isn’t technically wrong as all of this could be fixed with a polish – it definitely is not advised. To get the most out of your Ceramic Coating Kings Valet still recommends proper care. As always – we have a blog post waiting for you: How to Clean Your Ceramic Coating
The second school of thought has its fallacies as well. If the vehicle is washed improperly using aggressive methods (Automatic Brush-Based Washes) the coating can be damaged or degraded. I know that avoiding a car wash like Drive-n-Shine can be difficult. It’s a fast and easy solution (instant gratification). I have learned through personal experience that delayed gratification has much larger rewards. As mentioned above – Ceramic Coating will NOT stop the damage you see pictured below. This is not unique – this is an example of the STANDARD damage caused by these types of washes.
Why Ceramic Coating is Still a Great Solution
While Ceramic Coating does have it’s shortcomings; the majority of the problems with Ceramic Coatings are rooted in misinformation. Ceramic Coating is a WONDERFUL option if you want to keep your new car or truck looking better than the day you bought it off the showroom floor.
Yes, better. Kings Valet takes care to remove many beauty marks that the dealer / manufacturer put into your new vehicle. Once paint corrected; then comes the protection. Ceramic Coating makes clean up a breeze, is extremely high gloss and a great protection to cost ratio. Protection to cost ratio? Paint protection film is very expensive (around 10K for a full vehicle), but offers a very high level of protection. Wax is dirt cheap, but offers virtually no protection. Ceramic Coating tends to be a very happy medium for those who care about their vehicles as the investment is only about 3% of the average cost of a new car.
Why Kings Valet for Your Next Ceramic Coating?
As mentioned all over our website – we offer an experience like no other. Beyond the Peace of Mind Guarantee; our business is based on philanthropic ideals. Kings Valet donates 10% of EVERY dollar in sales to local causes. These charities include: Center for the Homeless, Cultivate Food Rescue and A Healing Hope (among others).
Kings Valet’s Mission Statement is: Instilling confidence – one coating at a time. This is a two prong mission. First “prong” is likely obvious; your coating makes you feel more confident in the longevity of that showroom new look lasting for years. The other “prong” being our donations allow those who are homeless, children who are neglected / lost or those born with incurable diseases to get the help they need to land on their feet as best as possible. This allows a restoration of confidence to them through our work on your vehicle.
In Conclusion: Should Pitfalls Stop You?
The downfalls of Ceramic Coating tend to be from outdated ads and false information. Even the “high-cost” associated is very short sighted. Ceramic Coating has many assets, but bullet-proof protection is not one of them. Have a question that I didn’t cover? I would love to hear from you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org– send our shop a text at 574.777.0033 or call Kings Valet at 574.347.4445. I hope you found this information useful and that it will possibly change your search habits.