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Maintaining Your Paint Coating


In my article “The Benefits of a Paint Coating”, I discussed several advantages of popular paint coating products.  One of the key benefits highlighted in that article is the noticeable difference in ease of maintenance.

Many people have the incorrect impression that paint coatings are a “no maintenance required” type of product.  This is simply not true.  Proper maintenance is still required to take full advantage of your coating.  Basic routine maintenance will help to keep your coating looking and performing its best and will help you get the maximum life out of your coating.

Maintenance Washing

Routine washing is crucial.  I recommend my customers maintain a wash routine that consists of a proper hand wash at least every two weeks.  As your coating becomes covered with dirt and contamination, you will notice a decrease in hydrophobic properties (i.e. beading & sheeting).  It is important to remove these surface contaminates often.

Using a specially formulated shampoo like the CarPro Reset will help to effectively clean your coating and it rinses away easily without leaving behind gloss enhancers or other surfactants.  This is an ideal coating maintenance shampoo, however there are other options that will be just fine as well.

You will notice that your vehicle will be very easy to wash because the dirt will wipe away easily from the coating, and your wash mitt will slide effortlessly across the surface.  Likewise, drying is also much easier because the majority of the water can be easily sheeted from the surface.  I recommend using the Master Blaster to quickly blow the remaining water from the surface.

ATD | Reset

Photo: CarPro Reset – ready for the two bucket wash method!

Water Spots & Decontamination

Water spots are always a potential hazard.  Hard water spots are a common occurrence if water is allowed to dry on the vehicle’s surface and is not washed shortly afterwards.  Sometimes the mineral deposits can become so tough that even a thorough washing will not remove them.  These water spots are often removed with a light polishing process, however this is not a good remedy for a coated vehicle because you may risk removing the paint coating.  Luckily CarPro created Spotless Water Spot & Mineral Remover for this exact situation.  This product quickly and easily eliminates hard water spots from your vehicle without the potential risk of harming your coating.

Coatings resist bonded contamination better than most traditional forms of protection, however they will still become contaminated over time.  Luckily, this contamination is typically easy to remove with a product like CarPro’s TarX and IronX.  In most cases these products will remove the majority of bonded contaminates from the surface of your coating, but it is possible that your vehicle may also require light claying to remove other contaminates.  I typically recommend a quick decontamination at least once each year.

ATD | Coating maintenance

Photo: CarPro IronX reacting with bonded iron contaminates and safely dissolving them.

Additional Protection

Many people are interested in applying additional protection on top of the coating.  It is important to remember that when you are topping your coating with another product, you are covering or masking some of the properties of the coating.  For example, if you apply a wax on top of your coating, you will be observing the properties of the wax until it wears off and the coating is exposed.  If you choose to top your coating, you will still have a great base layer of protection beneath your “topper” since the coating will still be present, but the beading, sheeting, dirt/dust attraction, and other properties that you observe will be characteristic of whatever product you have used to top the coating.

While a typical spray wax may work fine, there are other products that tend to perform much better on top of paint coatings.  My personal favorites are CarPro HydrO2 and CarPro Reload.  These two products are silica based, just like CQuartz and 22ple coatings, therefore they are excellent “coating toppers” because their properties are very similar to the coating that is beneath them.  When used on top of your coating, HydrO2 and Reload will provide additional protection, slickness, amazing hydrophobic properties, and best of all – they are extremely quick and easy to use!  If you decide to top your coating, these products can be used as often as you’d like, but I typically suggest using one or the other every 2-4 months.

ATD | Coating Maintenance

Photo: CarPro Reload being applied to added protection on top of the CQuartz UK paint coating

If you follow these basic steps for coating maintenance, you will be certain to achieve excellent durability and performance from your paint coating!

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Zach McGovern
Zach McGovern
Attention To Detailing Peoria
Peoria, IL

22 comments on Maintaining Your Paint Coating

  1. JP says:

    After you wash the car with reset and dry it. After the car is dry and realized you have some water spots. What product you recommend and have tried to remove the water spot (like quick detail) on coating ??

    • Jean-Claude Corcoran Jean-Claude says:

      Carpro makes a product called Spotless. It is absolutely stunning for removing water spots.

    • For small water spots that occur immediately after washing, you can simply use a CarPro Reload to wipe them away… or if you don’t prefer to add anything on top of your coating, CarPro Eraser can even be used for wiping away those spots.

      If the spots have set for a while, you may need to utilize CarPro Spotless to remove stubborn spots as I mentioned in the article.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Jean-Claude Corcoran Jean-Claude says:

    Excellent article Zach. Quality content right here.

  3. Roger Prescott says:

    Thanks Zach What could i use with Opti-coat 2.0? Opti-coat 2.0 dose not have the water beading of some of the other paint coatings.

    • I love using CarPro Reload on top of Opti-Coat. Opti-Coat is lacking in terms of surface slickness, as it is naturally a bit ‘tacky’ feeling which I do not prefer. Reload leaves an awesomely slick surface that is incredibly hydrophobic. It works great on coatings or on bare paint!

  4. Great article, Zach!

    I’ll have to remember to refer my clients with coated cars to this article in the future! 🙂


  5. ClayR says:

    From everything I have read and worked with the use of Iron-X, Tar-X or any high alkaline chemicals (term used on most manufacturer’s warnings) will remove most coatings. The only exception that I know of is Opti-Coat. You can still lightly clay the car to remove rail dust.

    • Hi Clay,

      While it is true that IronX and TarX may degrade or completely remove traditional protection (ie sealant or wax), they will be fine for maintaining your paint coating.

      Here is a quote directly from CarPro:
      “Question: Will Iron X remove wax from car paint?

      Answer: Yes, if it’s a highly organic oil type it will affect the wax properties. If it’s a synthetic polymer sealant it won’t affect it much. On Cquartz or other inorganic coatings it won’t affect them at all. In fact it is even recommended for use on them.”

      Thanks for reading!

      • Clay says:

        Hello Zach,

        Thank you for replying. I agree that high alkaline chemicals like IronX and TarX will remove traditional waxes and sealants. However there is still the sticky problem that on most silica/glass coating retailer’s websites (if you can find one) still say avoid as it will remove or harm the coating. Here is the warning from Carprousa’s website at the bottom of the CQuartz page under Precautions: “Never allow highly alkaline (ph11+) chemicals such as non-diluted all purpose cleaners to sit or dwell on the surface for extended periods. This may damage the coating.”

        Or on Gtechniq’s website’s blog: “Will Iron-X or other degreasers remove or damage Gtechniq coatings? Yes, it could damage the coating, as will all high alkaline chemicals.”

        From what I’ve found Carpro does not recommend using IronX but instead recommend using “IronX Soap” which is much, much more diluted.

        Have you had success using either IronX or TarX on a car with-out damage to the coating?

        • Clay, I have never used any GTechniq coating, so I cannot speak for them… but I have CarPro coatings on my own vehicles and use Iron X to maintain them with no issues. IronX is a pH balanced product (~pH 6-7), and is actually recommended for general maintenance on their coatings as I referenced in my previous reply.

          TarX is not pH neutral and should only be used as needed if road tar is a problem. I just confirmed with a CarPro rep, and it can interfere with hydrophobic properties if “used excessively”. If TarX is needed, it is recommended to spray the product on a towel, and wipe the effected area with the dampened towel, then immediately rinse the area.

          Again, thanks for the comments!

  6. ClayR says:

    Examples of warnings against using high alkaline products like Iron-X and Tar-X:

    • Clay, thanks again for the comments. As I have already explained… IronX is not an alkaline. IronX is pH balanced (pH between 6-7… similar rating as pure water) per CarPro’s description. The warnings on the CarPro site are for products with a pH higher than 11. Again, as I have already stated, CarPro does indicate that TarX may interfere with the hydrphobic properties of their coatings if it is used excessively, therefore this product should only be used on an as needed basis, and in the manner that I described above.

      As far as other coating manufacturers, it is best to follow their recommendations for maintenance, but even the GTechniq site that you have copied does not specifically call out IronX as being harmful. The answer to the question involving IronX specifically states that ‘high alkaline products’ are the real threat, which would not include IronX as it is not an alkaline, or basic, product.

      Again, thank you for the information… If you have any other concerns related to IronX or TarX, I would encourage you to contact CarPro directly.

  7. joe wright says:

    Clay, I’ve used Iron-X on Exo V2, and a car that had C1/Exo V2. I did it maybe 3 times over the coarse of 12 months or so depending on how much the car sat out, or was driven. I only used Gtechniq Gwash, and when I used Iron X, it was totally fine, in fact it seemed like the beading was maybe a little better after. I remember reading somewhere it helps open the pores of the coating up(I assume because it removed the contamination). I’ve also used it on 22PLE VX1 Pro, and on 22PLE Rim after Ohio winter…no degradation to the coating. I would assume if you use something like a tar remover, or “purple degreaser”, then yes, it will impact the coating. I’m not a pro, just a DIY guy, and after reading all kinds of reviews and websites, I’ve not had any problem with Iron-X effecting a coating.

  8. James S says:

    How would you recommend removing bugs from the paint coating? Would you still use a light abrasive pad with a specific bug/tar remover? I tried the tar-x with my wash mitt, it removed some of the bugs but not the guts as they were still splatters on the coating after drying.

    • Hi James – but remnants should wipe away easily if they are not left to sit. I typically soak a towel with a rinseless or waterless wash solution and then wipe the front end of my vehicle immediately to avoid bugs from settling into the paint. If you notice what appears to be bug guts still on the paint after a thorough wash you are likely seeing remains that have etched into the paint. Bug splatter is acidic and can cause a fair amount of damage when left to sit, especially in warmer weather. If you have etched marks, you will need to correct these areas with a machine and polish or compound (sometimes even wet sanding).

  9. James S says:

    Then with the etched marks, since I have a coating installed the etching should be contained within the coating or will it eat right through the coating and etch the paint? Also with the etch marks, when I go an polish the areas with etching how essential is it to remove all the previous coating if I am planning on re-coating the area with the same exact coating, 22ple HPC, and are there any signs other than water beading/sheeting if I have removed all previous coating?

    • The coating will contain the etching until the coating is penetrated, then the paint is at risk… as far as I know there is no real way to determine when this transition has taken place without laboratory testing, however the chemical makeup of coatings make them much more resistant to environmental contaminants like water spotting or bird bombs compared to traditional waxes or sealants so your odds are better with a coated car than an uncoated car.

      It is not necessary to ensure you have removed all of the previous layer of coating. There is no risk of applying a new layer directly on top of your existing layer as long as the surface is clean. Again, since the coating is so thin (a couple microns at best) there is no way to ensure it has been removed. Even water beading is a completely false test as bare paint will bead water when it is clean.

      Hope that helps.

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