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Auto Detailing Myth: Ceramic Coatings are Invisible Vehicle Force Fields


It is a myth that Ceramic Nano Coatings protect vehicle surfaces from road impacts.

Ceramic Nano Coatings are very popular in today’s car culture and in the auto detailing industry. They provide enhanced protection with a much greater lifespan over all previous forms of surface protection like waxes and sealants. At Signature Detailing in Northern New Jersey, ceramic coatings are a popular and featured service. However, since the climate in the Northeast U.S is seasonally extreme and diverse, we believe in educating clients on the realistic expectations and value which coatings provide to surfaces.

Additionally, we find education about ceramic coatings is necessary because some marketing campaigns and claims have lead consumers to believe ceramic coatings are almost like Star Wars force fields and will protect vehicles from pretty much anything. This is certainly not the case. This article will examine the benefits that ceramic nanocoatings, provide and debunk many false claims.

Ceramic Nano Coating Actual Benefit

Ceramic Coatings are far and away the best and most sophisticated automotive surface protection invented. Here are the common benefits many ceramic coatings provide to vehicles if installed properly:

  • Greatly Increased UV Protection
  • Enhanced Chemical Protection
  • Scratch Resistance to Wash Induced Friction (greatly varies on the coating formulation)
  • Increased Visual Gloss
  • A Self Cleaning Effect (If the surface is regularly maintained and not contaminated)
  • Ease of Maintenance due to Hydrophobic Properties

In context, when listing the above benefits, these pertain to coatings which are engineered to be a more permanent form of protection. That means they are formulated to bond with clear coat, providing long-term surface protection. Additionally, some coating formulations are better at some aspects listed above than others. While some offer greater chemical protection or move UV inhibitors, others offer better water behavior (hydrophobicity) and so on. For specifics on what a specific coating can or cannot do, make sure to consult with a knowledgeable, experienced, and reputable local auto detailer.

What Ceramic Nano Coatings Are NOT

Ceramic Coatings are not a solve-all solution for surfaces. The will not provide a set-it-and-forget-it type of protection as seen by a star wars death star type force field. While some coating companies will go through great lengths to overtly claim extreme protection, it is not a reality.

Ceramic Coatings Do Not:

  • Provide Real Protection against Accidental Scratching or Road Impact Collisions (Rock Chips or door dings)
  • Make a Vehicle Immune to Regular Car Washing
  • Protect a Vehicle from Graffiti, Flame Throwers, or Other Non-Real world Situations

Only Paint Protection Film, also known as clear bra or PPF, can provide surface protection from road debris or rock impacts. This is because the clear urethane is much thicker than coatings and is engineered to absorb the force of impacts. Current coating technology cannot provide this protection.

While coatings may help a vehicle stay cleaner for longer, it does not mean they don’t require regular cleaning. Just like a white shirt or a pillowcase, the less contamination that builds on the surface, the easier it is to obtain optimal cleanliness over time. A coating performs optimally if its surface is not clogged from months of neglected surface contamination. This means that while coatings are much more durable and protective than traditional waxes and sealants, they still need regular maintenance washing.

The benefits of most coatings are listed in a previous section above. While there may be a few that offer other unique benefits such as self-healing capabilities of very light surface marks, this is not typical of most ceramic coatings. Claims of curing graffiti vandalism, displays of fire protection, and other seemingly outlandish circumstances are not valid benefits, instead, they are marketing gimmicks. If marketing tactics look suspicious and have no real technical explanation behind capabilities or claims, then they are most likely suspicious gimmicks.

How to Choose the Best Ceramic Nano Coating for You

In conclusion, ceramic nano coatings are the best form of enhanced protection for painted automotive surfaces to date. They can vary a great deal in terms of their protection aspects and the benefits they provide to automotive finishes. Therefore, it is best to consult a trusted local detailer about the ceramic nano coating that is best for your driving habits and preferences. Ask these professionals about the pros and cons of their coating offerings. The best question might even be to ask them what they use on their own vehicle or their dream car — and why.

Gregory Gellas
Signature Detailing
Hillsborough, NJ 08844
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10 comments on Auto Detailing Myth: Ceramic Coatings are Invisible Vehicle Force Fields

  1. Ron Ayotte says:

    Greg… thank you for this tutorial about ceramic coating benefits and limitations. I have a few people ask me about it after they read the ads for coatings and believe the outlandish hype about what it “can” do.

  2. KF says:

    Coatings are often somewhat mis-understood by the general public, be it the fault of overly, uh…’optimistic’ marketing or just unrealistic expectations. Many of these rather generous claims have to do with hardness, the oft-noted ‘eleventy-billion H’ notations that give a false sense of security.

    Claims of hardness, scratch resistance and such are, IMO, way over-marketed with coatings. While they may provide some minor resistance to light marring, it’s a harsh world out there and many things (jewelry banging paint around door handles, boxes hitting trunk areas while loading, leaning on hood of vehicle with grimy sweatshirts, etc) *will* leave a mark. Problem with coatings is the only way to remedy those marks/marring is to re-polish (removing coating) and re-coating that area, generally an entire panel as many coatings don’t lend themselves well to spot fixes. If you’re horribly OCD-ish about having a totally defect free car for 2 years, a coating may not be the best way to go…or a ‘lighter’ coating like Gyeon CanCoat may be more appropriate.

    As far as longevity/durability claims:

    You’ll never know for sure how durability will really turn out until you actually try it in your climate and your situation. Some things can be estimated by finding others experiences in similar conditions and usage but that’s still just an educated guess.

    We have 3 cars with considerably different usage patterns; all protected with same set of products/coatings, all maintained the same way
    – Car 1 will likely get to 3 years (if not longer) before needing to be completely redone.
    – Car 2 will likely never need to be redone.
    – Car 3 will get to 2 years at the most before needing to be redone.

    1. Car 1 is about 5500 miles a year, no freeway, sits outside from April thru November but only really driven daily November thru April, short trips, no freeway.

    2. Car 2 is daily driver in nice weather, April thru November, usually no-rain days only, always garaged, 5500 miles a year, rarely freeway.

    3. Car 3 is year round daily driver, generally always garaged, 20k miles a year, 95% freeway.

    All are in NE Ohio.

    Same protection, varying usage far different likely outcomes. Freeway use, especially during winter, is very, very hard on a vehicles finish.

    Having seen a lot of faded cars last time I was in Arizona, I’m guessing they have a whole different kind of nightmare to deal with, entire different set of circumstances to cope with. Florida apparently has acid-filled Love Bugs that can etch paint if left for too long…another nightmare entirely.

    Point being, no claims listed on a box can even begin to adequately predict longevity. It’s the ultimate YMMV scenario.

    Coatings can be a great answer, provided you are willing to accept the shortcoming/limitations…but they are certainly not for everyone or every situation.

  3. Ben Beitel says:

    Great Article! There’s a lot of wild marketing claims these days.

  4. rlmccarty2000 says:

    Why do you say coatings have no anti graffiti effects? The coating does provide a barrier from spray paint type graffiti. Unless I’m missing something. Also overspray from paint booths or road work would be easier to remove.

  5. Steve K says:

    Great reminder, Greg. On a truck forum, guys will get in to say that they were told coatings will prevent scratches, including scratches against drive thru car washes. Months later,they’ll be back on complainingof scratches and swirls.
    Some of the claims made, by some installers as from customer accounts, are down right mind blowing!

  6. Rodney Tatum says:

    Great article!

  7. David says:

    Great information regarding ceramic coating misconceptions!

  8. Jason says:

    I’ve always wondered what the big deal was, aside from it being a little more effective, but much more expensive to the consumer. I feel like a good old coat of some Zymol Carbon or Creme Wax would be sufficient – especially in the North East.

    But at the same time, if the customer wants it, you give them what they want 🙂

    Thanks for writing such a transparent article about the hyped up ceramic coating.

    • rlmccarty2000 says:

      While coatings are not “invisible force shields” the do provide your paint much more protection than ANY other available system. A coating does provide a measurable defense against scratches and marring. Instead of polishing out the scratches from your super thin clearcoat (thinner than a Post-it note) you polish off the reappliable nano ceramic coating. With proper care many of these coatings can last years, where waxes and sealants last months. If your vehicle is a garage queen or a show car waxes and sealants work great, but for your daily driver you want a coating to provide maximum protection. It’s good to educate the masses about false advertising that coatings provide more protection than they really do but let’s not forget that a coating is currently the best protection available, and it’s getting better.

  9. That is nice that ceramic nanocoating increases UV protection. Maybe it would be good to get that on my car. Though I would have to get car overspray removal done.

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