Assessing The Miracle Of Auto Body Protection: What Is Ceramic Coating, And Is It Worth It?
The term “ceramic coating” was coined 15 years ago. At its conception, this highly sophisticated nanotechnology was employed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for its contaminant-resistant and self-cleaning properties. It gave vehicles and shuttles a sheen that not only looked great, but it doubled as a protective layer against the elements as well.
In the last decade however, ceramic coating has been emerging as a wildly popular and highly marketed protective coating for everyday vehicles. Now you’ll find it being used or sold at nearly every faucet for the automotive industry, from part stores to repair shops.
So, what exactly is ceramic coating, and why is it popping up all over the place as some cure-all for auto body protection? And since it’s so pricey relative to traditional means, this raises the real question: is it worth it?
In short, yes, it is. Those well-versed in the methods of auto body protection may be aware that ceramic coating is being presented as an alternative to sealants and wax bars. And even if not, you may have seen the commercials and advertisements where one half of a car is caked in mud and filth while all that nonsense simply rolls off on the opposite side. The commercials aren’t all too far from the truth.
Ceramic coating essentially makes the surface of your exterior air-tight, protecting both paint and body plates from contaminants, environmental exposure, and any element that might have water in its chemical makeup like mud, grease, and even tough stuff such as house paint. Any substance that isn’t negated by the hydro-phobic surface needs only a quick wash with the hose before the vehicle is back to good-as-new. Otherwise, such elements can cause color to fade, rust to build up on the metal beneath the factory paint, and any number of issues that can easily turn into a much larger ordeal.
What’s more, the protection offered by ceramic coating can last for years or even decades if properly maintained. As such, all that money spent on the product and its application goes a long way towards saving on maintenance and repairs in the long run. And to make ceramic coating even more appealing, its versatility makes it usable for glass and wheel protection as well.
Sounds like the one-time cure-all that marketing’s made it out to be, doesn’t it? However, the question of whether it’s worth the cost can’t truly be understood until you look at the limitations of ceramic coating.
For one, it’s not as impregnable against chips and scratches as the ads would imply. Rather it should be thought of like any kind of armor: it buys time for the important bits, but it deteriorates over time and is far from invincible. And even though it’s displayed as all-purpose, it really does the most for vehicles that are relatively new, undamaged, and unaccustomed to taking a beating. For those that do see a lot of road time before-hand or simply aren’t worth the expense, wax or sealants are still advised.