So, you just got your dream ride. Congratulations! One of the first things peeps do when they got their new ride is to install car cameras, new mats and of course, install a ceramic coating. You would ask your buddies in car clubs and Telegram/WhatsApp chats and finally choose your favourite detailer.
Your detailer will normally take a day or even 2 to properly prepped, paint correct and finally install the ceramic coating. At this stage, your car would look the very best, even better when she first came out from the showroom. This wet and glossy look is actually not solely achieved by installing a ceramic coating, but by the many hours your detailer spent paint correcting aka polishing the paintwork to perfection before installing the ceramic coating. Ceramic coatings do add an extra depth of gloss and “wetness” to the paintwork; however, the magic comes from the paint correction that removes defects like water spots, scratches, swirl marks that had prevented the paintwork from looking any good. A typical paint correction process would be around 3 hrs for a quick 1 step and even more than 24 hrs for multiple steps. That is why there is a huge difference in ceramic coating services prices, it is due to how much time the detailer spends on the car. Professional grades ceramic coatings are actually not expensive to buy, in fact you are paying for the detailer’s time and experience to perfect the paintwork to their best ability prior to installing a ceramic coating.
Now that you understand about the effort your detailer had put in to deliver a car that you will be proud of, how do you maintain and keep it looking like this for the following months? Some bad news first: A ceramic coated car still requires proper regular washing just like any other paintwork. To maintain that showroom condition, a proper car wash is required. You might think that after ceramic coating, you can wash your car in a regular petrol/service station. You are very wrong! Your ceramic coating might not be affected in a petrol/service station car wash; however, your paintwork will be definitely inflicted with light to medium scratches and ugly swirl marks. In just a simple petrol/service station car wash, you had destroyed the many hours of paint correction your detailer had performed. I’m sure they won’t be too please the next time they see your car. If you want to remove the light to medium scratches and ugly swirl marks that a petrol/service station had gifted you, your detailer will have to start a full paint correction process and install a new ceramic coating. In fact, the best way to maintain a ceramic coated car is to wash her properly yourself!
To start, choose a suitable shampoo for your ceramic coated car. If ever a detailer tells you that there is no need for a shampoo after a ceramic coating installation, stay far far away from them in the future! A proper car shampoo not only contains surfactants that helps to remove oil, grease, dirt easily but also adds lubricity during the wash to prevent and minimise scratches and swirls.
Most consumer car shampoos available in stores are safe to use on ceramic coatings. Sonax Gloss Shampoo, Sonax Xtreme Rich Foam and Profiline Active Foam Shampoo are pH7 and perfectly safe for use on ceramic coatings. Heck, we even have a ceramic specific shampoo, Sonax Xtreme Ceramic Shampoo. Try to avoid shampoos like wash & wax as these tends to inhabits the properties of a ceramic coating after covering the paintwork with a thin blanket of wax. Stay clear from shampoos that contains polishes. These will definitely compromise the ceramic coating. Shampoos that contain polishing abrasives are not commonly found, but make sure you do not use 1 on your ceramic coated car.
Always use a 2-bucket wash method. This is one of the few ways to minimise swirls. The whole idea behind the 2-bucket wash method is isolating the dirt you’ve wiped from the surface of the car as much as possible. This will ensure that every time you wash, you are always using clean shampoo. Before you start, always choose a proper wash mitt or sponge. Sonax Microfibre Wash Glove or Multi-Sponge are both great to use. Try to use a separate wash mitt or sponge for the lower halves of the car where it tends to be dirtier. Fill both buckets with clean water and thereafter, fill 1 with shampoo. The bucket with the shampoo will be your wash bucket and the other with just water will be the rinse bucket. It will be great if you have a grit guard in the rinse bucket as well. A grit guard is a plastic grill designed to sit a few inches from the bottom of the water bucket to trap the grit when you rinse your wash mitt. This ensures that your wash mitt or sponge is always clean every time it touches the car.
Start off by giving the car a good rinse to remove coarse dirt and large contaminants. Dip your clean wash mitt into the wash bucket to pick up fresh shampoo and start to wash the car. After a few passes, your wash mitt should be dirty and ready for a rinse. Dip the wash mitt into the rinse bucket and rub it onto the grit guard to loosen trapped dirt. Next, pick-up fresh shampoo from the wash bucket and start washing again. Repeat the whole process until the whole car is done. At the end of the wash, you will notice that the rinse bucket will be filled with dirty water and the wash bucket will still be clean with shampoo. This essentially means that you are washing the car with clean shampoo all the time, everytime.
Next up drying the car. Have a look at the few drying hacks that you can follow in this video.
Always use a soft clean microfibre drying towel like the Sonax Microfibre Drying Towel XL. You can also choose to use a quick detailer as a drying aid. This helps to minimise swirls and also boost water beading, gloss and slickness at the same time. Sonax Xtreme Ceramic Ultra Slick Detailer is the perfect drying aid. Simply spray onto the drying towel and gently dry the car. Using a separate dry microfiber towel, gently buff off any streaks. You can use Sonax Xtreme Ceramic Ultra Slick Detailer on any exterior surface, including glass and plastic parts as well.
Do you really need to apply products after installing a ceramic coating? It will not be necessary to apply additional products as most ceramic coating will minimally last you for a year. However, it does not hurt to apply the proper products to add in an additional sacrificial layer and boost existing ceramic coatings. Sonax Xtreme Spray + Seal and Sonax Xtreme Ceramic Spray Coating are 2 products that you can choose to use as a 2nd layer and additional protection. Both will add gloss, boost water-beading and slickness to the ceramic coating.
So, in short, to properly maintain a ceramic coating, the best solution is to wash your car yourself using the proper method. This might not be for everyone thus speak to your detailer regarding ceramic coating care. They should be able to offer ceramic coating maintenance solutions as well.