How many times have you heard, "Hey, I've gotten my car ceramic coated, and I parked my car back at home, not realizing the sprinklers were still on." Well, if you are a detailer, then we presume you've heard this a dozen times. But if you aren't, well, this is something that might happen to you. This or something like this, at least.
What to look out for when you get a ceramic coating freshly installed on your metallic baby?
8 Tips for Ceramic Coating Maintenance Once your Ceramic Coating has Cured
You've done all the hard work, and your car is finally ceramic coated. You'll be able to reap the rewards of your ceramic coating for many years to come once it has properly cured. The hard surface will have a high gloss that will shield the paint from environmental hazards like rain, UV radiation from sunlight, bird droppings, and tree sap.
Due to their amazing hydrophobic properties, ceramic coatings can even prevent rust from forming and thus preventing a headache and saving your hard-earned cash.
That sounds amazing! But how long do you have to wait now until the ceramic coating is fully cured?
What is the Cure Time for Ceramic Car Coatings?
You generally want to keep your car dry and safe from any contamination for at least 24 hours. This is the time a ceramic coating needs for it to become dry and hard enough, so it is not ruined by a simple rain shower. After those 24 hours, it is safe to drive your car out in the open.
Before the ceramic coating is fully cured, we would suggest not driving the car on a highway to avoid bug splatter and not driving the car hard in any offroad conditions. Also, avoid using harsh chemicals and drive-through car washes until the curing process has been completed.
Does that mean that drive-through car washes are safe for ceramic coating? They won't destroy the ceramic coating as some people claim, but they will introduce micro scratches over time, and they should generally be avoided. If you wash your car this way a few times, nothing notable will happen.
However, the coating will continue to cure for a total of 5-7 days. That number is dependent on the coating you are using, the temperature, and the humidity. It is not advised to wash the car before it has fully cured to avoid any possible damage the ceramic coating might sustain.
Does Ceramic Coating Actually Cure in Weeks?
People who want to shield their vehicles' paintwork frequently choose ceramic car coating. The majority of people think that you must wait weeks before being allowed to drive your car safely, but this is not always the case!
While most ceramic coatings have a curing period of about a week, at which point it is safe to wash the car and get it dirty without the risk of damaging the coating itself, there are exceptions.
Ceramic coatings that cure anywhere from 2-3 weeks do exist. Always read the instructions that come with the products you buy, and abide by them for the best possible results.
The mandatory 24-hour period still applies though, so it is safe to drive the vehicle after that.
Do I need IR Curing Lamps for my Ceramic Coating?
IR Lamps or Infrared Lamps are almost always used by professional detailing shops. The reason is that infrared radiation speeds up the curing process of a ceramic coating. They do not enhance the properties or the effectiveness of the ceramic coating in any way. The only thing they are doing is shortening the time it takes for the coating to cure. Instead of days, you can bring that time down to mere hours.
If you are a professional ceramic coating installer, you should consider investing in infrared lamps.
Having a car stay in the garage for at least 24 hours because the ceramic coating needs to cure enough before it can safely go out into the wild hinders you. It doesn't allow you to expand your business to more customers and prevents you from doing any work in the garage without putting the invested labor into jeopardy.
But if you are not a detailing shop that specializes in ceramic coating installments, we suggest that you don't waste your money.
What are your Options While the Ceramic Coating Cures?
We advise you to use your car for as little as possible. Keep it safe whenever you can in a garage. This is particularly crucial during the winter months when ice formation on the surface can harm your coating. Try not to drive farther than is absolutely required if you must use your automobile during these periods. Additionally, when parking, keep it away from other cars and in the shade, and out of the rain.
That are quite the instructions we got there, but to keep it simple, here are some pointers on things to avoid doing while you are waiting for the newly installed ceramic coating to fully cure:
avoid washing your car in general
definitely avoid automatic car washes
don't use highly acidic or highly alkaline car shampoos
avoid using a pressure washer
don't park under a tree
don't drive at highway speeds or faster
don't leave your car near sprinklers
try not to leave your car out in the rain
don't park in areas where there are lots of bird droppings
Sprinklers generally use well water, which is very hard, and if that water is left to evaporate on the coating, it will bake the minerals it has in it onto the coating leaving water spots.
Should you ever encounter them, then read our article on how to deal with water spots and deal with them before they leave any permanent damage to the paintwork of your car.
Some areas n the world also have acidic or heavy rain. The same rules apply. It is best to avoid those situations altogether. But if you do encounter them, we suggest you dry your car as soon as possible.
Tree sap and bird droppings are both acidic and are best removed asap.
Both can be harsh on the coating and the paint of the car if they are left to dry - especially tree sap. If any of the aforementioned come in touch with your coating, lightly lubricate the coated surface with an alcohol-based solution or a dedicated cleaning agent, and then wipe it down with a clean and dry microfiber towel.
If you, for whatever reason, have to wash your car before the coating cures fully, use a touchless washing method, and use only pH-neutral car shampoo.
What Should You Do After The Ceramic Coating Has Cured?
Once finished, you should wash your automobile utilizing the two-bucket approach roughly once a month. Avoid using anything abrasive such as a clay bar or compounding the car, or polishing it, since those will harm the ceramic covering.
If you would like to learn more about ceramic coating maintenance, then see How to maintain ceramic coating on a car.
One of the best choices you can make to enhance the look of your car and safeguard your investment is to protect your car's exterior with a ceramic coating.
A ceramic coating is the best type of paint protection for your car because it outperforms all conventional waxes and sealants in terms of longevity, performance, and look enhancement. And while paint protection film might be superior to ceramic coating in certain areas, it is outshined by ceramic coating in other areas that we feel are ultimately more important.
Read our article where we talk about Car Wax VS Car Sealant VS Ceramic Coating VS Paint Protection Film to see which one comes out on top and why.
However, without proper maintenance, a ceramic or graphene coating may deteriorate much more quickly and lose its beneficial properties sooner.
To ensure the maximum longevity of your ceramic coatings, make sure you keep up with the best-recommended practices when washing your car.
Use our search bar at the top of the webpage to learn more about ceramic coating, how they perform, and how to wash your paint-protected car properly. Or simply browse through our Education section.
How to Wash your Car Properly Once the Ceramic Coating has Fully Cured?
Everyone washes their car in their own magical way and at different rates, but to keep your ceramic coating's deep shine and hydrophobic qualities, it's advised to perform a maintenance wash at least every two to four weeks.
The simplicity of washing a ceramic coated car is one of its many advantages. And yes, you still have to wash a car that has a ceramic coating installed. That is just one of many myths that surrounds this form of paint protection.
If you would like to learn about myths that surround ceramic coatings, then read our article Top 15 myths about ceramic coatings.
Here are 8 Tips for Ceramic Coating Maintenance Once your Ceramic Coating has Cured [not before]:
1. Use the "Two-Bucket Method"
Using a wash mitt and two buckets, one with clean water and the other with soapy water, hand wash using the "Two-Bucket Method". To prevent abrasions from being caused by hard impurities, both buckets should have grit guards on the bottom.
If you only have one grit guard, then place it in the bucket that you're using for the bottom of the car and wheels.
2. Only use ph-neutral car soap
While a ceramic coating can withstand and is highly resistant to any chemical from pH 1 all the way to pH 13, that doesn't mean that they are impervious to damage. The stronger the chemical, the more quickly it will wear out the coating.
To keep it safe and maximize the lifetime of the coating, it is best to stick to pH neutral car shampoos. This way you know that even after years, the coating will be as effective as it was on the 1st day.
You can learn more about why ph-neutral car shampoos are important for your car.
3. Use ceramic coating refresher sprays
Use dedicated ceramic spray sealants that are meant to refresh or renew the coating. You can apply them once every three to four months after the car has been washed and dried. Usually, manufacturers have a refresher spray that comes with a ceramic coating in a kit. They have their own products that are designed to work well with their flagship ceramic coating.
You can use those, but if you aren't able to, then any should be fine.
These ceramic sprays give the ceramic coating extra slickness. This improves their hydrophobic properties even more and thereby helps prevent water spots.
Check out our top 10 ceramic coating sprays!
4. Avoid washing in direct sunlight
Avoid water spots, and avoid washing in direct sunlight. Especially if it is a hot day. Water will evaporate more quickly and there is a chance it evaporates while it is still on the car's surface.
If the water you're using to wash the car is hard, you'll be left with water spots that can be annoying to deal with.
5. Avoid high-volume brush washes
If you don't want to or can't wash the car yourself. Limit yourself to hand washing or touchless car washes. This is the same story as number 2. on this list. Ceramic coatings have a hardness rating of 9H and 10H, depending on the product. While they can resist some scratches, they aren't immune to them. And continuous beatings will wear them out eventually.
Read this article we've written to learn more about whether ceramic coatings are scratch resistant.
6. Use good quality drying microfiber towels
Use quality drying cloths so you don't risk abrasion during drying. Use edgeless, high-pile microfibers. And what we do, as soon as we get new towels, we rip off the label. That is a small trick used to avoid any unwanted scratching on the paint.
Alternate between using one drying towel to soak up the majority of the water and a second to completely dry the automobile.
Don't use too much pressure; let the towel do the work instead.
7. Remove brake dust
Don't forget to deal with break dust on every wash or at least every other wash. The reason this is important is that once you let break dust accumulate on your wheels or even on the car body area near the wheels, it will start pitting the clearcoat, the rest of the paint, and finally, even the surface underneath the paint, therefore permanently damaging it. At that point, no amount of maintenance will be able to solve that issue. If you want to fix it, you'll have to repaint the affected area or even use body fillers to fill in the craters. Ceramic coating helps prevent that issue to some degree, but if you let the brake dust pile up, even a top-quality ceramic coating won't save you.
The metallic impurities in your paint can be drawn out and broken down by applying a pH-Neutral iron remover to the surface of your car. Simply spray it on, and then use pH-neutral soap and the two-bucket approach to give your car a maintenance wash three to four minutes later.
8. Never use a clay bar or perform paint correction on a ceramic coated car
A clay bar must not be used on the coated car. The reason is that they are abrasive, and because of that, clay bars will remove the coating.
The same applies to compounding and polishing. They are liquids that work the same as sandpaper. They are much finer instead. Still, they will damage and even remove the ceramic coating if used.
During the first week after application, while the ceramic coating is curing, if you see an automatic car wash - run!
In fact, do a 180 and start driving in the opposite direction as fast as you can - no one will blame you.