You have finally coated your car with Ceramic Coating it looks shiny, it looks perfect, it is protected for the next 2-5 years depending on what product you have used and everything is nice and everyone is happy.
So, do you have to wash your car ever again?
Is your car bulletproof now?
Will it be able to travel through time?
All these questions and more will be answered in this article!
The purpose of Ceramic Coating is to prolong the life of your car's paintwork and the life and quality of the materials coated since some Ceramic Coatings are designed to be applied to any surface or material on a car. Ceramic Coatings will create a hard, slick, hydrophobic surface that will help you deal with everyday problems that your car will suffer from - water, water spots, dirt accumulation, light scratches, and swirl marks, protect the paint once it has been polished to perfection and to preserve it as it was at that point for the lifetime of the coating of your choosing.
The main focus is on the word 'help', meaning you still will have to wash your car occasionally, even though it will get dirty much less and much harder while being much easier to wash. But if you do not wash it, grime and dirt, or even acid in tree pollen or bird droppings or squashed bugs, will eventually eat through the coating if left on the paint untreated.
So it is very important to wash your car at regular intervals. We suggest once every 2 weeks, or at least once per month. If it is winter and you live in an area with lots of snow, you can expect lots of salt on the road. And that salt, while driving will find its way to stick to the body and paint of the vehicle. During those times we recommend you wash the car as often as possible since salt is much more acidic than the hazards mentioned above.
Now the most important thing to consider from the get-go is that you shouldn't wash the car for the first week until the coating has fully cured. The best even is to leave it in the garage if there might be rain.
Learn more about ceramic coating curing times here.
Also, it is important to not go for any heavy driving or highway driving perhaps. The reason for that is that all the properties the Ceramic Coating gives in form of protection are not fully utilized until the coating has cured. The cure time for Ceramic Coatings varies from product to product, but they all usually revolve around the 1-week mark. It is safe to drive the vehicle after the initial 24 hours from when the coating has been applied, but it is important to keep in mind the above.
Once the curing process has been completed successfully you are good to go. You can wash the car at regular intervals, as we've discussed earlier. Now the questions you might be asking yourself could be 'Should I have my Ceramic Coated car washed only by a professional or could I do it myself?, or 'If I am washing the Ceramic Coated car myself, what technique or products should I be using to do the wash successfully?'.
Well, if you have the option and it won't hurt the bank, we suggest that you get the car washed by a professional that has a proven record. Do invest some research in all the local places where you could have your car washed.
Look for reviews of other customers, perhaps call and check what type of products they are using ( you will have a better idea of what questions to ask once you have read this article in full ), or even ask friends or relatives that live in your vicinity for their experiences. It is important to know where you are leaving your car because let's be honest - you won't know what products or techniques have been used for the washing process - so trust is key.
What products should I be using when washing a Ceramic Coated car?
snow foam canon / gun
pH neutral car shampoo
microfiber towels ( have a few )
microfiber glove / mitt ( one is enough )
2 buckets + 1 grit guard ( for the two bucket technique )
water absorbing microfiber towels ( to collect water / dry car )
brake dust remover
scratch-proof wheel brush
Not everyone can afford to buy all this, or perhaps your living conditions wouldn't allow some of these products. For instance, you might be living in an apartment complex with no garage. You won't be able to utilize a pressure washer or a snow cannon or gun in that case. So first of all you need to see where you can wash your vehicle. And then check to see what type of products you will be able to use.
When cleaning the wheels of a car we suggest doing that before cleaning the rest of the car or after, not at the same time. Because all the particles that might be stuck on the wheels might be transferred onto your washing mitt via the bucket or by accident resulting in possible scratching.
You can check this article if you are debating whether to install a ceramic coating on the wheels of your car.
If you are using a microfiber mitten glove on rims as well then we suggest you have 2, ideally in different colors so you know which one to use for which job. If you aren't able to get the full cavalry of tools and products to clean your car for whatever reason then we suggest getting this at least:
2 buckets ( +1 grit guard )
microfiber washing glove
3-5 microfiber towels
1 water-absorbing microfiber heavy towel
pH neutral automotive shampoo
scratch-proof wheel brush ( for the wheels )
These shouldn't cost you much and they will get the job done. Perhaps a little bit slower and perhaps a little bit less effective but, will get the job done nonetheless.
What is the Two-Bucket Washing technique?
One of the best ways to clean your car safely and properly while not spending much on it. The idea is to fill two buckets with water and put a grit guard in one of them. Inside the other, you want some pH-neutral car shampoo. As you wash your vehicle with the microfiber glove, you want to regularly rinse it off to remove debris and small particles that might be stuck in the mitten using the 'rinsing bucket' and then get some fresh clean water shampoo to continue the process.
This way you won't risk scratching the paint by having your washing mitt turn into sandpaper. It is an easy to master technique that any car enthusiast should have mastered under their belt.
Why should I use pH-neutral Car Shampoo?
While pH neutral Automotive Shampoos will be more expensive than the regular alkaline or acidic ones, they will help break up all the grit, dirt, and grease off the vehicle while not damaging the clear coat. Remember that the Clear Coat is a protective layer that sits on top of the paintwork of your car. It is still prone to decay and damage. Those more expensive Car Shampoos will not 'eat' or damage the protective layer of the car. This way you can ensure to get the maximum duration of the Clear Coats lifetime and effectiveness.
If you want to learn more about why you should use pH Neutral Car Shampoos then click here.
Why do I need to dry the vehicle, isn't it hydrophobic?
Yes, if it is Ceramic Coated then it most likely is hydrophobic, but that doesn't mean that water cannot touch it. It only means that water tries to escape the surface as soon as it can because there is little to no attraction between the coating and water. That only means that water beading will be introduced unless you have a very high-quality Ceramic Coating that sheets more than it beads.
All those water beads that are trapped on the car, if they are not removed before they evaporate, will leave all the minerals that have been trapped in the water leaving nasty water spots that can be a headache to remove. If you are using distilled water, then you won't encounter these problems, but when washing cars you are usually working with non-distilled water.
You could also drive your car for a bit. The wind resistance and gravity will make sure the water droplets slip off the surface. Or you can use an air compressor, a leaf blower, or even a hair drier. That way you are definitely doing the best non-touch approach for maximum protection, and with an air compressor, you can actually be done quicker than with a towel if you know what you are doing. An air compressor also allows you to get the water stuck in between panels which might be more difficult to remove with other methods.
Why do I have to be careful when removing dust from my car?
Well, think of dust as very small rocks. So the same type of damage rocks might do to your paint, dust will as well, just on a much smaller scale. Over time though, it might add up. So the best way to remove any type of dirt is using lubrication - water and car shampoo.
Final thoughts on Ceramic Coating Maintenance
It is always important to keep your car clean. A Ceramic Coated car will get dirty less often and will be more easily washed as well. If you are using the correct techniques to wash your car and care for it, then the Ceramic Coating will have a much longer protection duration than it would if you did none of these things. That only means that by maintaining the appearance of your car while coated you are saving money long-term in which you do not have to repolish and recoat the car in the near future.
If the Ceramic Coating you have used on your car came with a 'Maintenance Solution Product' then it is recommended you use it on your vehicle after every wash. Those products are there to prologue the lifetime of the Ceramic Coating and refresh the coating to new and ensure there is no drop in its performance.