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  1. #1
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    The case against multi-year ceramic paint coatings - Road Grime = Surface Staining Daily Drivers by Mike Phillips

    The case against multi-year ceramic paint coatings - Road Grime = Surface Staining Daily Drivers by Mike Phillips


    Years and years ago, around 1997 near as I can remember, I wrote an article called,

    The Lesson White Paint Teaches Us


    The nutshell version of the story is that IF your car is a daily driver then the paint gets a build-up or a layer of impacted road grime that physically and mechanically stains the paint.


    Fast forward 21 years to day's present date, June 28th, 2018 and from what I've seen with my eyes, what I wrote back then is just as accurate today as when I wrote it.


    Multi-year Ceramic Paint Coatings

    Now the latest rage in car care are all these high-performance long lasting ceramic paint coatings that have the ability to bond to the paint so strongly that they can last for years and years without wearing off. That's great. It means the protection is there as long as the coating is there and that can be, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, years and some companies claim even longer.

    The issue however is that these coatings are not invisible force fields and it is my experience, that if a coated car is a daily driver and driven in rainy weather, then the car, (and everything on the car including the coating on the paint), will get a build-up or a physical film of road grime that has bonded and even impacted onto the surface to the point that it will not wash off or wipe off.

    I've seen this on one of my own cars that I keep coated.


    That said, I know it can be hard for some people to wrap their mind around what I'm saying. So below are some pictures taken at the New Jersey Roadshow Detailing Class where after doing a Test Spot on a WHITE 2010 BMW M1, the before and after results make my case for me. That is paint or the exterior of the car, gets a dirt stain film on it when exposed to road grime over time.

    The below pictures were sent to me by David Emmel that attended both days of this class.


    Here's the BEFORE shot of the BMW




    Here's the AFTER shot of the BMW - notice how bright and vibrant the white paint has become after machine compounding, polishing, which in effect REMOVED THE dirt staining off the paint.





    IN the below pictures, I've cropped out just the car from the above shots as this makes it easier to see how the car has literally changed colors after machine compounding and polishing.


    Before followed by After






    And here's a shot showing the before and after section of paint where I placed the painter's tape when doing the Test Spot.

    David is standing on the passenger side of the car shooting down on the hood, myself, Joe and a few others are in the reflection from where we're standing on the driver's side of the fender.

    You can clearly see a line separating the before which is to the right and the after which is to the left




    My premise is that whether you use a carnauba wax, a synthetic paint sealant or a ceramic paint coating, over time, when exposed to the world in which we live in the exterior of you car gets a film build-up that impacts onto the exterior surface, not just paint but also glass, plastic, chrome, convertible top material, etc.

    In the case of a ceramic paint coating, if the car is washed often and washed carefully I believe the coated paint will stay cleaner longer and resist the build-up of a film of road grime, but with enough time the dirt film will build up.

    Thus while the protection may be there... the beauty aspect of the paint will be diminished, it will get a grayish or brownish tint over it from the build-up of the road grime film. You can clearly see this on white paint but if it it's happening on white paint it's happening on ALL COLORS of paint it's just harder to see with the human eyes. And this was the final conclusion of what I wrote in my article, The lesson white paint teaches us" 21 years ago.


    What's the answer?

    If your car IS a daily driver and you drive in rain at some point throughout the year, then if you're not concerned about the vibrancy and true color of your car's paint shining through, then you don't need to do anything, just keep on driving as the protection is probably still there under the film or road grime.


    If you want your car and specifically your car's paint to always look it's best, then at least once a year, maybe twice a year, re-polish the paint and the re-seal the paint using your favorite choice of paint protection,

    1. Carnauba Car Wax
    2. Synthetic Paint Sealant
    3. Ceramic Paint Coating




    I'm sure some will choose not to believe the paint on their car is getting a build-up of road grime as an impacted film and that's their choice, but I know what I know from being in this industry for all of my life now. Besides experience, myself and 20 other people witnessed the paint on this BMW physically change colors after the road film was machine compounded off the paint.



    Mike Phillips
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  3. #2
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: The case against multi-year ceramic paint coatings - Road Grime = Surface Staining Daily Drivers by Mike Phillips

    Continued....


    Here's John Lee's pictures

    From this angle, John is standing on the passenger side, across from me and you can see the two different colored hues of paint, one has a dirt stain on it and the other is where I did the Test Spot and now the paint surface is clean.






    Here's I've taken the above picture and turned it to the right and then cropped out a section showing before and after as though you were standing at the front of the car looking down on the hood.




    Here's I've simply placed a rectangular box around the line...





    Here's me with my eyes closed, ha ha standing at the driver's side of the hood explaining to everyone what's taking place at the surface level after doing the test spot.




    Here's the class in action, using the RUPES paint polishing system.




    Here's the BMW after

    1. Waterless wash
    2. Claying
    3. Compounding
    4. Polishing
    5. Chemically stripping
    6. BLACKFIRE Ceramic Paint Coating






    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
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    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: The case against multi-year ceramic paint coatings - Road Grime = Surface Staining Daily Drivers by Mike Phillips

    Continued....


    And here's two articles I've written on this topic in the past....


    This first one shows you where road grime comes from...

    Road Film - If you drive your car in the rain your car has road film






    This second one has pictures showing more examples of the dirt film that impacts onto your car's paint.

    Here's why you need to polish paint...





    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
    IDA Board Member - Certified Detailer - Skills Validated Detailer - IDA Recognized Trainer
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    Senior Member LSNAutoDetailing's Avatar
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    Re: The case against multi-year ceramic paint coatings - Road Grime = Surface Staining Daily Drivers by Mike Phillips

    Excellent article Mike! This is exactly what I explain to customers when asked about these 5, 7, 10 year warranties on coatings. I typically ask, those are fine... Will you be storing the vehicle and only be taking it to concourse events? They ask, what do you mean?

    I then have to explain, the that while the protection is awesome, it's unlikely that you will never have to re polish and apply again. Shopping carts, door dings, scratches (caused by human error or accidentally). Regardless, but over the course of a year or two it's hard to expect that sections of the vehicle will not get redone.

    I can't tell you how many times I've spot buffed even my own garage queen because it got marred or other reasons. My wife's car has a mish-mosh of CQ classic, CQ UK and EXO because sections have had to be re polished. It's been tagged in parking lots, door dings (which after removal needs to be polished) water spots etc...

    Lastly, these days, most people don't keep a daily drivers beyond 3 to 5 years. They need the next new model with all the technology.


    Also known as Paul G


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    Senior Member BudgetPlan1's Avatar
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    Re: The case against multi-year ceramic paint coatings - Road Grime = Surface Staining Daily Drivers by Mike Phillips

    IMO, the whole 'time-based' longevity is absurd, given the widely varying vehicle usage patterns and climate.

    To wit:

    We have 3 cars with considerably different usage patterns; all protected with same set of coating products w/ the same maintenance routines. The longevity claims for these products are 24-36 months.

    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.

    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.

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

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

    All are in NE Ohio.

    Same protection, same maintenance habits, 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 problem entirely.

    Point being, no claims listed on a box can even begin to adequately predict longevity; I'd guess it's a rather generous estimate based on somewhat ideal conditions. Throw in the scratches, marring and other things a harsh world can throw at a vehicle of a somewhat OCD-ish person and the game shortens even more. While I love coatings for their positive attributes, I'm well aware of their shortcomings in other areas. As long as the positives outweigh the negatives, I'll stick with them but someday there may be a tipping point where another approach is necessary to keep me happy.

    It's the ultimate YMMV scenario.

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    Senior Member Desertnate's Avatar
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    Re: The case against multi-year ceramic paint coatings - Road Grime = Surface Staining Daily Drivers by Mike Phillips

    Great discussion topic, Mike.

    Currently, all of my family daily vehicles are coated with the original McKee's. Two of them are in the 18~24 month range and despite the protection still being evident and the vehicles looking pretty good, I have started to notice that even after a good washing, the finish doesn't pop like it once did. Under a good light source I'm not seeing much in the way of swirls or marring, so I can only assume it's embedded grime as shown here. They are all dark colors, so the staining is not noticable.

    My original intentions were never to go past 18 months and based on what is shown here and my own observations here, I might readjust that thinking to keep the span between polishing and application to around 12~18 months as life permits. This however, leads me to a philisophical dilema.

    I love coatings. I'm a huge fan of the products and really enjoy the benifits they offer, but I'm not impressed with their price. Some of the prices I could rationalize by knowing I wouldn't have to re-apply them for at least two years. However, when that timeframe is compressed to 1~1.5 years, this makes them harder to justify. Coatings like McKee's and CQuartz aren't too bad, but many of the favorites like the Gyeon coatings are starting to look more out of reach. This factor alone will keep me either in the world of the lower priced coatings like CQuarts or McKee's or push me to the "super sealant" products like CanCoat. Those "super sealants" are less expensive and if properly maintained, will go nearly a year. What they loose in durability is compensated by ease of use.

    I'll be testing the CanCoat experience next weekend. It should be interesting.
    Drop by to see the latest at The Car Geek Blog

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  13. #7
    Senior Member LSNAutoDetailing's Avatar
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    Re: The case against multi-year ceramic paint coatings - Road Grime = Surface Staining Daily Drivers by Mike Phillips

    Quote Originally Posted by BudgetPlan1 View Post
    IMO, the whole 'time-based' longevity is absurd, given the widely varying vehicle usage patterns and climate.


    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.


    It's the ultimate YMMV scenario.
    Absolutely, we have monsoons that bring a drenching of water/sand/mineral (copper, etc..). Sand storms, and those crazy Sand Vortex things... I almost drove through one yesterday... It was probably about 50 ft wide and collected every piece of dead brush, whipped into a frenzy. The heat and UV rays will eat the cc off a vehicle, and will destroy interiors.

    This is why I use coatings... the UV protection, and the quick maintenance. I can wash and blow dry... Today it's going to 111 degrees. A wash is quick and blow dry... I use a combo of the sun as a drying aid, and the high hydrophobic qualities of the coating to blow dry.

    p.s. I like your Avatar photo - My retired racing greyhounds (Jax & Khaki) would LOVE to chase, errr... I mean, meet you!


    Also known as Paul G


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    Member minirips2's Avatar
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    Re: The case against multi-year ceramic paint coatings - Road Grime = Surface Staining Daily Drivers by Mike Phillips

    Nice article, Mike! FWIW, and not trying to nitpick, that BMW is a 1M. BMW originally created the M Division in the late '70's. Their first offering was the M1, a supercar by the standards of the day. The M1 is the sacred cow of the M Division. When some rogue M engineers had a little too much Warsteiner and grabbed a bunch of M3 suspension goodies and put them into the already good 135i, they found that they had created a truly hilarious vehicle. For one year only, in 2011, they produced the 1M. They probably should have called it the M1, but didn't want to anger the cow. Unmolested examples are highly collectible. Shoot, any 1M is collectible.
    I totally agree with you that white paint is odd stuff. Grime shows up, and it easily shows stains from rail/brake dust. One big advantage up here in the salt belt is that salt stains are hardly noticeable. White paint can be swirled out to the max, and you have too look closely in good sun, or have a swirl finder light to even notice. It's a good color for people who chose not to pamper their paint.

  16. #9
    Senior Member Belo's Avatar
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    Re: The case against multi-year ceramic paint coatings - Road Grime = Surface Staining Daily Drivers by Mike Phillips

    ceramic coating is intriguing to me. But not enough to take the dip yet with all that's required to do it right, and here's just my personal reason why:

    Once a year I do a 2 step. polish and seal. It takes me a good part of a day, but it's therapeutic in a way. I'm only working on my car and under no time or money pressure. Also my car is only a spring-fall car so it's usually in decent shape. If there comes a day that a ceramic really does last several years and maintains its original gloss and hydro abilities with just an occasional spray extender or something then I might be down. Otherwise I just don't feel I need it.

    And I'll stress again that this is just my opinion for my situation. I can totally see why those who maintain fleets or just want a minivan's paint to be protected a little longer and better without the need for the shine would go ceramic.
    2009 Pontiac G8GT
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    Re: The case against multi-year ceramic paint coatings - Road Grime = Surface Staining Daily Drivers by Mike Phillips

    Great article! It's helpful to see reminders to have realistic expectations from coatings since so many boast years of durability and other claims. Did the paint with road grime feel smooth? Like you mentioned I imagine proper washing and maybe chemical decon can mitigate this build up a bit.

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