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  1. #1
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    How long will a ceramic coating last on my car?

    How long will a ceramic coating last on my car?








    One of the most common questions asked about any brand of ceramic coating goes like this,


    How long will a ceramic coating last on my car?


    The answer is it depends upon a number of factors but one of the most influential factors after the application is,


    How is the car washed?


    When you see the word washed - think of the word touched. So let's rephrase the question,


    How is the car touched?



    Off the top of my head, I would say the best to worst options are,


    1: Safest option - Take ownership of the car wash process

    So the safest wash is to carefully hand wash the car and this can be done by the owner or a pro detailer. The technique for safely washing a coated car by hand besides using a quality car wash and a source of running water, is reduce the amount of cross contamination that can happen when you only use a single wash mitt for all body panels.


    The easy fix to avoid cross contamination is to simply use lots of wash mitts or as an alternative option, use lots of microfiber towels. This is real simple stuff but like a lot of things in life, until you see it - you cannot believe it, or at least wrap your mind around the idea.

    I recently wrote an article sharing how to carefully wash your car using this technique of using lots of microfiber towels. Wash mitts are not that much more expensive so feel free to follow the technique shared in this article only swap out wash mitts for microfiber towels. See the link below.



    2: Touchless Car Wash

    A touchless wash, that is a car wash that use high pressure water sprayers with high pH alkaline soap and a low pH acid to chemically dissolve dirt and road grime off the car. This is safer than all of the above options in that nothing is physically touching your car's paint but repeated exposure to these types of aggressive chemicals can't be ADDING more coating your car's paint. What's the opposite of the word adding? And while a quality coating will hold up to this type of chemical cleaning action, most traditional carnauba car waxes and synthetic paint sealants will not hold up.



    3: 100% Hand Car Wash

    Hand car washes can invoke the noble and nostalgic IDEA of a safe wash but it's only as safe as the cleanliness of the mitt being used to wash your car as well as the carefulness of the person pushing the wash mitt over your car's paint. Factor in that with time and wear-n-tear most wash mitts become tatty and contaminated and this means swirls and scratches. The only SAFE hand wash is where YOU control both the mitt and the carefulness of how the mitt is being used on your car's paint and with all the commercial 100% hand car washes - you're at the mercy of the owner and their staff. The good news is there ARE hand car washes where the owner is smart and empathetic to his customers and has a clean wash mitt protocol as a part of his car wash business model. The trick is finding this type of hand car wash.

    NOTE: As an option to make this a safer wash - ask the owner if you bring your own wash mitts can his employees use your mitts? If yes, bring your own mitts, get them when they are done, take them home, wash and dry them, store them in a clean place and repeat.




    4: Soft Mop Automatic Car Wash

    Soft Mop car washes are much better but as you can probably figure out, the material the soft mops are made of become contaminated and then these contaminated mops scratch your car's paint. Anytime your car's paint is being scratched it means paint is being removed and along with it, the coating.




    5: Spinning Brush Automatic Car Wash

    If you run the car through a swirl & scratch car wash, that's the spinning brush style of car wash, then the coating is not going to last very long at all because the spinning brushes used for these types of automatic car washes SCRATCH the paint. This means the brushes REMOVE paint and while they are removing paint of course they are removing anything applied to the paint including any brand of ceramic, quartz or polymer coating.




    Switching how a customer washes their car

    Some people can be educated and changed, some can't. Our job is to figure out who is who and then provide the right detailing package. When installing a coating is not an option, I would say that using SONAX Polymer Net Shield is a longer lasting option for the LSP than most car waxes and synthetic paint sealants.

    See my article here,

    SONAX Polymer Net Shield - Closest thing to a coating without being a coating




    How to wash a coated car safely

    Click the link below to see the multiple microfiber towel approach to safely washing a coated car.


    How to safely wash a ceramic coated car by Mike Phillips - Traditional Hose & Bucket Approach





    How to safely wash a ceramic coated car by Mike Phillips - Traditional Hose & Bucket Approach









    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
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  3. #2
    Senior Member BudgetPlan1's Avatar
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    Re: How long will a ceramic coating last on my car?

    From what I've seen out the windshield of our cars in a variety of usage situations over the last 3 years, the definitive answer is:

    "It depends..."

    You'll never know for sure how durability will really turn out until you actually try it in your climate and your situation. Some things can be estimated by finding others experiences in similar conditions and usage but that's still just an educated guess.

    We have 3 cars with considerably different usage patterns; all protected with same set of products/coatings:

    1. Car 1 will likely get to 3 years (if not longer) before needing to be completely redone.
    2. Car 2 will likely never need to be redone.
    3. Car 3 will get to 2 years at the most before needing to be redone.

    1. 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.
    2. Car 2 is daily driver in nice weather, April thru November, usually no-rain days only, always garaged, 5500 miles a year, rarely freeway.
    3. Car 3 is year round daily driver, generally always garaged, 25k miles a year, 95% freeway.

    All are in NE Ohio.

    Same protection, 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 nightmare entirely.

    Point being, no claims listed on a box can even begin to adequately predict longevity. It's the ultimate YMMV scenario.

  4. #3
    Director of Training Mike Phillips's Avatar
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    Re: How long will a ceramic coating last on my car?

    Quote Originally Posted by BudgetPlan1 View Post

    From what I've seen out the windshield of our cars in a variety of usage situations over the last 3 years, the definitive answer is:

    "It depends..."

    Point being, no claims listed on a box can even begin to adequately predict longevity.

    It's the ultimate YMMV scenario.

    Well said.

    To many factors that affect longevity for a blanket claim to hold water or bead water.


    I just wanted to address the one factor that each of us can control - how the car is touched, but certainly there are many other factors that affect longevity.

    For a car enthusiast - then it's not out of the norm to do "something" to the outside of the car at least once a year - so for this group of people longevity is less of an issue.

    But for the masses, those that look at their car as a transportation investment - I know longevity is important because they are less likely to do anything to the outside of the car - at least on a regular basis.


    Just my observations.


    Mike Phillips
    Director of Training Autogeek & Marine 31
    IDA Board Member - Certified Detailer - Skills Validated Detailer - IDA Recognized Trainer
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