Can you explain the difference between sealants, car coatings, paint corrections, and the stuff they try to sell you at the dealership? These are examples of car paint protection for cars. Have you heard of the ceramic coating vs sealant vs wax rivalry that has been going around in the automotive industry since time immemorial? When your car is painted, there’s the primer; then there is the base coat – which is the colour of your car. Then there’s the clear coat, which protects the base coat of your car. It’s important to know that not all cars are ‘clear coated’ and are prone to oxidizing as there is no protective layer. This paint is typically used on commercial vans, trucks, and many white coloured vehicles such as the Toyota Camry, Hilux, Mitsubishi Triton, Ford, Falcon and more.
What everyone is trying to protect is the clear coat of their car. That’s because the clear coat is protecting the base coat and you only have so a thin layer of clear coat to preserve! As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure! So really, the clear coat is protecting your car. Now, thanks to technological innovation, they’ve invented ways to add additional layers of protection to ensure the longevity of the vehicle’s paint.
The Traditional Wax
Carnauba is a really hard wax. The problem with waxes is that they are very heat sensitive. In the wax vs sealant vs coating comparison, carnauba wax is the least durable. They break down quickly when the sun is shining on them. A wax is going to give you a month or two worth of protection. And that’s why this is the most generic form of protection for the clear coat possible.
When you live on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, you know how hot our sun gets – wax is not the smartest form of protection for your car. Yes, the protection side of waxing isn’t that great, but truthfully, we will only wax a car to create the deep wet shiny look – it is perfect for enhancing your painted surface.
The Polymer Synthetic Sealant
The next step up from a wax would be a polymer or synthetic sealant. Think of it in 3 tiers of protection – a sealant would be the second level of protection. It’ll also be a little bit more expensive than a wax, but it’s going to offer you six months to a year worth of protection. A polymer sealant bonds to the paintwork better and it has a higher heat resistance. Sealants will also provide a very smooth finish and more gloss. If you’re wanting to have protection that will last at least a few months, then a paint sealant is for you.
The third and final tier would be a ceramic coating for cars. This gets into the “thing” that the dealership offered you in the finance office for thousands of dollars. They’re telling you, “Hey, you’re never going to have to wax your car because we put on this superior protection on your car.” The problem is… that in and of itself is a true statement. If you have a higher level of protection on your car, you don’t need a lower level of protection as well. When you put a sealant on your car, you don’t need to put a wax on top of your sealant. If you have a ceramic coating applied to your car, you don’t need to put a sealant or a wax on top of the coating.
Of course, you can, but it doesn’t make sense to do it. The big selling point for a ceramic coating, which is the highest level of protection that you can apply to your clear coat, is that it can withstand an extremely high temperature. A superior ceramic coating is also very resistant to acids and chemicals. The coating will help prevent the acidic residue from penetrating through the base coat, acting as a sacrificial top layer to protect your vehicle’s painted surface. The problem with dealerships is that most of the time, they say they are selling a genuine ceramic coating, but they’re really applying a sealant. That’s where people have really gotten mad.
They thought that they were getting the best protection they possibly could have put on their car, but the dealer put on an inferior product. We highly recommend googling the product that the dealership is selling you to find out information about it. Are there videos on YouTube? Are there positive reviews? Is it as good as they say it is? Do your own research first. Is there a brand name that I should be looking for? Should I ask them what’s the name of the coating?
Ask for the brand of coating. Ask for any paperwork that they have on that coating. Now, here’s the key, look at the fine print. They’re usually going to be selling these coatings with a warranty. Typically, the coating comes with a 20 year or Lifetime Warranty. Look at the stipulations of that warranty because most of the time if you have to bring the car back to the dealer every 6 months to a year, that’s a big red flag. If in that fine print of the warranty it says that you have to bring the car back every 6 months to a year for a reapplication or a recharge of that coating, chances are they’re applying a sealant, not a coating.
If you have to bring your car back every 6 months, customers will say, “Well, why do I need to pay $2,000 for a coating? I’ll just get my car waxed every 6 months.” And they’d be right to say that. They’re being sold on something that they aren’t getting. From an ethical standpoint, it really gets under our skin that the dealership will happily sell you the ceramic coating or protection package for $4,000 but when you turn down their offer, they’ll continually drop the price. At Clean Getaway Car Detailing, we have had customers tell us stories of how the Dealer went from $4,000 to $500 in a heartbeat – just so they could secure the job. We believe that if you can change your price like that, then there must be an incredibly huge profit margin or people are cutting corners – it sounds fishy and just isn’t right!
What is a paint correction on a vehicle?
Here’s the easiest way that I can explain it… You see a black car, and the sun is beating directly on to the side of that car. And as the sun beats on that car, it looks like a spider had laid a web all over that car. Paint correction is the service of removing all of those imperfections in the paint. There are different levels of paint correction as it depends on the extent of imperfections, hardness of paint, colour, and also your expectations. Every car will have some level of spider webbing; they’re just harder to see on lighter coloured cars and easier to see on darker coloured cars.