For many non-gearheads, the world of cars, trucks and detailing can feel a little confusing. You may find yourself asking questions like, what does it mean when someone refers to the “clear coat” on my vehicle? What’s the difference between paint protection and paint correction? Which is better—sealant, wax or ceramic coating?
We understand how the sometimes-confusing terminology and array of solutions designed to accomplish the same goal can make it difficult to decide which options are best or right for your vehicle. Regardless of their level of expertise, every vehicle owner wants to make sure that all the steps they take do more good than harm to such a big investment.
This is why we have put together a consumer guide for paint correction and protection solutions, including a list of commonly used detailing and exterior maintenance terms.
Basic Terms Explained
Clear Coat: The non-pigmented resin layer that covers your vehicle’s paint color
Ceramic Coating: Synthetic coats that protect your vehicle from the elements and other debris
Paint Correction: This is maintenance process that involves the removal of all dirt, debris and imperfections within the clear coat of a vehicle
Paint Protection: A category of materials meant to prevent damage to a vehicle’s exterior, particularly the paint layer (this includes ceramic coating, sealant and wax)
Paint Sealant: Resins and other synthetics that are bonded to the clear coat of your car or vehicle for added protection
Car Wax: Made up of synthetic or natural waxes such as carnauba, bees wax or Montan and is intended to protect vehicles and increase glossiness or shine
Paint Protection vs. Paint Correction
Paint protection is the more proactive of these two commonly conflated terms. It is the act of protecting one’s vehicle with a variety of products and materials that are used as preventative measures, including applying things like sealant, wax and ceramic coating.
Paint protection is one of the most effective ways to maintain a high-quality vehicle exterior appearance for the long-term. Paint protection makes exterior maintenance and washing easier, improves the durability of a vehicle’s exterior and ensures there are less repairs needed down the road.
Paint correction comes into play when there are small scratches, swirling, imperfections or damage on a vehicle’s exterior that need to be repaired. The damage can occur for a myriad of reasons from excessive exposure to weather elements, lack of paint protection or normal wear and tear of a vehicle. If there is major damage to your vehicle’s paint layer or clear coat, we suggest getting the help of a professional to restore your car’s exterior to its former glory.
Sealant, Wax or Ceramic Coating
Choosing the right paint protection method may seem like an overwhelming decision. There are quite a few variables you should consider when making your choice, including cost, effectiveness and durability. You should keep these factors in mind when deciding which route is the best one for you and your vehicle. The following are the basic pros and cons of each.
Wax Pros and Cons
• The cheapest of your paint protection options
• Made of naturally occurring waxes
• Easy to apply or remove due to low bonding rate
• Attracts dirt or debris, which could result in a dirtier appearance
• Low bonding rate means it degrades quickly (due to washes or the elements)
• Must be frequently applied to ensure effectiveness
Sealant Pros and Cons
• Bonds tightly to the clear coat of a vehicle, creating strong molecular barrier
• Increases durability and lifespan of your paint coat
• Relatively easy to fix if improperly applied
• Offers some resistance to UV rays, abrasions and chemicals
• Middle of the road in terms of cost
• Can easily stain plastic, vinyl and fabric if not applied properly
• Does not offer full resistance to all destructive elements
• Lasts only 3 to 6 months on average
Ceramic Coating Pros and Cons
• Highest quality paint protection product out there
• Utilizes newest technology in liquid paint protection
• Nano-ceramic polymers offer maximum adhesion levels
• Bonds rapidly to paint creating a hydrophobic layer
• Extremely durable and ensures years of protection
• Protects from all types of potential damage: UV radiation, weather erosion, hard water, bird droppings, chemicals, tree sap and pollen, light scratches, overspray and industrial fallout
• Can be applied on matte and satin paint finishes as well as clear bra and vinyl
• Professional application is necessary
• Removal is extremely difficult if improperly applied
• Highest cost of all paint protectors
Can Our Phoenix and Scottsdale Auto Detailing Experts Help You Choose the Correct Paint Protection?
Many people just consider the cost when making car maintenance-related purchases or decisions, but cost isn’t the only issue and can be deceiving when it comes to protecting your vehicle. For example, wax is cheap and is fine for a short-term solution but if you plan on applying it every couple of months it may be more cost effective to go with a sealant or ceramic coating, both of which will also provide more protection.
Another thing to keep in mind is that lower short-term costs can leave your vehicle’s exterior vulnerable to some types of damage and may lead to more repairs.
If you have questions about which type of paint protectant is suitable for your vehicle’s needs, our qualified Valley detailing professionals at RPM Automotive are happy to point you in the right direction. We offer a wide range of detailing services including but not limited to ceramic coating. Contact us online or call us at 602.776.8888 today to learn more.