Like pistachios in the 1970s or rose gold in the 2010s, ceramic products are a dominant trend in the car care world at the moment. Unlike pistachios, however, ceramic (SiO2) technology is renowned for its protective abilities and is no flash in the pan, it's here to stay and becoming increasingly accessible.
First popping up in the world of professionally applied sealants before being introduced for DIYers in a variety of sealants and waxes, it's slowly made its way into more and more products including glass cleaners and even trim restorers.
It's only natural therefore that it would eventually arrive at car shampoos. The argument for ceramic technology in car shampoo is very solid, it'll enhance lubricity which limits scratches and offers a small amount of paint protection. A little like wash and wax shampoos (only actually useful), ceramic shampoos like this offering from Autobead are an exciting prospect.
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Designed to top up an existing protective coating or provide a basic layer of protection to an untreated car, this shampoo sounds like a real timesaver. A slick shampoo to use, it proved itself to be an excellent choice for a car that's previously been protected and isn't too dirty.
It's most at home maintaining the finish of a ceramic-coated car which does make it a rather niche product, but it's a pleasure to use and an affordable way to enter the world of ceramic car care.
Verdict: Very slick to use and the protective elements are there, but it works best if your car is already protected.
|• Super-slick to use||• Protection won’t compare to a wax|
|• Good value for money||• Works best on protected cars|
|Extras||Tops up existing paint protection, SiO2 technology|
The lubrication offered by this shampoo is on a whole new level. The slickness with which a wash mitt glides over a body panel is like butter slides across a heated Teflon pan, it's utterly effortless. This is good news for the paintwork as small bits of grit shouldn't become wedged between the mitt and bodywork leading to nasty scratches. It's a safe option and particularly good if you're not wanting to polish your car any time soon.
It foams up really well too, with small and stable bubbles that cling well to surfaces. What this all means is that the Autobead shampoo is delightful to use, with an easy visual reminder of any spots you may have missed and super slick cleaning action. It also leaves behind a fairly deep gloss in the paintwork, although one that will need a coating of quick detailer to properly make it pop.
A core component of a ceramic shampoo should be that it adds a small layer of protection as you wash. On this front, Autobead performs adequately. It's very good on already-protected cars where it works as a top-up, prolonging a wax or sealant and ensuring that it remains as intact as possible. Here that small layer of protection is enough of a reinforcement to be a worthwhile contribution.
But for untreated cars, the slither of protection offered isn't really worth talking about. Regular use may build up a decent layer of protection, but after a single wash, there was no real difference when checked for hydrophobicity. Water didn't really bead when chucked over a test panel, a sign that more washes would be required to get any decent protection.
The cleaning ability isn't as powerful as other car shampoos on sale, perhaps because this shampoo is primarily designed for cleaning cars that have a protective coating already applied. The Volvo C30 test car had no pre-existing protection on it and there were a few spots that the shampoo struggled to deal with. That's not to say that it wasn't an acceptable cleaner, it's just weaker than other car shampoos on the market. It's compatible with Soft99's Creamy pH Neutral Shampoo in terms of cleaning ability.
As such, it's recommendable to attack any mucky parts with a decent citrus prewash before shampooing if the car in question doesn't have a coating on it. Using the shampoo on a wax-treated panel did reveal better results but that was in part down to the fact the wax prevented the panel from becoming as dirty.
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How this product was tested
This shampoo was tested on two separate occasions in both overcast and sunny weather. The two cars it was tested on were first snow foamed before being washed according to the product's instructions. We also used Gtechniq GWash alongside it to provide a comparison point.