Best ceramic coating for cars: CAR explains

We delve into the relatively new world of ceramic car coating products. How do they work? How to use them? You've come to the right place.

the best ceramic coating car products

by Chris Williams |

The world is a funny place. The speed at which it is advancing is unfathomable, but people will always grumble about change. Either because they don't understand it, or because it scares them. Such is the case with electric vehicles; and was the case when cars first appeared; and when baked beans were first added to the English Breakfast.

Fortunately for the tentative, the emergence of ceramic coating products for cars is not quite so daunting. Nevertheless, there is some confusion over what it can actually do. Thus, we have created this article to give you a straight-up, informative guide to ceramic car care products.

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What is ceramic coating and how does it work?

Products that give a ceramic coating are liquid silicon dioxide (SiO2) polymers (long chains of molecules), also known as silica and found in nature as quartz. When applied to a car’s surface the liquid bonds firmly to it, which adds a layer of protection. You can think of a ceramic coating as an upstaged alternative to car wax.

When applied, a ceramic coating will give lasting protection (months, sometimes years) against punishing UV, acidic substances such as bird poo, and light scratches such as those caused by metal zips on jackets. A ceramic coating will also add considerable water repellency to paint, and dirt or mud will not stick to it quite so readily.

Is a ceramic coating worth it?

As we said, a ceramic coating is like wax. It is an effective protectant. However, it won’t protect against stone chips, significant scratches, or eliminate the need for washing your car.

If you want protection against stone chips and the like, a paint protection film is what you need. As for washing your car, dirt will still accumulate over time. A ceramic coating will mean less frequent cleaning, but it won’t eliminate it.

A ceramic coating sounds like a specialist option for those who care a lot (possibly even too much) about their car's paintwork. While that's true, the easy application and longevity of some ceramic coatings also make them appealing to the rest of us too because they improve our cars' appearance, level of paint protection, and ease of cleaning.

How to apply ceramic coating

As you will see below there is quite a range of product types. Ceramic products car vary from spot detailers to strong lacquers. It depends on what you want and how much you care about maintaining your car’s appearance. If you like tidy but aren’t fastidious about it, ceramic car shampoo, detailer, or spray will suit you because they are relatively effective and very quick to apply. If you are scrupulous about your car’s appearance, you should consider some of the more serious options.

Naturally, the dedicated ceramic pastes and liquids will be more effective and long-lasting than the sprays and shampoos. Take this into account when you consider which is right for you.

A ceramic shampoo can be applied like a regular car shampoo: dilute a couple of capfuls in water and scrub the car with a cloth or wash mitt before rinsing off.

Spray products are easiest. Simply spray onto a the clean surface. Some need subsequent wiping, some get rinsed with water; it depends on the product.

The dedicated ceramic coatings are more time consuming. They need to be applied by hand to a clean, dry panels before buffing. They usually require curing time too, but the benefit is best protection and longevity.

CAR's top ceramic coating product:

Gtechniq C1 Crystal Lacquer (30 or 50ml)

Editoru2019s pick
Gtechniq C1 Crystal Lacquer

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The Gtechniq coating is thicker than its rivals and lasts longer too u2013 up to five years, Gtechniq claims. Yet, it is very simple to apply: add several drops of C1 to an application pad and apply one panel at a time, then buff. The only slight inconvenience is that you need to leave your car indoors for 12 hours, in order for the coating to cure fully.

Other ceramic products

There are many car care products around that incorporate ceramic technology. Such products do not contain as much SiO2 as the proper ceramic coatings and therefore are not as effective. What they tend to offer is convenience - quick sprays, and 2-in-1 options.

We know that products such as these are very attractive to most of us because they are considered a quick-fix alternative to a more hardcore product. As such, we have included our recommended range of these. But you must be aware they do not achieve the same result as the ceramic coatings above.

Mother's CMX Ceramic Wash & Coat (1.4L)

Best ceramic car shampoo
Mother's CMX Ceramic Wash & Coat - 1.4L

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Mixed in with car shampoo, this stuff gets applied when you wash your car like normal and leaves behind some added ceramic protection. Add a couple of capfuls to half a bucket of water and apply the shampoo to a rinsed car as you would normally. Rinse it off once youu2019re done and dry with a microfibre towel. In the same way that some shampoos have incorporated wax for added protection, so does this.

Meguiar's Hybrid Ceramic Spray Wax (768ml)

Best spray-on ceramic wax
Meguiar's Hybrid Ceramic Spray Wax

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For applying to a clean car, simply spray on the ceramic wax; rinse it off with a pressure washer or hose; then dry the car. You donu2019t have to rub it on because rinsing with water spreads it for you. Itu2019s much faster to apply than the products below, but the trade-off is that the protection is not on the same level.

Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Polish & Wax (500ml)

Best 2-in-1
Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Ceramic Polish & Wax

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The Mother's ceramic car shampoo substitutes wax for ceramic, so too does this. Because you apply it with a pad or cloth, it acts as a better protectant than the Meguiar's spray, though it does take longer. However, you can speed up the process with a polishing machine of you wish. Because of the polish, this produces the best shine of all the products here.

Once you have done this and wiped away residue, you can apply the UHD Ceramic Coating. Apply it one panel at a time, or even half a panel. Then buff it off once a film has formed.

Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Ceramic 3-in-1 Detailer (500ml)

Best spray-on ceramic detailer
Turtle Wax Hybrid Solutions Ceramic 3-in-1 Detailer

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People not quite so hardcore about car cleaning will find this handy. It can be used on glass and wheels as well as paintwork. Spray it on to a clean panel and wipe it. You can use it on dirty surfaces, but we suggest applying it to clean surfaces for better efficiency.

Turtle Wax has released a new polymer product called Pro Flex that has graphene infused into it. It works very well and is indeed an improvement, but it’s also twice the price.

Which ceramic coating product is right for you?

Think about how seriously you take car cleaning. Don't kid yourself and go for the serious stuff if you know you can't be bothered applying it. Go for a detailer, spray wax or shampoo.

For those of you who are willing to put in the effort, ceramic products are certainly worth trying out if you have only used wax so far. If you already have an arsenal of car shampoo and polish, consider the Gtechniq or Pure Definition ceramic coatings to add as a finishing layer.

What to read next:

CAR's guide to cleaning leather seats

Car upholstery cleaners that truly work

The best car vacuum cleaners

The best alloy wheel cleaners

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