Dealership Ceramic Coatings: Am I Wasting My Money?
When you are purchasing a new vehicle, the dealership might try to sell you a "coating" when you are going over the financing and warranty options. In some cases you might even see a coating or a protection package on your invoice without even asking for it! Are these coatings worth it? Do they actually work? How are they different from a professional coating applied by a detailer? These are all very important questions to answer before you tack on another chunk of change to your vehicle loan!
First of all, the majority of the dealership coatings are far inferior to any of the professional ceramic coatings from reputable brands. They are often watered down products designed for higher volume applications and do not last very long. I also like to consider Ziebart's coatings in this same category as a dealership coating. Ziebart also has some misleading products that may have the word "ceramic" in it but are not true coatings. Below is a list of some of the reputable ceramic coating companies in the industry that make professional products.
If you see a ceramic coating package on your invoice at the dealership, be sure to inquire about the brand of coating. If it's something like Z-Guard, Diamond, or Zuirch-Shield, just know that these are not professional ceramic coatings. What the dealership is really selling you is just a "warranty." They will claim that their coating will offer all of these amazing benefits, and that they will fix any issues that come up even to the extend of dents and scratches. Most of the time unfortunately, the language in these warranties is very misleading. The wording is such that allows the dealership to get out of covering almost anything. The cost is also very subjective dealer to dealer and can be marked up as much as 300%. Yes, 300%! I've seen prices range from $700 to $2500. That money can go a lot further to protect your vehicle the right way with a professional detailer.
The other difference, and the biggest one in my opinion, is in the way that these coatings are applied versus hiring a professional detailer. The prep work is the most important part in guaranteeing a good ceramic coating application, and often times this step is rushed, or even flat out skipped in dealerships and higher production shops like Ziebart. Dealerships (or even some detailers ☹️) will say that a new vehicle does not need to be paint corrected/polished. While most new vehicles won't need as much paint correction as older vehicles, they certainly still do need a good polish! In fact, I have seen some brand new vehicles with less than 100 miles on them need a full two-step paint correction. This could be from one bad wash at the dealership, or just a poor paint job from the factory (*cough cough Tesla).
The other part of this, is that often times the person installing the coating at the dealership is not going to be a professional detailer or coating specialist. It's usually going to be a younger individual that was trained to get the vehicles in and out of the shop as quickly as possible. If a dealership says they can apply the coating and you can drive the vehicle home in the same day, that is not a real coating. A proper coating installation would require a minimum 12-hour cure time before the vehicle is exposed to driving elements. When you take your vehicle to a professional detailer, they should prep the vehicle properly, apply the coating correctly, and give it the manufacturer recommended cure time. At High-Def Detailing our coating application is a 3 day process:
Day 1 - We spend the whole day prepping your vehicle with a thorough decontamination process, and the appropriate level of paint correction
Day 2 - Applying all of the specific coatings to paint, wheels, plastic, and glass
Day 3 - The vehicle would have just had 12 hours to cure over night so we do some final inspections and get your vehicle ready for pickup
Don't feel bad if you have a dealership ceramic coating on your vehicle. There are simple ways to test the strength of the coating and see how well it is holding up. If it has failed or stopped working we can still install a professional level coating at that point. Our prep process will remove any previous coatings from the vehicle's paintwork making it ready to receive a new one.
Check out our 3 levels of ceramic coating packages at the link below for more information on what we offer at High-Def Detailing. We are the only Gtechniq Accredited ceramic coating installer in Michiana and proudly offer some of the industry's best ceramic coatings.
Gtechniq Accredited Ceramic Coating Specialist
STEK Paint Protection Film Accredited