Ceramic Waxes — Better Detail Tech, or Merely Just New?

All of you by now likely know about my car detail products fetish.  I rub on my cars constantly, and love trying the latest and/or greatest new products on them.

I’m constantly asked about the new “Ceramics.”  The theory behind most of them is that they are chemically intended to form a chemical bond with your paint when prepped and applied properly.  For a while this was the domain of only detailing specialists, and having it professionally applied was (and remains) expensive, although now most of the popular car care brands offer some sort of ceramic product line.  A friend of mine uses it on his big Jag sedan; he buys the “one year” ceramic treatment, applied at a detail shop, which includes a comprehensive paint stripping, cleaning, polishing, and sealant coat(s).  Car looks great when its done.  I’m not sure if it lasts a year or not — he seems to believe it does.  And it’s like a grand for the whole enchilada at the shop he goes to.

What I do know is that most ceramic products don’t “polish” or correct your paint in any way.  And that in most cases you have to strip your paint of all previous waxes and polishes with a paint prep cleaner product, or a 50/50 mix of water and isopropyl alcohol; if there’s remaining old wax, the ceramic can’t bond with the paint.

So if you need any sort of scratch or haze mitigation, or other paint correction, in most cases you’ll need to properly clean and polish the paint first, then wipe it down with the prep stuff before any ceramics.

I’ve not yet experimented or tested enough of this stuff to have an informed opinion; I’m kind of an old school “wax on, wax off” guy,  either by hand or with an orbital buffer, although I have come around to the goodness and value of many of today’s synthetic products; they tend to be easy to use, shine nicely, and last long.  In order to appeal to those who are more used to working with conventional wax products, Mothers has recently launched a Ceramic Hybrid line of products that combine a bit of both.  Some do the prep as part of their application, others do not.

The only of these products I’ve much experimented with is Mothers Ultimate Hybrid Ceramic Detailer, which so far I like a lot.  Easy on, easy off, dries clean, shines, and appears to protect, you can use it over ceramics or conventional waxes.  Nice stuff, but I’ve not yet tested the rest of the line.  Mothers also makes a spray on surface prep, and a spray ceramic product called CMX.

So that’s what I know and don’t.  I’d say do your research, try some products, and see how you like it or don’t.  I’ll be doing the same on various of my cars, and as the summer turns to fall and winter, and we’ll see what works, shines, and holds up or doesn’t.

Happy shining,