Updated: Dec 23, 2021
You did the research. Watched all the YouTube Videos. Picked the brand of coating you wanted. Found a reputable detail shop and paid them a huge amount for a 5 year ceramic coating. Or you bought a 2 year DIY coating. Followed the instructions to the letter when applying the coating. In both cases the vehicle looked awesome at first.
And 6 months later you can't even tell if the coating is still there. The water doesn't bead like it used to. It's not as glossy as it used to be. The surface isn't as slick as it was. Did the detail shop rip you off? Did you install the product wrong? Was it just a crap product? Probably not.
There are several possible reasons why the coating has stopped performing
1. The most likely cause is that the coating is DIRTY!
One of the biggest misconceptions about ceramic coatings is that they are totally maintenance free. To the extent that I have even had customers tell me they thought the only cleaning they needed to do was rinse the car with a garden hose.
The reality is that although a coated car (because of the hardness and slickness of the surface) is easier to clean, it will still get contaminated over time with many of the same contaminants that stick to factory paint. Pollution, industrial fallout, rail dust, tree sap mist, overspray can all become embedded on the surface of the coating. Obviously the more these contaminants build up on your coating the less slick and glossy it will be.
Decontaminate your coating every 6 months the same as you would on a non-coated car.
2. The coating is due for maintenance
If you clay bar your vehicle and the coating still does not seem to performing like it was when brand new, you may be due for a maintenance "topper". The reality is that no matter how conscientious you are every time you touch your coating with a wash mitt, towel etc. the friction on the surface will start to impact the slickness of the top of the coating. Ceramic coatings are harder than your factory paint but are not totally impervious to scuffing etc.
Most professionally installed coatings require a yearly maintenance in order to keep your warranty valid. Usually during this inspection a ceramic spray will be applied to freshen up the coating. Most brands of DIY coatings recommend using a refresher spray approx. every 6 months.
Regardless of what type of coating you have you should use a ceramic maintenance product on a regular basis to keep it looking its best. Any time you add a ceramic based product on top of your coating it not only refreshes the coating you are also adding a sacrificial layer on top of the coating IE: the top coat will wear away before any of your base coating does. If your coating is Si02 (ceramic) based, pretty much any Si02 based top coat will be compatible with your coating. Maintaining your coating will not only keep it looking great, it extends the life of the coating.
There are several methods to maintain your coating..
Spray on dry
These are maintenance sprays that are applied very similar to a spray wax. Most have a durability of 6 months or more Note: These type products can be used as a standalone (no base coat) as well and you will get about the same lifespan as you would using it as a top coat. These products are a great solution for those who desire the look of ceramic but do not want to take the time to apply a longer life coating. Following are examples of good quality Si02 maintenance sprays..
System X Renew - 1 year durability
CarPro Reload - 6 months durability
Gyeon Cure - 6 months durability
Gtechniq C2 Liquid Crystal - 6 months durability
Turtle Wax Ceramic Spray Coating - 6 months durability
Spray on Wet
These types of products are applied while washing your vehicle. Once you have washed and rinsed the car you simply mist the product over the wet vehicle, re-rinse with high water pressure and dry as normal. You are leaving an Si02 layer on the paint that has approx. 3 months durability. Again you don't have to have a ceramic coating already on the car in order to use these products. Some of most popular products in this category are..
A ceramic detailer is used exactly the same as a standard detailer. The only difference is that there are Si02 particles in the product. Although not long lasting like the products above a ceramic detailer will give you that "just coated" look.
3. Improper Washing
The final reason your coating may not look or perform the way it did when new is poor washing methods. Ceramic coatings are NOT bulletproof. If you assumed just because you ceramic coated your vehicle you can now go through brushed automatic car washes with no negative effects you are wrong. Although harder to scratch than factory paint, ceramic coatings can still be damaged! If you have a 5 year plus coating and this has occurred you have probably not damaged the actual paint (the coating took the abuse), but in order to repair it the top of the coating it will need to be polished to repair the coating. If this has occurred a great ceramic repair polish is CarPro's Essence +. If you have a thinner coating you may have actually worn the coating away and possibly damaged the factory paint underneath.
Treat your ceramic coated car with the same care you would an uncoated vehicle and the coating will last longer & look better longer!