If you’ve been looking at cars from the dealership, you may notice that many of them come with PermaPlate. And in some cases, it’s an optional extra. It’s quite expensive, so naturally, you’re probably asking yourself is PermaPlate a ceramic coating? Is it worth the money?
Well, we’re here to answer that. As well as other things you need to know about protecting your car from scuffs and dents. Here’s our table of contents to help you navigate:
Is PermaPlate A Ceramic Coating: What’s PermaPlate
First, let’s learn what PermaPlate and ceramic coating are. Ceramic coating is a chemical made from silica dioxide that you apply to a car’s body. This extra layer on top of your car’s paint will protect it from minor scuffs. It protects the car from stone chips, scratches from improper washing (for more insight, check out our guide on scratched plastic bumper repair), and sometimes, very minor scrapes from other cars.
Meanwhile, PermaPlate is a company that specializes in automotive protection. This includes windshields, tires, theft, and yes, body protection. So, PermaPlate isn’t a product type, but rather the brand name.
The video above explains what PermaPlate is as a company and what its products do. They have products for both exterior and interior protection. And many dealers now work with PermaPlate and offer you extra protection for your shiny new purchase. Usually for around $600 on top of the car’s sticker price.
There are many ways you can protect your car’s exterior, with varying degrees of cost and durability. We’ll cover this later in the article, but the ceramic coating is one of the best, and of course, one of the most expensive solutions. So, since PermaPlate is expensive, surely it’s a ceramic coating, no? Or at least, the next best thing?
Is PermaPlate A Ceramic Coating
So, is PermaPlate a ceramic coating? We’re going to be honest with you, we can’t find information on whether PermaPlate is a ceramic coating or not. Both their website and car dealers do not disclose whether PermaPlate is a ceramic coating or it’s just some kind of wax.
From what we could gather, there’s a lot of skepticism around the product. It’s understandable since the product is offered by dealerships, and there’s a lot of distrust around car dealerships. However, judging from demonstration videos, it does seem to work very well:
Great, but for all we know this is just normal sealant, which doesn’t last as long as a ceramic coating. And judging from the way it was applied, it’s likely a polymer sealant. Ceramic coating has a slightly different application method than shown in the video above.
Sure, the $600 cost usually already includes protection for the interior and the windshield, and there’s often a warranty. But we’d still like to know the exact type of protection we’re getting.
Our recommendation? If the dealer applies it for free, that’s great! We all like free things. But if you have to pay extra, we recommend that you stay away from it. Instead, get protection later on from an auto detailer.
This way you have more options on what type of protection to get on your car. And you’ll know exactly what you’re getting, which is important when you’re paying a considerable amount of money.
Protective Coating For Cars
So, since we have no clarity on what type of coating PermaPlate is, we think it’s just better to apply for protection later on your own—whether through DIY or at an auto detailer. The problem is that there are many types of protective coating you can choose from. Let’s take a look at your options, including their benefits, downsides, and costs:
Wax is the simplest and cheapest protection for your car. However, it only prevents dirt and grime from sticking onto the car’s paint. The benefit is that you don’t have to wash it very hard to clean it, and minimizes the chance of swirls and scratches from washing.
However, they don’t protect your car from deep scratches and stone chips on the paint. Another downside is that they last no more than three months. And depending on how you treat your car and how you wash it, it may last shorter than that. So, you’ll need to reapply them quite often.
Still, this is a great—and cheap—option if you want to make your car look shiny and brand new while protecting it from dirt and grime. You can go to an auto detailer or a car wash and get a wax job which costs between $60 to $150 on average.
Note that the cost depends on the car size, so larger cars will likely be on the higher end of the spectrum. If you have free time and want to do something that feels rewarding, you can do it yourself. All you need is quality car wax such as from TurtleWax, clean microfiber towels, and an applicator pad. Read our guide to learn more.
Sealant or paint sealant is a synthetic polymer that you apply onto the car’s surface. Professional car detailers will apply it by using a polishing machine or an applicator pad. Once the chemical cures, it bonds with the paint surface and forms a protective layer on top of the car’s paint to protect it from dirt, scratches, and scuffs.
You’ll notice that they’re similar to ceramic coating, in the sense that they create a protective layer. However, the application method is slightly different. And ceramic coating is harder and more durable, meaning they last longer and offers better protection. That being said, sealant will offer enough protection for most scenarios.
Additionally, auto detailers often offer how many layers of sealant you want to apply to your car. Most will apply two layers as standard, but you’ll usually have the option to pay extra and apply up to five layers. There are virtually no benefits to applying more than five layers.
Auto detailers will charge between $200 and $600 on average. This depends on your car size, and how many layers you want to apply. And the cost usually already includes the cost of polishing, paint correction, and other prep work, also known as car detailing. This is necessary before applying the sealant.
As for durability, sealants will last anywhere between six months to a year. This depends on the quality of the product, and how many layers you apply. You can do this yourself to save money. But this is a long and labor-intensive process, especially if you don’t have a polishing machine.
3. Ceramic Coating
As mentioned, ceramic coating is a coating made from silica dioxide. Some auto detailers may also refer to it as glass or crystal coating. Additionally, some ceramic coating may use nanotechnology to improve its hydrophobic quality and UV resistance. In this case, auto detailers will call it nano-coating or nano-ceramic coating.
The application method is slightly different from sealants. Instead of using a polishing machine, you’ll need to apply it by using an applicator pad and then rubbing it onto the surface in a crosshatch pattern. Almost like you’re painting the car with a brush.
The video above is a complete guide and demonstration on how to apply the ceramic coating. As you’d expect, it’s a long and labor-intensive process. So, if you don’t have the time or energy, it’s best to just go to an auto detailer and have them do it for you.
The average cost for a ceramic coating is usually between $1,000 to $3,000. Yes, that’s a lot of money. But ceramic coating usually lasts at least a year, and some products may last for up to three years before you need to reapply them. Although maintenance is necessary to achieve this.
There’s also a hardness level for ceramic coating, signified with an ‘H’. This varies from 1H to 9H, and 9H is the hardest of them all. How long they last still depends on the product quality, but the harder they are, the better they are at resisting scratches and scuffs.
4. Paint Protection Film (PPF)
Paint Protection Film or PPF is a clear urethane wrap for your car. It’s the same sort of material as a sealant, but you apply it as a wrap rather than applying it in wax or fluid form like you would with a sealant. Almost as if you’re putting a sticker on your car.
If you’ve seen a car with a brightly-colored wrap, PPF is similar to that. However, car wraps are vinyl, whereas PPF is urethane. The advantage of PPF is that some of them have self-healing properties, where you can remove scratches by simply applying heat.
PPF is quite expensive, they can be anywhere between $900 to $2,000 depending on your car size. But this usually already includes the cost of detailing the car.
The upside is that they can have a very long service life. Some brands will claim up to five and even seven years. But we think a more realistic estimate is around three years. Still, three years is a long period.
Another upside is that they require very little maintenance. Sealants and ceramic coatings will require maintenance spray at least every few months. Whereas this isn’t necessary with PPF, although proper washing and waxing every three months are recommended if you want to keep it looking new and shiny.
The biggest downside of PPF is that it can be prone to yellowing over time. Especially if you often leave your car under the sun. While this won’t affect the paint underneath it, it still won’t be pretty especially if you have a white car.
Best Car Paint Protection
With all of these options, what’s the best car paint protection then? Honestly, between sealants, ceramic coating, and paint protection films, there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s a matter of which one fits your budget and needs.
What you need to remember is that none of these is an end-all solution that will magically prevent your car from getting scratches and scuffs. They will still happen, especially if you don’t wash your car properly and don’t maintain them (for more context, check out our explainer on how to wash a motorcycle).
Paint Protection Film VS Ceramic Coating
If you can stretch your budget, you’re probably now thinking of getting either a PPF or ceramic coating. Both cost about the same, but which one’s better? Again, there’s no wrong answer here, but here’s a quick summary of their advantages and disadvantages to help you decide.
First, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of PPF, note that disadvantages will be in bold:
- Low maintenance.
- Many of them have healing properties.
- Typically last longer than ceramic coating.
- Harder to apply and will require professional installation for maximum result.
- Once a defect or blemish appears that can’t self-heal, you’ll need to replace it.
- Some are prone to yellowing.
As for ceramic coatings, here’s what you should consider:
- Ceramic coatings with a 9H rating are usually stronger and more durable than PPF.
- Time-consuming but still possible to do yourself.
- Will require more maintenance. A maintenance spray is recommended every few months, although some auto-detailers may already include this in the upfront cost.
So, if you don’t want to deal with the maintenance, PPF is probably the better option. But if you don’t mind it, ceramic coating is also a great option.
The biggest advantage of ceramic coating is that you can just reapply it if necessary. Whereas PPF will require you to remove it, and then apply a new wrap if a defect or blemish appears.
Me, personally? I’ve only had sealants on my cars, and they do the job just fine for me. I don’t mind having to go to an auto detailer once a year to do some paint correction and reapply the sealant. But if I had to choose, I’m leaning more towards ceramic coating as I don’t mind the maintenance.
As mentioned, whichever protection you choose, you will still need to maintain it to help it last longer. Here are some quick tips:
- Wash your car at least every two weeks. Preferably with the two bucket method, and avoid washing under direct sunlight.
- Don’t use pressure washers for PPF, and avoid automatic car washing at all times.
- Use high-quality car soap. If you have a sealant or ceramic coating, use only pH-neutral car soap to help it last longer.
- Always use a wash mitt when applying the car soap, and dry the car with a microfiber towel. Never use chamois cloth for drying.
- Reduce exposure to direct sunlight, especially for PPF. Park under a shade or in an indoor garage (fun fact, go check out our guide on the square footage for 2 car garage) whenever you can.
- Never dry-wipe your car. The smallest dirt can be abrasive and ruin the protection. Use a clean and damp microfiber cloth to wipe the dirt off, and then wipe it with a dry microfiber towel.
Regardless of what protection you have, scratches, swirls, and other blemishes can still appear. But if you follow those maintenance tips above, they’re less likely to happen. And it makes it easier for you to keep your car looking brand new.
Facts about Car Appearance Warranties:
- PermaPlate and Zurich Shield are two popular appearance warranties sold by car dealerships.
- Both warranties offer a 7-year warranty on appearance, covering fading and peeling of paint, among other things.
- The interior package of the warranty covers all stains and punctures, among other damages.
- It’s important to read the warranty coverage details before deciding if it’s worth the cost.
- Filing claims can help ensure that you get your money’s worth from the warranty.
- Getting your car in perfect condition before the warranty ends can increase its resale value.
- The PermaPlate process is essentially a wash, polish, and wax job for the exterior, and a cleaning and stain-repelling treatment for the interior.
- You can get similar detailing services at a hand car wash for a fraction of the cost (fun fact, you could also check out our guide on how to buy a car wash).
- The high cost of appearance warranties is mainly for the warranty itself, rather than the services provided.
- A new car is not an investment, and the term “protect your investment” is often used to sell unnecessary add-ons with high profit margins.
Is PermaPlate A Ceramic Coating: FAQs
If you have more questions about PermaPlate, ceramic coatings, and automotive protections in general, these answers might be helpful:
What Does Ceramic Coat Do
Ceramic coat, as the name suggests, coats your car’s paint and protects it from scratches and scuffs by using silica dioxide. It’s essentially an extra protective layer (or layers) on top of your car’s paint, kind of like an invisible force field. In addition to protection, ceramic coating is hydrophobic. This means it repels water and makes drying after washing your car much more effortless.
What Is PermaPlate
PermaPlate is a company that specializes in automotive protection. Their products include protection for the windshield, interior, theft prevention, and body protection. The company doesn’t disclose what type of protection they use for their product, but you apply it by rubbing a liquid compound on the car’s surface similar to a paint sealant.
What Is PermaPlate Fee
PermaPlate typically costs between $600 to $1,000 whether you get it from a car dealership or PermaPlate themselves. Note that smaller cars will cost less, sometimes as low as $450.
What Is PermaPlate Protection
PermaPlate offers protection for the car’s exterior, windshield, interior, and even theft protection. The PermaPlate package that the dealership offers usually includes the first three, and there’s a warranty. However, it’s a limited warranty and there are a lot of fine prints, so be very wary.
How To Protect Cars Paint
You have three options: sealant, ceramic coating, or paint protection film (PPF). Sealant is the cheapest option and will last for around six months before you need to reapply. Ceramic coating is similar to sealant, but it’s made from silica dioxide and some products can last up to three years if applied correctly. Meanwhile, PPF is a clear layer of wrap for the car and protects the car’s paint. Ceramic coating and PPF costs around the same, but they come with their own set of benefits and downsides. It’s a matter of which option fits your wallet, and what you value most from the product.
Are Ceramic Coatings Worth It
Yes, they are. They can last up to three years if you use a quality brand and apply it correctly. While scratches and swirls can still happen, the ceramic coating helps to prevent that from happening sooner.
How Much Is It To Ceramic Coat A Car
On average, ceramic coats will cost between $1,000 to $3,000. This includes car detailing such as polishing and paint correction. And the cost depends on the quality of the product, as well as your car size.
How Is Ceramic Coating Applied
The car’s surface needs to be clean and free from grime and dirt before you apply it. Then you apply the ceramic coating by putting it on an applicator pad (most of them come with the pad with every purchase) and then rubbing it on the car’s surface in a crosshatch pattern. You don’t need to rub it very hard and do it panel by panel. Wait for around 6 to 12 hours, then apply a second layer and let it cure. Note that your car shouldn’t be exposed to sunlight for the next 48 hours, and refrain from washing it for the next seven days.
Do Dealerships Wax New Cars
Yes, most dealerships—the decent ones anyway—will usually wax the car before they deliver it to you. The really good ones may even apply a basic sealant treatment before delivery.
Should I Ceramic Coat My New Car
Dealerships usually wax your car, or sometimes give it a basic sealant treatment, before delivering it to you. This should be good for the first three months but after that, you’ll need to apply your own protection to keep your car looking brand new. So, yes, while you don’t need to do it immediately, it’s a good idea to ceramic coat your new car after three months to protect it and help it to look brand new.
Is PermaPlate A Ceramic Coating: Final Thoughts
In conclusion, PermaPlate and dealerships that work with them do not disclose whether their product is a ceramic coating or a different type of coating protection. While their products seem to work well, we have no way to tell and we don’t like the idea of paying hundreds of dollars and not knowing what type of protection we’re getting for our car.
For that reason, we think it’s better to not pay for the PermaPlate option at dealerships. Instead, we recommend that you go to a trusted auto detailer and find a different solution for your car protection needs. Whether you choose to protect your car with sealants, ceramic coating, or PPF, all are great options.
Pick whichever fits your budget, and matches your needs and preferences. All of them will still require maintenance afterward, so pick whichever you think will suit you best. The most important thing is to choose an auto detailer that has a good reputation that you can trust.
So, do your research. Ask your friends and families for recommendations, and research the detailer online for reviews from past customers. You’ll want a detailer that’s honest and thorough. So, while we still have no idea whether PermaPlate is a ceramic coating or not, we hope this has been helpful and now you can make an informed decision for your car protection needs. Good luck!
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