After washing 5.1m long and 2m wide (16 ft long and 6 ft wide) car weekly for over two years I started thinking how to minimize the efforts and time, without causing too much damage to the car paint and the clear coat. The winter is also best time to do any car treatments in the desert. This winter I applied I did my routine by applying ceramic coatings to the wheels and car paint, treated plastic trims, door rubber seals and interior leather cleaning with cream application. This article will focus on the ceramic coatings.
I have tried following ceramic coatings over the past 30 months:
- Meguiar’s Hybrid Paint Coating
- Graphene Ceramic Coating™ Advanced – Kit
- Autoglym Ultra HighDefinition Ceramic Coating
- Gtechniq – CSL Crystal Serum Light 50 mill + EXOv4 Ultra Durable Hydrophobic Coating – 50ml
- Graphene Ceramic Coating™ Advanced – just coating – twice (50 ml each)
- Adam’s UV Ceramic Wheel Coating
- CQUARTZ DLUX Trim & Wheel Coating
With delivery to Middle East and all additional ceramic and bead boosters, detailed sprays cost of the materials that I have tried is over $1,000 USD. If you take into account preparation (clays, surface preps, towels, etc.) it’s around another $200 USD.
Car paint ceramic application in the desert. I almost perfected my routine, where I can ceramic coat the car in one day. I start it with a wash a day before. In the morning I do a quick second wash to remove any dust accumulated over night and start claying the car. Once claying is done, I wash it again and do the surface prep, followed by the ceramic coating application, starting from the roof down.
After applying Gtechnic Crystal Serum and EXO V4 in April, the coating almost disappeared (except the one high spot) by December. It was time to do it again. I was pondering on why the ceramic coatings don’t last longer than 6 months in the dusty desert conditions. Some, obviously cheap products and not designed to last, but others claim up to 7 years…
I looked quite a lot on the tests and trials on different websites, where enthusiasts are simulating real life conditions with following: leaving hoods outside in the sun with weekly washing, or purchasing friction machines to see after how many consecutive washings the coating fails. This is all to determine longevity of the ceramic coatings.
My personal view is that ceramic coating in the desert fails due to high amount of dust in the air. Driving through it is like endless continuous polishing. Secondly ceramic coating is a polymer. Desert sun can easily deliver over 80C (176F) solar radiation. During 6 months I drive around 5,000 km (~3,000 miles) typically in the sun but the car is parked in shade.
I wash it once a week and apply the recommended boosters once a month. This time I decided to focus on the wheel as well. I have realised, that I spend significant amount of time cleaning the wheels (typically first 30-40 minutes to wash wheel and tyres). To save myself some, I decided to remove them, one by one, wash, clean and cover them with “CQuartz Dlux Wheel Coating”. Since I was applying the wheels coating as owner, I used the opportunity having good access to lubricate chassis rubber (suspension links, suspension, dust boots, etc) with “ShinEtsu” silicon grease and “AT-205” reseal. No detailer will do it for you, unless you ask specifically but they will try to charge you for paint correction instead, since this is more profitable.
I spent one day, first washing the wheels, then taking them off one by one. For that I specially bought a torque wrench. To make sure that the wheels nuts are correctly torqued. I have experience even at Nissan Service where they are using air guns to torque the wheel nuts uncontrollably. After a few years they charged me $200 USD for the new wheel nuts.
Steps to ceramic coat the wheels:
First. Wash one wheel while it’s on, with appropriate car shampoo.
Second. Remove the wheel. Before removing the wheel, make sure your car is safely on a 6t jack stand. Wash the inner rim with shampoo.
Third. Deep cleaning the wheel rim using Sonax Rim Cleaner and SOFT99 493 Wheel Cleaning Wipes.
Fourth. Remove brake dust with iron remover.
Fifth. Clay the rims, followed by a wash. Once its dry use the Isopropyl alcohol aka surface prep.
Sixth. Apply the ceramic coating inner rim and outer.
You have a choice – either to wait for a couple of hours, as outer rim needs time for the coating to be touch free or coat the external rim after the wheel is put back on. Otherwise, it’s very difficult to put it back on without touching the rim.
After the coating is applied on one wheel, I use the drying time to grease and lubricate the suspension and then washed the next wheel while it was on. Once it was done, I put the first coated wheel back on. I bought 50ml bottle and it was enough to do the second coat on the outer wheel rim once all four where done.
On the pictures below the tires are two-year-old and not covered by any rubber treatment (I was afraid the liquid could get onto the ceramic coating). The coating was applied in November and three months later its holding on so far.
Car pain ceramic coating was re-applied in the usual way. The only thing to add is that I learnt that the car clear coat and paints have their own negative charge (high static charge) just by themselves and this attracts dust. There is nothing can be done about according to the research I have done so far.
This time I wiped the coating almost immediately, after applying one panel at a time. My view that it’s not worth to pay for “professional installation” of a ceramic coating, especially to pay for the paint correction. If you buy a new car put quality paint protection film immediately if you planning to keep car more than 5-7 years in the desert. Ceramic coating is last resort if you have already many imperfections and chips. If you have a smaller car the traditional wax every other wash is a way to go.
The other way to protect your car clear coat in the desert is to avoid scratching it during washing. Wash the dust off with water without touching the car, foam bath and only last wash is contact one. You will use about 500ml (17 Oz) of shampoo which will cost you about 0.5 KWD (~1.5 USD) a week. Don’t let your harris or guy at supermarket to wash it by scrabbing with old rag and bucket of water.