Paint Protection: What is it and is it worth getting?
We’ve all heard the stories about paint protection - the typical salesman pitch at the dealership once you’ve decided on that new car, whether you want to add on paint protection, interior protection and window tint for the special price of 10% of the car's value.
The most common question is ‘the paint is already protected, isn’t it?’ And it’s true - the clear coat on top of the vehicles paintwork is there to protect it as well as keeping it looking shiny, but it does require regular upkeep to keep it looking and performing its best, especially in the harsh Australia climate.
Different types of paint protection
So, is it worth taking the dealership up on that offer, or is paint protection the snake oil that most people think it is? Firstly, let's look into the different types of paint protection and the so-called benefits that they offer.
Paint protection has been around almost as long as the vehicles they are designed to protect. The very basic form of paint protection is the humble wax. Designed to enhance the paintwork it is applied to, a wax also has some protective properties, although they tend to wear off quite quickly, especially in hot conditions. They are relatively simple to apply, especially if you like recreating the famous ‘wax-on, wax-off’ technique from the Karate Kid.
The next step up from waxes are known as paint sealants. These are of a polymer base and are usually a synthetic man-made product. They provide much more durability, often lasting 6 months or more depending on how the vehicle is maintained, as well as providing great shine and dirt repelling qualities. They tend to be applied in the same fashion as a traditional wax, but provide better protection.
The latest technology in paint protection is the ceramic or glass coating. This is usually the style of paint protection the dealership will offer you, with claims it is scratch resistant and will last a lifetime! It sounds too good to be true, and it is. This doesn't mean that coatings are useless and a waste of money, but by understanding how they work and setting realistic expectations, you can decide whether this type of paint protection will suit your needs.
Ceramic or glass coating is primarily silica-based products that create a hard, glass-like coating on top of the existing clear coat. They tend to be of a negative charge, which causes them to actively repel dust and dirt whilst also providing a high level of repellency to water and contaminants such as bird droppings. They are also very durable, with most products lasting 2 years or more, depending on the upkeep.
Ceramic and glass coating products make keeping the paintwork clean much easier and faster, as typical road grime and dirt has trouble sticking to the coating. A ceramic coating can also increase the gloss level of the paint, making it more ‘shiny’ and reflective.
Is paint protection for you?
That’s a question you need to ask yourself. It depends on how the vehicle is stored, how much time you spend cleaning and maintaining its showroom finish, or if you prefer something that’s easy to clean and repels dirt and water.
If the car lives outside its whole life and you want it to be easy to clean, paint protection might be something to consider. If you keep your vehicle stored in the garage and only bring it out when the sun is shining, a quality wax product will be more than enough to keep your vehicle looking amazing.
The one thing that everyone can agree on is that shopping around to have paint protection applied outside the dealership network will be a huge benefit to your back pocket. There are many quality detailers who will be able to apply your paint protection significantly cheaper than the dealership will.
The end result? You’ll get a well-protected vehicle that will look great for years to come and you’ll save yourself a bit of dough doing so.
Finding a passion for cars from a young age, Joel carried out work experience as a mechanic whilst at school before starting an apprenticeship after finishing year 12.
After almost 10 years on the tools and in customer service, he moved into the IT realm as a Data Analyst and In-House mechanic at AutoGuru.