How to Tell if Your Car Has Ceramic Coating: 5 Methods

Ollie Barker

How to Tell if Your Car Has Ceramic Coating

How to Tell if Your Car Has Ceramic Coating

How to tell if your car has ceramic coating? When purchasing a new car, you know that it will not have any ceramic coating unless you pay extra. For sure, a dealership cannot add one for free because it would require excessive labor. However, it might not be clear how much paint protection the previous owner applied when purchasing a pre-owned car.

In a nutshell, ceramic coating can be identified by:

  • A water beading test
  • Feeling the paint
  • Observe how it affects dirt and dust
  • Verify the documentation
  • Consult professionals

What is Ceramic Coating?

A sort of paint protection that is applied to the surface of your car is ceramic coating. They come in various colors and can be used on the interior or exterior of the car. Ceramic coatings have numerous layers, each of which has a distinct function.

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The primer, which sticks to the car’s surface and serves as a foundation for the subsequent coats, is the initial layer. The color coat, which is the second layer, is what gives the coating its color. The third layer’s clear coat gives the color coat protection and a glossy finish. The final layer’s sealant guards the coating against oxidation and UV deterioration. Therefore, ceramic coating is a sort of paint protection that provides the best weather resistance.

Additionally, ceramic coatings can endure up to five years when properly placed. They are significantly simpler to maintain than conventional waxes or sealants and may be reapplied if necessary. You may also see if applying a ceramic coating on the glass is possible because doing so could be a terrific approach to prevent the glass from scratching.

Benefits of A Ceramic Coating

Here is a quick summary of the benefits that a ceramic coating can bring to your vehicle:

1. Protection against oxidation and UV 

Continuous sun exposure causes oxidization, which results in fading and drab paint on your car. The rate of oxidization will be slowed down by ceramic coating’s protection of your car’s paint from damaging UV rays.

2. Defend against chemical stains and etching

Additionally, your car’s paintwork is at risk from naturally occurring acidic pollutants. A ceramic coat generates a chemically resistant surface to stop impurities from adhering to the paint on your car. As long as the contamination is promptly scraped away, this will result in resistance to etching and stains.

3. Simple to clean

Hydrophobic ceramic coatings are water-repellent. When you give your car a hydrophobic ceramic coating, it ensures that water will simply glide off the surface of the car when it comes into touch with it. With ceramic coating, it will be impossible for dirt and mud to adhere to your car because there won’t be any water to facilitate bonding. Additionally, when there is a ceramic coating present, pollutants wash off more readily.

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4. Enhancing the gloss

A ceramic coating layer enhances your car’s shiny sheen. It will improve the reflecting qualities of your car paint, increasing the clarity and depth of the paint.

Ceramic Coating vs Paint Sealant & Wax

Let’s quickly examine the differences between carnauba wax, paint sealant, and ceramic coating.

The fundamental distinction between wax and paint sealant is how long each one lasts before degrading and losing its ability to cause water to bead.

Each of these options has its own unique set of characteristics that can offer varying degrees of protection and durability.

Ceramic coating

This is a relatively new advancement in car care technology that has taken the market by storm. This innovative product comprises bonding agents and silicon dioxide, forming a long-lasting protective layer on your car’s exterior.

Ceramic coatings have a reputation for being incredibly scratch-resistant, hydrophobic, and long-lasting, often providing up to five years of protection. However, they generally require a professional application and can be costly.

Paint sealants

On the other hand, paint sealants are more affordable and readily available, typically found in retail stores. They are made of synthetic polymers and are designed to bond well with the car’s surface, offering a smooth and glossy finish.

Paint sealants are formulated to provide UV protection and resistance against environmental pollutants and contaminants. Compared to waxes, paint sealants can last longer, ranging from six months to a year. However, they may not perform as well as ceramic coating regarding scratch resistance.


Finally, wax is likely the most popular of these three options due to its low cost, easy application, and availability. Wax is known for providing a deep shine and enhancing the color of your car. Like sealants, car waxes provide a protective layer on the surface to guard against UV rays, oxidation, and water spots. However, they typically last only two to three months and are less durable than ceramic coatings or paint sealants.

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How to Tell if Your Car Has Ceramic Coating

Below is 5 possible methods you can use to spot if your car has a ceramic coating. Sometimes, one method isn’t enough, and you need to combine a few:

1. Water beading test 

How to Tell if Your Car Has Ceramic Coating

Take an automobile for a test drive to see if it has a ceramic coating. Spray water on the car; as you drive faster, water droplets will come into streams that will emerge from the car.

Drops of water will stick to the car’s surface without ceramic coating.

Water beading will become less noticeable when the coating loses effectiveness. You’ll observe that the water’s sheets change into clear beads. Water consequently stays on exterior surfaces longer than it did previously. Water will stick to your car as the ceramic coating gets worse.

The nature and consistency of the water beads on your car should also be observed. Your car doesn’t have a ceramic coating if the water beads vary in size and shape depending on where they are positioned. Ceramic coatings normally make water bead up in a more consistent manner.

Check out This Video for Water Beading and Sheeting Test

2. Feel the surface

The feel of the paint is the next aspect we want to examine. Is the paint smooth or a tiny bit textured? Paint usually feels smooth and slippery after applying waxes, paint sealants, and ceramic coatings. There’s a chance your car doesn’t have a ceramic coating if you’ve had it for a few months, water isn’t beading as much, or the paint doesn’t feel as smooth.

Washing your car and using chemicals recommended by ceramics for a light cleansing is one way to be certain. If the slickness and water-beading characteristics reappear without the use of topcoat-type products, it’s probable that a ceramic coating was previously applied but just ignored.

To fully restore the ceramic coating’s characteristics, proceed and add a ceramic coating topcoat now.

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3. Observe how it affects dirt and dust

The way that dust and filth adhere to the car when it comes into touch with water is another sign that it has a ceramic coating. For instance, if it has recently rained or been washed and the car is dusty or only mildly soiled when it gets wet.

Look at the areas where the dust is. Has the dust remained on the paint or has the water lifted it, leaving it to float in the water droplets? It’s a pretty solid indication that a ceramic coating has been used if you can see dirt and dust floating in the water droplets. Since most coatings have a self-cleaning quality, this is a reliable sign that a ceramic coating is present.

4. Examine the vehicle’s paper

Examining the car’s paperwork is another approach to determine this. If the car has a ceramic coating, the specifications will probably mention it. If the car has a ceramic coating, you can also inquire with the dealer or the prior owner.

5. Consult professionals 

You can always bring your car to a specialist for ceramic coating and have them verify if you’re unsure whether it has a coating. They will be able to tell you if the coating has to be reapplied or if it is still intact.

How Durable Is Ceramic Coating?

Although installing a ceramic coating isn’t very inexpensive, it’s worthwhile considering how long these coatings last. A ceramic coating on an automobile will typically last between two and five years, depending on the coating’s quality and the conditions it is subjected to. You’ll need fewer ceramic coatings if you wash your automobile more frequently and keep it free of the elements.


#1 How can I tell if the ceramic coating is still intact?

To determine if the ceramic coating on your item is still intact, there are a few key indicators to look out for.

  • Notice a lack of distinctive shine: This is a sign that the coating may have worn down over time or been scratched.
  • Try running your fingers along the surface of the item to feel for any rough or bumpy areas.
  • Check for any discoloration.
  • Place a few drops of water if the water spreads out and doesn’t form droplets, it may have penetrated the coating, and the item will need to be recoated.
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#2 How often should I have my car ceramic coated?

Most ceramic coatings should last between 2 to 5 years, however, this timeline can vary depending on how well you maintain your car. It is recommended that you get a professional ceramic coating every 1-2 years, but it is also important to make sure you are regularly wiping down and maintaining the vehicle in order to keep the coating looking its best.

#3 What ruins ceramic coating?

scratches on car paint

Certain activities can cause damage to a ceramic coating, such as:

  • Using harsh chemicals or cleaning products not specifically designed for use on coated surfaces
  • Regular waxing and polishing can reduce the effectiveness of the coating
  • Extreme temperatures and prolonged exposure to UV light can also break down a ceramic coat over time.

#4 How do I care for a car that has ceramic coating?

Proper vehicle maintenance with ceramic coating is key to keeping it looking its best.

Regularly washing and drying the car with gentle soap solutions will help keep dirt and debris off the car, while an occasional clay bar treatment can remove embedded particles that regular cleaning can’t reach.

Using a wax-free sealant can help maintain the shine and integrity of the coating. Avoid using harsh detergents, abrasive cleaners, or polishes, as these may damage the ceramic coating.

It is also important to note that some car washes use high-pressure nozzles which should be avoided.

Finally, avoid dragging objects across a coated surface, as it can cause scratches. If a scratch does occur, you may need to consult a professional detailing technician for repair or reapplication of the ceramic coating.

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#5 What are the disadvantages of ceramic coating?

A ceramic coating is an excellent way to protect your car from the elements and keep it looking like new. However, there are a few drawbacks that should be considered:

  • It is quite costly and requires professional installation, so this may not be the best choice for those on a budget
  • Periodic reapplication of the coating over time is necessary
  • Improper care and maintenance of the coating can lead to premature damage.
  • Not completely impervious to damage

#6 Is ceramic coating worth it?

Ultimately, it depends on the car owner’s needs and budget. Ceramic coating can provide an extra layer of protection that waxes, and sealants cannot offer, as well as enhanced gloss and hydrophobicity.

#7 Where can I get my car ceramic coated?

A professional auto detailing shop is the best place to have your car ceramic coated. A qualified technician will be able to assess your vehicle’s finish and advise on the appropriate type and amount of ceramic coating needed to protect it.

Wrap Up

It is clear that ceramic coating is a hard-wearing and effective method of protecting your car’s paint. With the right protection, you can ensure your car looks its very best for longer. The hydrophobic property ensures that dirt and dust do not settle on the car’s surface, making it easy to clean. You can conduct at-home tests such as water beading or feel the surface of your paintwork to check if you have applied the coating correctly. However, it is always recommended to get professional advice when conducting any work on your vehicle so that you don’t end up doing more harm than good!

Further Reading:

How to Maintain a Ceramic Coated Car

Changing the Game: Ceramic Coatings – NASA