Ceramic coating: An investment in your Porsche
Monday, October 23, 2017
My first Porsche was a 2009 Cayman dressed in Midnight Blue Metallic — dark as a starless sky and absolutely stunning on delivery. I never thought a car could look that good, but keeping it that way presented a real challenge. I barely got my new car home from the dealer and into the garage before dust and dirt began to accumulate on every surface.
I am certainly not as fussy as some owners when it comes to keeping their car pristine, largely because my Porsches have always been daily drivers. But I do take pride in how they look, so my detail travel kit is always on hand. Frankly, it needed to be. After trading my beloved Cayman for a white Macan S, I promised myself I would never get a dark color again.
With two years on the Macan, the lure of another mid-engine Porsche brought me back to the showroom kicking the tires of the 718 variant. I was leaning toward white or silver since it proved to be easier to keep it clean looking. Lighter cars tend to be much less noticeable when dirty, especially at more than a few feet away. But some Porsches beg for dark and more seductive colors, so I agonized over paint pigments.
I sat in the showroom shaking my head as Erik (my Porsche Product Specialist) did his best to convince me to drive off in one of two black Caymans he had on the lot. They were similarly equipped, and I would have been satisfied with either had it not been for my struggle with color.
But in the last hour of the transaction, Erik tossed in Ceramic Coating as an added incentive. The deal was done.
I'd heard really good things about ceramic protective veneer — one particular recommendation was from a friend who told me that brake dust could be power-washed off ceramic treated alloy wheels without otherwise touching them. My most recent defense against filth on the four corners had been black rims. So this accounting from him convinced me that I could consider a black 718.
It's really only been a few years that ceramic coating has been available for cars. Nanoceramic protection — as it's referred to in the industry — is multi-layerable and is often applied in several successive coats to enhance its protective properties. When applied correctly and allowed to cure, a liquid polymer chemically bonds to exterior automotive surfaces.
It is semi-permanent in that you do not have to continually reapply over time as you do with natural waxes or synthetics that begin to fade almost immediately after application. Depending on environmental conditions, ceramic coating can last several years and maintain a deep and glossy reflection that rivals the best that carnauba can ever offer.
But other less obvious benefits are attained as well — protection from UV damage and oxidation, and resistance to chemical stains, scratches and parking lot nicks that can appear anytime you leave your Porsche unsupervised. Ceramic coating is also hydrophobic — it repels and beads up water as an intrinsic property.
Is ceramic coating better than paint protection film? Well, that depends on what you're looking for. Protective films are more durable and self-healing by design. So if you're looking to deflect flying gravel or a runaway shopping cart, you might consider paint protection film as a better alternative. On the flip side, film wraps don't have the glossy reflective properties that you'll find in ceramic coating and can yellow as they age.
My considerations were focused on great looks and basic protection, as well as minimizing detailing efforts on a car that would begin it's descent into filth the moment I put away my cleaning supplies. It seemed to me that paint protection film was a more expensive alternative that really didn't satisfy those requirements, and to protect the entire car would be far more expensive.
Can you apply ceramic coating yourself? It's perhaps easier than installing protective film, but paint correction and preparation are crucial to the end result. My black-on-black 718 Cayman spent several weeks in shipping and transfer, and then many weeks more on the dealer lot. Plenty of time to collect impurities that must be removed before application.
The real beauty of ceramic coating is in its permanence — layering a protection product over dust, chemicals and other wayward contaminants would be counterintuitive. The risk of preparing the paint on my own in an environment full of these ingredients was too much for my tolerance level. And since I received the treatment at a no-cost option, why wouldn't I accept their offer?
My Porsche dealer maintains a separate vehicle preparation warehouse facility that is designed for this and other purposes — furnished with the most modern lighting equipment available and a staff that performs these procedures full-time. I was already familiar with their work, and there are some things best left to professionals.
Erik suggested I enjoy my Cayman over the weekend until the following week since the shop was booked with other appointments. I dropped it off as planned, with the intent of picking it up in a few days. The process can actually be completed in a single day and then left to set overnight, but I preferred not to rush the process. There was a fair amount of paint correction needed — typical of black and other dark colors.
Day three arrived, and I drove the loaner from my office out to the facility to pick up my Porsche. I got there after closing time, and Mike (who manages the warehouse) met me in their stunning customer lounge. We talked a bit about general care and the "less-is-more" philosophy of keeping a treated car clean. Rinsing with a hose is usually enough, but no more than a speed-shine product is ever required.
We walked out to the back of the facility, and Mike flipped on the lights as I approached my illuminated Cayman as one would a painting in a museum. We had been talking about the warranty and care, so I hadn't properly prepared myself for a subdued unveiling. I caught myself suddenly and then walked around my 718 as if I were judging a Concours d'Elegance.
I'm not sure that I'd ever seen a car in better than new condition. The depth of my image in the seductive reflection was incredible — I could have shaved with a straight razor and not suffered so much as a nick. I know how to spot imperfections in a finish with a detailer's light, but I struggled to find even the common water spot or paint hazing in the exquisite finish.
And now after a few months of ownership, I can tell you that I would have paid for this option myself without hesitation. The surface is still as slick as machine oil and remains as glossy as it was when I left the warehouse. I would have otherwise detailed it twice or more in the same timeframe, yet all I've done so far is hose it off and apply my favorite speed-shine product before a car show last weekend.
The errant bird deposit or tree sap dribble is removed easily with a quick blast of cleaner and a wipe of a detailing towel. When I drive in the rain, I can watch as the sheets of wet sweep over my Cayman as if in a hurry to find something else to settle on. Water beads up on the surfaces in tight little circles — the truest mark of repellent for any detailer.
I could not be more pleased with the product or application and wished it had been available when I slaved to put the same shine on my first Cayman. Porsche or Honda, every car I purchase going forward will be enhanced with this option.
And considering that the cost is similar to what you might pay for gap or tire and wheel insurance, ceramic coating may just be one of the best investments for your Porsche.
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