Vehicle Clear Coat: What You Need to Know

vehicle clear coat

Have you noticed that the paint on new cars has improved over the years? Auto manufacturers now use a 2 stage painting system. The first layer is the basecoat, which provides the visual properties like color. The second layer is the vehicle clear coat which is meant to deepen the color of the paint and give it a nice glossy finish. Let’s dive deeper into what the clear coat is and what it does and doesn’t do for your vehicle.

What Is Vehicle Clear Coat?

The vehicle clear coat is the final coat of paint applied to your car, going over the primer and the pigmented paint. It’s a transparent, glossy coating that is meant to enhance the look of your paint and to provide some protection from the environment. How much protection does it really provide, though? The honest answer is: not very much.

Why is a Clear Coat Important?

Your car’s clear coat is an essential part of its longevity and care. Clear coats provide a seal to protect the deeper layers of paint and shield it from the environment. Without a clear coat, these elements will damage your car’s paint over time and leave the metal vulnerable to rust. 

Does The Clear Coat Really Protect Your Car?

The clear coat does provide some level of protection against the environment, specifically when it comes to the sun and its UV rays, but for the most part, it leaves much to be desired. Coming in at only 1.5 – 2 millimeters thick (Thinner than a Post-It Note), clear coats are not very durable and it’s even possible to scratch it with your fingernail. Clear coats simply don’t offer much protection.

While an unprotected clear coat may not cause issues immediately, it can start to crack as it ages causing an ugly issue known as “crazing”. Crazing is a spiderweb-like pattern of cracks in the clear coat, and this pattern can easily spread to the base layer of paint itself. The only solution to this issue is to repaint the car so it’s best to make sure it doesn’t happen in the first place.

As if that weren’t enough, clear coats can also fail as they age. You may have seen cars where the paint appears to be peeling off, this is called clear coat failure and it’s not a very pretty sight. In addition, surface contaminants such as acid rain, bird droppings, bug splatter and industrial debris can cause clear coat finishes to look damaged and faded over time.

Get Better Protection With Ceramic Coatings

Applying a ceramic coating over your clear coat can prevent many of the issues mentioned above from arising. Ceramic coatings work at the nanoscopic level to provide long-lasting protection and are significantly harder, provide more chemical resistance, and are more durable than a standard vehicle clear coat. We advise applying a ceramic coating as soon as possible after delivery of your new vehicle so that the coating is applied to a pristine surface. Leaving the plastic wrapping on the vehicle will provide the best results. If that’s not possible or your car is not new, we prepare the surface for the ceramic coating application so that your new car will benefit from years of protection.

Details Matter carries the best ceramic coating products on the market: Ceramic Pro. Please contact us today to learn more about applying a ceramic coating to your car. We’re located in Melbourne, Florida and serve vehicle owners and auto enthusiasts throughout the region.

This was originally published on October 19, 2017 but has been updated for accuracy and freshness.