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  • Writer's pictureEco Car Spa

Why Factory Clear Coats Aren't Enough

The majority of cars being manufactured today use a basecoat/clear coat paint system. The basecoat is the pigmented layer that provides the color for the exterior of your vehicle. The basecoat doesn't offer any gloss or shine and is dull or matte looking after it's sprayed. Same idea applies to the touch-up paint that often comes with new vehicles. While it can provide the color if a scratch is severe enough, it will not have the same shine as the rest of the vehicle and can often be quite noticeable if overused!

The clear coat is a clear layer of paint that is sprayed on top of the basecoat. The clear coat helps protect the paint beneath it from minor wear and tear as well as fading and oxidizing from the sun’s UV rays. Your vehicle gets it's gloss, shine, depth, and reflectivity from the layer of clear coat on top of the color.


The advantage of the clear coat is that light to moderate scratches can be buffed (polished/compounded) out and not affect the paint below eliminating the need for touch-up paint. However, each time you polish or compound the clear coat you are in essence removing the damaged part of the clear coat; resulting in a slightly thinner clear coat on the exterior. When the scratch is too deep, however, it scratches the actual paint and that is when touch-up paint can be useful. The problem with the factory clear coat is that, not only, is it a minor layer of protection, but it also has the tendency to fade and wear out over time if not properly cared for.

The factory clear coat on a new or (post 1980) car measures approximately 2 mils thick (meaning 0.002 inches); the average Post-it Note is around 3 mils thick. In other words, while the clear coat does provide some protection to the basecoat paint, there is definitely room to add additional protection to your vehicle. Adding additional protection can save you money and retain the value of your vehicle in the long run.

If you remove too much clear coat when buffing/polishing and you expose the basecoat it will appear to be a dull round or oval spot on a body panel. The part of the paint system that adds beauty has been removed revealing the dull or matte basecoat layer of paint. This is why you should only attempt, or trust someone else, to polish/buff the exterior only if trained properly.

Protecting Your Vehicle's Finish

Advances in technology have brought about new types of protection that are more durable in the environment and last longer than the typical 4-6 weeks of traditional wax. Sealants can provide 6 months up to 1 year of protection.

The next level of protection with the most durable and longest lasting results are ceramic coatings. This is a semi-permanent coating that is applied to the vehicle that bonds with the clear coat to form a hard layer of protection around your vehicle’s exterior. The ceramic coating provides protection to your vehicle's paint including added UV protection preventing oxidation, water spots, bird bombs, and additional protection against scratches. If the coating does get scratch it can be polished out and the coating can be reapplied. The result is the original factory clear coat is intact and untouched. Ceramic coatings can provide protection for the lifetime of your vehicle if properly cared for and maintained with reapplications every few years.

Eco Car Spa's Options for Protection

Ceramic Spray Sealant

  • Included in ALL of our wash and detail packages (except Exclusive Premium Detail)

  • Provides protection to the entire exterior of your vehicle including wheels, paint, trim, & glass

  • Protection that lasts 2-3 months, 2-3 times longer than traditional wax

  • Protects your vehicle from road grime, bugs, rain, and other environmental factors

  • Extremely glossy shine and hydrophobic, water beads and runs off the vehicle and windshield

  • Great as a enhancer/booster to a ceramic coated vehicle

Polymer Paint Sealant

  • Included in our Exclusive Detail, also available as an add on to any exterior detail service

  • More durable and longer lasting than our Ceramic Spray Sealant, provides protection that lasts 6 months to 1 yr

  • Machine applied blend of polymers that interlock across the paint

  • Locks out environmental contaminants and UV rays to protect your clear coat

  • Provides high shine and slick feeling; hydrophobic

Ceramic Coatings

  • We offer Ceramic coatings that last 2yrs or 5yrs, real long term protection from the environmental contaminants and UV rays

  • Applied to all exterior surfaces, including paint, wheels, trim, and glass; an added value as many detailers charge additional for wheels, trim, and or glass

  • Forms a semi-permanent bond with the paint

  • Provides UV protection to all surfaces and resists scratching

  • Light to medium scratches don't penetrate through the coating leaving your vehicles clear coat protected and in new condition

  • Hydrophobic resulting in your vehicle looking better and staying cleaner longer

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