Magnifying the fine print on big claims around paintwork protection

Important things you should know before buying into your next car coating solution

Did you ever stop to consider the veracity of claims in the car care market nowadays? As new brands and new vendors emerge to take advantage of the growing trend of long-term paint protection, it is easy to get confused and lost in the sea of offers.

With a range of brands and products that differ very little in terms of their claimed features and benefits, the amount of return or value you get for your investment comes down to choosing the right product for your individual needs.

So a few quick points to keep in mind to help you take cover from potential wasteful spending:

  • What is it really that you’re getting?

    When offered a paint protection system, be sure to find out exactly what is being used on your car. Wax, sealants and coatings can all be considered paint protection in general, and they do arguably provide some form of aesthetic and protective features. Having said that, you don’t want to be paying your car dealer RM2-3k for an off-the-shelf sealant you can buy for less than a hundred ringgit.

    Protection for your paint is important and necessary, but be 100% clear what they are offering you in the first place. We all know by now that wax typically lasts less than a month on a daily driver, especially under our hot and wet climate here in Malaysia. Sealants are a step up and might last up to a year. The rage in the market where things get a little tricky lie in the nano/glass/ceramic/quartz coating category.

    Quartz coatings at the higher end of the segment are technologically advanced formulations that have been proven to lock in the shine and protect the paint against environmental pollutants and light wear and tear from regular use. Having said that, there are also many generic solutions that may contain a much lower concentration of SiO2 that will not have the performance and durability of a high quality product.

  • How long is the product guaranteed to last?

    Aside from advertised durability, when it really comes down to it, how long the coating will last on your car depends on a few factors. Chiefly, the coating needs to be applied by a professional. That’s really why you’re paying a certified detailer to do it in the first place, instead of ordering the product online and slapping it on your vehicle at home. What you don’t see is the many hours of work to correct the paintwork and ensure it is fully prepped before the coating can be applied through another long, tedious process. The best coating in the world is useless if the surface is not in its best possible state prior to the coating stage.

    In 2016, a really good coating should be able to last 3-5 years, while cheaper generic versions will only last a year or two at the most. When a product promises you a very long or sometimes even a lifetime warranty, be sure to go through the fine print as you will very certainly find that it isn’t what it appears to be at face value. In fact, you will discover all forms of warranty exclusions, loop holes, disclaimers and clauses that allow the vendor to bail on their promise to keep your car in pristine condition in years to come.

    Besides, with the lifetime car ownership for most people nowadays hardly reaching 5 years, paying a premium for a ‘lifetime warranty’ coating, regardless if the product is fairly good in itself, just doesn’t make sense for the smart consumer.

So the next time you’re talking to your dealer about paint protection for your brand new car, or checking out some fancy sounding coating solutions at your neighbourhood detailer, remember to be sure what you’re going for, and ask all the questions you need to give yourself a very clear idea of what you’re paying for.