Welcome to the Complete Guide on how to Ceramic Coat Your Car – 2024 Edition!

There will be a few items to ponder before ceramic coating application; some to do with your preferences, a few concerning the current condition of the subject vehicle, and others that will help chart your course toward results you will be proud of each time you gaze upon your coated vehicle! The following are a few to think about and some thoughts on why they may be relevant:

  • Is your vehicle new and/or what is the condition of the paint?
    • This speaks towards your need (or desire) to do a complete machine polish of your paint. Even on new cars the polishing process will improve the final aesthetics of the vehicle by improving the clarity of the paint in addition to removing any defects. Do you have to polish your paint before applying a coating? Let’s see what Todd has to say: Do you NEED to polish paint before coating?
  • Is your vehicle currently protected by a wax, sealant or ceramic coating?
    • If you are doing a complete machine polish of your vehicle, this becomes a somewhat irrelevant point as the polishing process will be removing any wax, sealant or coating. However, if you are not planning on polishing your paint and have a wax or sealant applied, you will need to remove that as a coating must be applied to clean, bare paint to function properly. How do I easily remove a somewhat durable wax or sealant (including ceramic-infused sealants)? There is indeed an easy way to do that, courtesy of Kamikaze Collection in Japan! Check out this video to learn more: I found this INCREDIBLE detailing product while visiting JAPAN!
    • Are your refreshing or coating a car that had a previous coating installed and wondering how to proceed? Todd has some thoughts (and facts) on that topic as well (Todd happens to know a LOT of useful stuff; bonus points for him really diggin’ Pink Floyd too!): Do I NEED to remove old ceramic coating before applying more?
  • My vehicle has paint Paint Protection Film (PPF), can I still coat it? Will a ceramic coating interfere with the self-healing properties of my PPF?
    • Yes, absolutely! Ceramic + PPF is a great combo!
    • As to a ceramic hindering your PPF’s self-healing capabilities, the answer is no…it will not. How is that possible…I honestly don’t know so I leave the science to the science-guys and just enjoy the benefits! Check out this link for more info: Self Healing PPF – Does Ceramic Coating Matter?
  • Do you have the ability, equipment and/or desire to machine polish your paint?
    • If you’re familiar with that process and have the equipment, you’re good to go. If not, it’s really not that hard given the right tools and resources. An investment in a something like a Rupes Duetto One-Step Polishing Kit and access to our awesome YouTube library of videos on how to polish paint and you can easily (and SAFELY) get the best out of your paintwork prior to applying a ceramic coating.
      • “I’ve never polished or coated a car before. I was really nervous about the outcome. This polishing kit is perfect. It’s very easy to use. I did a one step on my car after washing and claying, and it turned out amazing.” – Jim L
  • Do you have an indoor location to work in?
    • After applying the coating, you’ll want to keep the car dry for 24 hours, including exposing it to morning dew if left outside.  After 24 hours you can drive your car as normal, rain or shine, but generally don’t want to wash it (chemical exposure) for a week.
  • Will your vehicle be a daily driver, a nice-weather-only driver or somewhere in between?
    • This will possibly influence your choice of which coating or combo you may choose. A car that only comes out on sunny weekend days for a short drive doesn’t need the kind of ceramic muscle that a car pounding down the freeways 7 days a week, 365 days a year in a Northeastern Winter climate does. That said, when I had a car completely wrapped with self-healing paint protection film I had it coated with Kamikaze Zipang Coat which itself has some limited swirl-reducing/self-healing capabilities in its formulation. Why, you ask…isn’t that a bit of ‘overkill’?  Well, the heart wants what the heart wants and I wanted the best, hence Zipang! Where favored cars are involved it doesn’t need to be practical, it just has to satisfy! After 20k daily driver miles in Central, OH this combo has proven to be simply outstanding! I thought it would be great having used Zipang before on non-PPF’d cars but I’m truly surprised just how amazingingly this combo has worked.

There may be a few more considerations that arise based upon your personal wants and needs; feel free to contact our Product Support Team via e-mail at sales@esotericcarcare.com, by phone at 614.855.2573 or through our online Contact Form to discuss any questions you may have!

Summary of Steps in a Typical Ceramic Coating Application

  • Give the vehicle a nice, thorough 2-bucket wash.
  • Chemically decontaminate the vehicle with Iron Remover.
  • Mechanically decontaminate the vehicle with an actual clay bar or synthetic clay – Clay & Synthetic Clay is abrasive and will mar the paint; DO NOT mechanically decontaminate the vehicle unless you are machine polishing the paint.
  • Machine polish the paint.
  • Wipe the vehicle down with a panel wipe product like Gyeon Prep to remove any residual polishing oils or contamination.
  • Apply the coating in accordance with product instructions.
  • Sit back and admire your work, being sure to nearly break your arm patting yourself on the back!

Pretty easy, yes? Now get out there and enjoy the Ceramic Coating Lifestyle!


Step-By-Step in Words, Pictures & Videos!

Preparation is the key!

Give the vehicle a nice, thorough 2-bucket wash.

It’s best to start with a clean surface and this video will not only prepare you for your ceramic coating application, it will help build good wash & maintenance habits for AFTER you’ve applied that awesome coating!

Decontamination: Mechanical, Chemical…or both?

If you are machine polishing the paint, go to town with both mechanical & chemical decontamination. If you are NOT polishing the paint, skip the mechanical and just enjoy the lovely scent of a chemical decontamination!

Check out the video for more info…it’s and oldie but a goodie! Awesome information NEVER goes out of style!

Decision Time: Will you be machine polishing the paint?

Machine polishing: YES, indeed!

Here’s where paths MAY diverge if your are not inclined to machine polish the paint. Like nearly everything, proper prep leads to better results. Not only is your surface nearly ready for coating application after paint polishing, you will have also enhanced the color and clarity of your paintwork, even if your car was “Off the truck, brand new”.

With the right tools and techniques (easily obtained from our ESOTERIC Car Care site & extensive YouTube Library) anyone can polish their paint to bring out the true depth of color, remove defects and completely prep the paint for a ceramic coating application. You may even find it soothing and enjoyable!

Machine polishing: NO, I’m happy with the condition of the paint!

Well, fear not…a successful ceramic coating application is well within your grasp thanks to an innovative product from Kamikaze Collection! Check out the video as Todd introduces Kamikaze KMKZ Cleansing, a pH-neutral cleanser designed to safely & gently remove waxes, sealants and water-based emulsion coatings. Work smarter, not harder!

With that out of the way, we're just one step away from actually popping the top on that coating bottle!

One final wipedown to ensure your paint is ready to receive the awesome coating you chose!

Whether you polished your paint or not, it’s best to give the surfaces a final wipedown with a panel wipe product such as Gyeon Prep. It removes any residual polishing oils and other light surface contaminants leaving a squeaky clean surface that’s ready for coating. 

The hard part is done, all that's left is to apply the coating(s). Check out the video to see one of our favorite coatings being applied!

Coating Application

Check out a coating application using our best-selling coating, ISM Coat 3.0 from Kamikaze Collection. Noted for its ease of use, ISM Coat 3.0 can be used on nearly every exterior surface *except* for glass and wheels.

Todd shares some common coating application mistakes and how to avoid them!

To see more of our favorite coatings, check out our recent article What is the Best Ceramic Coating? 2024 Update

Some final thoughts:

Keep the vehicle dry for the next 24 hours and don’t wash with a shampoo for 7 days after application.

If layering coatings such as Kamikaze Miyabi Coat & ISM Coat or Miyabi Coat & Zipang Coat wait an hour or so between each layer and complete all layers within 24hrs.

If using a maintenance product such as Kamikaze Over Coat Liquid, it can be applied as soon as 2-3 hours after the last layer of coating; we prefer to wait until the next morning in the studio or 8-12hrs.

Consult with your coating mfg’s instructions for specific details for your product.

Hopefully you found this article helpful and maybe even a bit inspiring. Should you have any additional questions about any of the products or procedures mentioned or would like to discuss you own detailing project, please reach out to our Product Support staff at any time via e-mail at sales@esotericcarcare.com, by phone at 614.855.2573 or through our online Contact Form.