Fixing a Bad Ceramic Coating: Is It Possible?

Ceramic coating is an option that every car owner should consider. The coating protects your paint job from fast degradation and adds a scratch-resistant layer to your car. Still, sometimes things can go wrong with a ceramic coating, but there is always a way to fix your mistakes. 

It’s possible to fix a bad ceramic coating by hand-polishing the imperfection using silicon-based polish. If the ceramic coating has settled for longer than a few hours, you’ll need a polisher to fix it. If the coating has sat for weeks, you’ll need to remove the entire coating and reapply it. 

Ceramic coating is a delicate procedure that can go wrong, leaving your car looking worse than before. Below, I’ll explain how to fix a ceramic coating and teach you how to tell if the coating is bad. I’ll also discuss the causes of imperfect coatings so that you can keep your car looking smooth. 

How Do You Fix Bad Ceramic Coating?

First off, you should fix bad ceramic coating as soon as you notice any imperfection. The longer you let it settle, the harder it gets, making it more complicated to correct. Ideally, you should fix defects with ceramic coating immediately. 

Here’s how you can fix bad ceramic coating:

  • Hand-polish the imperfections as early as possible.
  • Add another layer of coating.
  • Use a polisher.
  • Remove the coating and reapply. 

Read on to discover more about fixing bad ceramic coating using the processes above. 

Hand-Polish the Imperfections As Early as Possible

Applying ceramic coating appears easy. To do so, place a few drops of liquid coating on an applicator, rub it onto the car’s panel, leave for a few minutes, and wipe the excess off with a microfiber cloth. 

You must observe the last step as avoiding it can lead to significant imperfections. 

Hand-polishing will fix messed-up ceramic coating if you notice the imperfection early. 

Common ceramic coating issues include high spots and streaking. High spots occur when you apply too much coating on a particular area on the panel.

High spots reduce the quality of your ceramic coating, making the job look bad. Some high areas are so aggressive that they can be seen and felt. 

A layer will be streaky if you fail to wipe fast enough or apply the ceramic coating in direct sunlight. 

If you choose to ceramic coat your car at home, do it away from direct sunlight to avoid the formation of streaks. Furthermore, use bright LED lights, which won’t affect the paint job, to help you identify high spots as soon as they appear. 

Noticing the high spots or streaks early on will give you enough time to hand-polish the imperfections while the coating is still soft. You only have a few hours before the coating cures beyond the point of hand-polishing. 

All you need to polish out uncured coating is silicon-based polish and a microfiber applicator. Some imperfections will require more effort than others, but hand-polishing will work if the layer is only a few hours old. 

This YouTube video by Ryan of Detail King shows how to fix insufficient ceramic coating by hand-polishing (note that the coating is only a few hours old): 

Add Another Layer of Coating

A high spot is more elevated than the rest of your coating, leaving a raised patch. If the high spot covers most of your car’s panel, you can consider adding another coating layer to match the high spot.

Only consider this option if hand-polishing fails or if you notice the imperfection days after you treat your car with the first ceramic coat.

This method requires a skill level that you should probably leave to a professional.

To fix these pre-cured high spots, professionals add a small coating layer to match the height of an existing layer on the panel. To avoid overdoing it and creating another problem, they only use small amounts of the coating until they get to the level of the high spot.

This method takes patience, precision, and skill, and it’s easy to mess up if you haven’t tried it before. 

Use a Polisher

If the above methods don’t work, it’s time to use a polisher. 

Polishers move faster than human hands, and they can apply more force, making them more effective at fixing imperfect ceramic coatings. They aren’t standard tools in most garages, though. If your car needs a polisher to cure a ceramic coating defect, you’d be better off leaving the rest of the job to a professional detailer. 

Detailers use a silicone-based polish and an electric polishing tool to remove streaks, smudges, and high spots in this process. 

In the hands of an unskilled detailer, a polisher can remove the coating completely. Still, if you’re trying this at home and this happens, don’t worry. All you’ll need to do is reapply the ceramic. 

Remove the Coating and Reapply

You should only pursue this radical step if all else has failed or if it’s been a long time since the ceramic coating happened. 

A polisher using an aggressive compound will remove the ceramic coating. 

You can also opt for chemical removal by using alkaline products to remove the ceramic coating. 

Another available option involves using clay and other products like iron dust remover. Clay alone can’t remove the ceramic coating, so you need to combine it with another more abrasive product. 

High-end professional coatings might require wet sanding to remove. 

Removing the coating should be your last resort option, as it’ll likely damage the paint layer. Furthermore, it’ll cost you a lot of money. 

Unfortunately, it might be your only option. Let a professional remove and reapply the ceramic coating if it gets to this point, as you might not be cut out for the job!

How Can You Tell if Ceramic Coating Is Bad?

A ceramic coating offers plenty of benefits to your car. A poorly applied ceramic coating will provide adequate protection for your paint job, but there’s no point in using paint protection that makes your car look bad. 

Here’s how you can tell if a ceramic coating is bad:

  • Examine the coating.
  • Perform a water test. 

Let’s look at these tests in greater detail together.  

Examine the Coating

Some ceramic coat imperfections are visible to the naked eye. Visible high spots and streaks point to a shoddy ceramic coating application. 

To carefully examine the ceramic coating, you need LED light. The light will help you identify any imperfect spots. 

If you decide to follow a DIY tutorial and apply the ceramic coating at home, I advise that you paint the product on one section of one panel at a time. It’s painstaking work, but it’ll help you identify and rectify imperfections as soon as possible. 

For instance, don’t coat the entire hood before checking on your progress. Divide the hood into sections, coat, and examine before moving on to the next area. 

Perform a Water Test

A common feature of ceramic coatings is they allow water to bead off the car’s body. Watching water bead off a newly coated car is genuinely satisfying. 

Take note of how and if water streaks off your car after coating. The water should roll off in beads without fuss if the detailer coated your vehicle well. 

If beading fails, the coating on your car is more than likely substandard. 

Take note of the beading even when the ceramic coating is done perfectly. Water beading allows you to ensure that your ceramic won’t degrade over time. 

A noticeable loss of gloss will also alert you to a car with fading ceramic coating. 

Ceramic coating manufacturers give approximate timelines about how long a coating should last. Whether it lasts that long or longer depends on how well you take care of the coating. 

What Causes a Bad Ceramic Coating?

Ceramic coating is a delicate process that requires the utmost care. Even experienced detailers can make mistakes leading to poor ceramic coatings. 

The leading causes of a bad ceramic coating are:

  • Poor preparation.
  • Poor application.
  • Use of low-quality products.

Read on as I explain how the above causes lead to a sloppy ceramic coating. 

Poor Preparation

Preparation should take up the bulk of your coating process. 

You need to clean the car, decontaminate the paint, perform claying, and polish the paint before applying any ceramic. This prep work should happen in a room with clear lighting to ensure you get every spot. 

You should also rectify all paint imperfections before coating a vehicle. Contrary to popular myth, a ceramic coating doesn’t correct paint problems

Any problems with the paint will be apparent when you apply a ceramic coating to a car. You’ll be able to see any bumps, chips, and scratches in the paint, even after a thick coat of ceramic. 

So, starting with a clean canvas is the only way to go when adding a new coat to your car. 

Poor Application

Ceramic coating application varies depending on the manufacturer and the chemicals inside the product. 

Furthermore, it needs specific environmental conditions for it to cure evenly. You must follow the application process to the letter if you’re to get it right.

Applying ceramic coating isn’t rocket science, but the chances are you’ll get it wrong the first time and probably the second time too. That’s why most people don’t attempt this at home. 

Use of Low-Quality Products

Don’t be tempted to go for the cheapest ceramic coat available on the market because you think you can apply it yourself. 

Go for the expensive, tried, and tested stuff that requires professional input. 

It’ll cost you more than using a cheap product and applying the coating yourself, but getting the right stuff will guarantee that your car has a smooth, seamlessly applied coating. 

Key Takeaways

  • The method required to fix insufficient ceramic coating depends on how long you’ve left the layer to cure.
  • Immediate inspection of ceramic coating application can help you identify imperfections early. 
  • Adhere to the preparation and application instructions for a perfect ceramic coating application.
  • Choose high-end products and a highly-ranked detailer to avoid a poor ceramic coating. 


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