Polishing a Ceramic Coated Car – Here Is What Will Happen

Applying a ceramic coating to a car is an excellent way to offer the paint some added protection. However, since ceramic coating is a relatively new addition to vehicles, people are often confused about how best to care for them. For instance, can you apply polish to a ceramic-coated car? 

Polishing a ceramic-coated car will remove the layer of ceramic coating. The abrasive properties of polish will strip away ceramic layers and cause the coating to fall off. If you apply polish to your vehicle, you will need to reapply ceramic coating to repair the damage. 

Keep reading this article to learn more about ceramic coating and what happens if you polish it. I will also explore the finishes you can use to make your ceramic coating shine and teach you some other ways of keeping it from damaging your ceramic coatings. So, let’s talk about it!

Can Ceramic Coating Be Polished?

If your car does not have a ceramic coating, you can apply polish to repair minor scratches and imperfections in the car’s paint. However, when your vehicle has a ceramic coating, it has different maintenance requirements. So, can you use polish to repair scratches on ceramic-coated cars? 

Ceramic coating can not be polished without causing extensive damage to the layer. The polish properties cause the ceramic coating to break apart and fall from your car. This effectively renders the ceramic coating useless. To ensure that your ceramic coating remains strong, avoid using polish. 

Polish removes any layers or rough spots from your car’s top layers of paint. When your paint coat is not perfect, polishing can scratch away uneven patches and smooth the paint out. However, polish is too rough to use on ceramic. 

The polish removes the protective ceramic coating layer from the car. 

 Any car polish is pretty much guaranteed to remove the ceramic coating from your car entirely. That’s why many high-quality ceramic coating manufacturers recommend using polish to remove ceramic coatings. 

So, polish is only helpful for ceramic coating if you want to remove the protective layer from your car entirely. 

Removing ceramic coatings is difficult if you don’t use the right tools or equipment. 

Ceramic coatings need to be removed when improperly installed or after a few years when they start to degrade. In these instances, using polish to remove the ceramic coatings is effective. 

How Can I Make My Ceramic Coating Shine?

Now you know that polishing your ceramic coating is off the table, it’s time to look into what you can use to maintain your ceramic-coated car. Can you use other everyday car care products like wax, or do you have to invest in specialized products to help make your ceramic coating look its best? 

Here are some steps that you can follow to make your ceramic coating shine: 

  • Wash using the 2-bucket method. 
  • Avoid washing in sunlight. 
  • Use a pH-neutral car shampoo. 
  • Wash from top to bottom. 
  • Apply a ceramic coating maintenance spray. 
  • Use the appropriate towel to dry after washing.

See below for a breakdown of the points stated above. 

Wash Using the 2-Bucket Method

The two bucket method is best for washing ceramic-coated cars. 

This method requires one bucket of water for washing the car and the second bucket of water for rinsing the sponge or cloth you wash the vehicle with. 

Using separate containers ensures that any dirt or dust remains in the second bucket, and only clean water free from contaminants is used on the car. 

Washing a ceramic-coated car using only one bucket will allow dirt to remain in the cloth. This dirt will then scratch and degrade the ceramic coating if rubbed across the surface. Therefore, adding a second bucket to collect excess dirt from the cloth reduces this risk of accidentally damaging the ceramic. 

You should wash ceramic-coated cars about once every two weeks using this method. Keeping ceramic clean is essential in maintaining the finish and making the ceramic coating shine. 

Avoid Washing in Sunlight

Ceramic-coated cars will lose their shine if washed in direct sunlight. 

Washing ceramic coating in direct sunlight will cause watermarks and swirl marks to appear on the vehicle’s surface. So, washing the ceramic-coated car in the shade or indoors reduces this risk and ensures a shiny finish. 

Use a pH-Neutral Car Shampoo 

Harsh soaps and other car shampoos often have a high pH. 

Chemicals with either a very high or very low pH can damage the ceramic coating on your car and cause streaks to appear. So, it would be best to use a pH-neutral car shampoo that will help your coating shine without causing harm. 

Curious to learn more?
Click here for other articles you will like!

Wash From Top to Bottom

When washing your ceramic-coated vehicle, you must clean the top of the car first and work your way down. 

Be sure to rinse each section of the car after washing. Doing so will remove dirt and dust as ceramic coatings are hydrophobic and repel water quickly. As a result, rinsing with water after washing will allow dirt and dust to mix with the water, then fall off the car immediately. 

Apply a Ceramic Coating Maintenance Spray 

There are some specialized products that you can buy to use on your ceramic-coated car. 

Ceramic coating maintenance spray helps you keep your ceramic coatings solid and shiny for years to come. In addition to protecting your car from scratches and chipping, it will offer an extra layer of UV protection, helping keep your ceramic coating solid and beautiful. 

You’ll need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using ceramic coating maintenance spray since each differs in application and potency. 

Use the Appropriate Towel To Dry After Washing 

One of the aspects that people often overlook when washing a ceramic-coated car is drying.

If you don’t dry your ceramic coating effectively, the water beads will sit on the surface and form swirl marks, droplet spots, or streaks. You can prevent these marks by drying the car with a towel after cleaning. 

However, using the wrong towel may damage the ceramic coating underneath, or it may not absorb enough of the water, causing marks to appear on the coating. You will need a towel specifically designed for drying at least 20 x 30 inches (50- 76 cm) in size. The towel will also need a high GSM, ideally above 800

So, I usually use a microfiber towel or some of those special high-density car cleaning cloths that feel a bit like suede. These softer towels will pull off stuck-on dirt and streaking, making them perfect for ceramic coating cleanings. 

Can You Polish Before Adding Ceramic Coating? 

By this stage, you are well aware that applying polish to a ceramic-coated car is a bad idea unless you wish to remove the ceramic coating. However, I have yet to discuss whether you can use polish on the paint before applying a ceramic coating. 

You must apply polish to a car’s paint before adding a ceramic coating. Applying polish before adding any ceramic will restore imperfections in the paint and help to remove scratches, ensuring that your coating looks smooth and seamless. 

However, once the ceramic coating is on your vehicle, you should not apply polish as it will damage the coating. 

While ceramic coatings offer your car an excellent layer of protection, any scratches or marks visible before adding ceramic coating will likely be visible after applying the ceramic coating. Once the ceramic coating has been set, it’s a tough job to remove any marks underneath without removing the layer entirely. 

Therefore it’s recommended that you always apply polish to the paint on your car before applying a ceramic coating. Doing so will give your car’s paint a shiny finish with little to no visible scratches or marks. 

Polishing the car before ceramic coating will also give the car paint a shine that will be locked in and protected by the ceramic coating. So polish your paint, but never polish ceramic. 

Does Clay Bar Remove Ceramic Coating? 

I have already discussed at some length how polish can strip away ceramic coatings from a car. However, I have yet to mention whether other common car paint treatments can cause ceramic coatings to deteriorate.

One standard car treatment is a clay bar, but will this harm your ceramic-coated car? 

You cannot use a clay bar when maintaining your ceramic-coated car.

Clay bars will damage the ceramic coating and cause it to break down. Clay bars may also cause swirl marks to appear in the ceramic, or they could strip off the ceramic coating entirely when you apply one.

The abrasive nature of a clay bar can cause the ceramic coating to fall apart or break down. Therefore, using clay bars to maintain a ceramic-coated car is a sure-fire way of ruining the ceramic coating and leaving the paint underneath exposed. 

Key Takeaways

  • Applying polish to ceramic coatings will remove the ceramic coating. 
  • You need to wash a ceramic-coated vehicle with water and mild soap. 
  • The ceramic coating should be washed about twice per month using the two bucket method. 
  • Ceramic coating maintenance spray can help your coating shine. 
  • Before applying a ceramic coating, polishing can enhance the finish and remove perfections in the paint. 


Jan-Lucas Ganssauge
Jan-Lucas Ganssauge