Ceramic coating vs paint protection film

Hi everyone. I’m getting my dream car this summer and contemplating either installing some PPF or ceramic coating, but almost all my research for it involves Detail Shops selling a product rather than giving a realistic list of pro’s and cons. I imagine it’s very helpful in the grand scheme, but what are some pitfalls of either method?

I plan to detail my car regularly. Is PPF and ceramic coating necessary? Thanks.

10 Answers

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airkewld67 8 months ago

Depends. PPF will/can actually protect your paint against damage like heavier scratches, and scrapes.

You have to have it replaced every so many years. More of a process to install it.

Ceramic coatings will protect your paint again superficial scratches, make the vehicle easier to clean/dry and protect against UV rays and can help to prevent premature paint failure.

Almost all new cars come with already thin clear coat these days. So anything that can help to protect it is a plus.

There are a lot of DIY friendly ceramic coatings on the market

sonofa-liberty 8 months ago

If it’s your ultimate, never get a new car again, dream car, then I think most people here would say at the very least get a ceramic coating. If you can spring the extra cost, would definitely recommend PPF.

Out of curiosity, What kind of car is it? If it’s a civic si, could go either way but if it’s a Porsche GT3, then absolutely get the very best protection you can.

Cons would be obviously the costs. Ceramic coatings are pretty expensive to the average driver and PPFs are even more. ceramic coating needs to be properly cared for. Ie specific products and cleaning methods and not just a dirty rag and a bucket of dawn soap. It’s not a set and forget thing. It would also need to be reapplied every few years. PPF is more durable but also not invincible. Would also recommend specific wash methods but products such as reload are not required but may still help.

Pros are they take the brunt of the damage that your paint would otherwise take on And can be removed and replaced if some damage occurs. Again, PPF can withstand significantly more before needing reapplication than a ceramic coating but again, not invincible.

Mike01Hawk 8 months ago

I got Xpel front leading edges (Full front bumper, hood, pillars, side mirrors, lower rockers), basically everything except doors, trunk, and rear bumper done on my Model 3 for ~$1,700 if I recall correctly.

Anti-PPF folks will say I could have gotten my front resprayed down the road for that amount of money. Sure but 1) Any rock chip/nick would bug my OCD 2) I don’t wanna have to deal with future body shop issues, down time, color not matching, having to get a rental, etc etc.

I for sure would make sure that they do full tuck and no exposed lines if you can, it’ll be more but man all the lines stick out like sore thumbs on my Pearl White when they are dirty 🙁

Skip ceramic and go DIY with a decent sealant / topper wax.

d0rito5 8 months ago

I think PPF costs too much for what it offers, unless you have a super rare car where keeping all original paint is going to be very important for resale. I just run my cars without it and if they get pitted or scratched, I can have very high end paintwork done for quite a bit less than what the PPF would have cost.

Ceramic coatings I think are worth it if you really want your car looking its best without putting in much maintenance effort. They make cleaning much easier and offer a sacrificial layer for small scratches.

I corrected and coated my Dad’s truck 6 months ago. He parks it outside, but it still absolutely beams after a wash. His cousin bought a nearly identical truck (no coating) around the same time (same make/model/color) and it’s covered in swirls and looks much duller.

BudgetPlan1 8 months ago

Do paint chips bother you to the point of diminishing your enjoyment of the car whether that enjoyment is driving it or just looking at it in your garage? If so PPF is the answer.

Do you like a clean car but don’t really like cleaning cars? If so, ceramic will help.

If either/both fits into your budget, it’s really that simple.

TortelliniTortellini 8 months ago

I ran through the math on my Audi (look at my post history) but basically, in my opinion, PPF and ceramic professional installs are prohibitively expensive and can amount to 5 – 10% of the purchase price of the car, upfront!

If you use that amount of money and set it aside for professional detailing once a month, and paint correction every few years – it should carry you for like 7 years.

In my opinion, it is not worth it although it is a very popular thing to do for car enthusiasts.

LegendaryOutlaw 8 months ago

It’s really all about protecting your investment and prolonging the quality of your paint. A ceramic coating will go a long way towards protecting your surface from swirls, water spots, minor blemishes. It also makes cleaning the car easier, as water beads up and slides off, and contaminants and dirt have a hard time clinging on between washes.

It’s essentially a very hard shell on top of your clearcoat. I get compliments on how shiny my car looks, even when it’s been a couple of weeks since I washed it, because the ceramic increases the gloss and helps it stay looking cleaner longer.

I hand wash my car regularly, and even now, 18 months after my ceramic coating, I have nary a swirl mark anywhere. Even very careful washes will eventually leave swirls on unprotected clear coats.

As for PPF, I had the most vulnerable parts of my car wrapped with PPF, because wrapping the whole car was just too expensive. I had my front bumper, hood, headlights, and side mirror caps done. Those are the parts most likely to get rock chips and damage from daily driving. Is it necessary? Probably not, cars are going to get damage over time. But I plan to keep my car for a long time, and I take pride in how my car looks, so this was an investment in keeping it looking as good as possible for as long as possible.

Congrats on your Tesla, from another Tesla owner. 😉

Drive4real 8 months ago

I’ve used PPF and ceramic and to be honest the PPF will work very good for rock chips. The ceramic looks better on the paint. The PPF is better protection but I have never removed it to see what it does to the paint. Now is it necessary is the question. Even if your detailing on a regular basis its the rock chips and scratches that the ceramic and PPF will help the most. Once again its your preference on protection and looks. Good luck and hope you get an option that works for you.

SenorMoFoJones 8 months ago

My two cents. Get the ppf and do a ceramic coating yourself. The ppf is FAR more valuable to the lasting appearance of your car than a coating is, and ppf is extremely difficult to do yourself.
If the car is your dream car, ppf will immediately show its worth when the first would’ve been rock chip without ppf hits your car.
And if you plan on detailing it regularly, then learning how to ceramic coat a new car will be a fun experience and an entry point into the detailing hobby

Rimworldjobs 8 months ago

Well we have to know what your dream car is now lol

tehFluffyBoi 8 months ago

you dont HAVE to do any of those, its all up to you

PPF will protect against flying rocks and stuff that will chip/scratch your paint

ceramic coating will make dirt and oils not stick to your paint and make your car easier to clean

juancuneo 8 months ago

I got a ceramic coating on a new X5. I love it. Paint still looks perfect. But it’s a bitch to maintain. Can’t take it to a car wash and takes me a couple hours to hand wash it.

gc1 8 months ago

What’s the going rate on these procedures?

schai 8 months ago

I put PPF on my Tesla’s entire front (bumper, hood, fenders) and the rocker panels. If I were to do it again, I would only do the bumper and rockers, those get the most wear for sure. The bumper especially since it’s such a large surface on the Tesla. This will substantially reduce your costs. Depending on your location, bumper should be about 600-800, and rocker should be like 300? Not sure if prices have changed since I got mine done. It’s certainly good peace of mind that your car is protected from most small-medium dings.

EDIT: Don’t cheap out on the shop. Find a reputable one, you get what you pay for.

TheXenochrist 8 months ago

I work at a shop that sell Ppf/ceramic coating. And honestly if you plan on keeping the Model Y for a while get is PPF’d. Lots of our customer do the full vehicle but that is a bit overkill. I would recommend getting at least the full front end done.

As for ceramic coating, that’s really up to you. I would rather detail my car myself and apply a spray sealant on every once and a while.

RyanGsvt 8 months ago

The real question here is, do you really want to protect your investment or not? If this is your dream ride, treat it as such. Both have pros and cons but they are both ways to protect your investment.

I’ve had ceramic or ppf on all my cars. PPF is a better option on true paint protection. I think PPF takes away some of the sharpness of light reflection and makes a bit of a glow. PPF that doesn’t wrap around edges, will leave dirty lines that stand out, so make sure the installer wraps the edges.

Ceramic is great when the prep work before hand is top notch. Easy to clean. Easy to maintain. Retains the sharp reflection of a smooth clear coat. Provides some paint protection, mainly against superficial swirls. It’ll be cheaper than doing a full ppf wrap. And it’s easily reapplied later.

bigmacman40879 8 months ago

Cost wise it is probably not worth it for most people. But you are on a car enthusiast-type subreddit, so you may not be like ‘most’ people.

If you are the type of person that notices paint-chips and paint defects, PPF is probably worth it for you.

Ceramic coating is nice to have and pretty easy to apply yourself. It will make detailing the car much easier.

My non-expert opinion is this: Skip the PPF unless paint defects will bother you. Apply ceramic coating yourself every year or two.

Neither are necessary to detail your car.

dynobot7 8 months ago

PPFs also get brittle in cold temps so rocks could chip through it and pit your paint. Especially if you live in the snow belt.

Brendyn00 8 months ago

Ceramic coating is a no brainer for how cheap they are in my opinion. The product I use is a professional 5 year and is $80 for a bottle to do 2 cars.

YngKong24 8 months ago

I had PPF put on that last 10 yrs with warranty. Now, Im the type to find a scratch or chip and it pisses me off for 6 months lol. If you want peace of mind for rock chips, general abrasions then ppf is the way to go. If you want EXTRA protection go with ppf and a ceramic coat over top.

Most places will/should do a paint correction prior to placing ppf on too.

I should note, I didn’t do the entire car but I want to at some point. I opted to get full front (a-frame included on sides of windshield), a strip across roof, all along door panels and bumper area, door handles, ( all these are aka high impact areas). I still hate when stuff flies up but I know 90% of car is protected.

Redditornothereicumm 8 months ago

What climate do you live in?

OneTomboNation 8 months ago

Have had a Miata living on the streets of a really crowded part of Brooklyn for 8 months that I PPF’d in May. It still looks brand new and ive watched it get rubbed and scratched. Ceramic is cool, but PPF does everything that does and way better.

North-One8187 8 months ago

Just saw a video today. Brand new 2022 bmw black pain with what looked like a pretty good side swipe that left marks all along the side. The PPF came off and it looked good as new. If you’re putting a good amount of money into this car it is definitely worth spending a little extra

ygguana 8 months ago

“Need” is a personal judgement on your tolerance level for paint damage. I swear by XPEL PPF personally. I hate rock chips and scratches. After 5 years my car looks new after I wash it. The PPF doesn’t – at least to me – make it noticeably easier to wash, but it is very good against highway driving chips and also randos dragging their crap across your paint (like in a parking lot).

90NA 8 months ago

It’s a good idea in theory but I couldn’t justify the cost for myself. I keep my car in a garage overnight and on my commute I just keep plenty of space between me and the car in front, haven’t had any rock chips or issues yet. I drive 50 miles one way on the highway to work everyday.

[deleted] 8 months ago

PPF tech has come a long way even in the past few years. Properly applied, I’ve seen it last upwards of 4 years and will certainly protect against heavier rock chips and paint etching.

Well worth the 1-3k if you’re buying new.

PartTimeDuneWizard 8 months ago

PPF absolutely. At least in critical spots that would see rocks or shit. Ceramic coating, no. If you do it all really good once and keep up on applying a topper in subsequent maintenance washes, that will be more than adequate and you should only have to seriously go at it again every year or two (YMMV of course on location and amount driven) Semi-permanent coatings imo are for people that don’t wash their cars often or don’t wash them well.

dgolia1 8 months ago

On just a Tesla? Probably not worth it. Take the 10k this is gonna cost and put it in your pocket for other life adventures or a fun second car

bummelsp4449 8 months ago

One thing to consider here is that unless it’s from a super high-end car manufacturer, there’s a good chance that the paint is far from perfect with orange peel, minor scratches, etc. And PPF is very expensive, $7000 or $8000 last I checked, which is getting awfully close to the price of a new paint job. So essentially you’re paying the price of a new paint job to protect an imperfect paint job.

So if you’re happy with the factory paint, then PPF is the best way to protect it. Otherwise, I’d recommend getting a ceramic coating since they’re less than half the price, then consider a new paint job down the line that’s as close to perfect as possible.

weedpal 8 months ago

Ceramic Coat is fine. Just do it yourself to save lots of money or skip that tedious process and just use a turtle wax ceramic spray after every wash.

PPF is an expensive waste of money that doesn’t age well and look “dull plasticky”.

A couple rock chips is normal wear and tear. Repaint your front bumper in 10 years rather than needing to reapply PPF several times.

[deleted] 8 months ago


PayNo3145 8 months ago

in a word; no

dashmesh 8 months ago

do i really need a wife?

melikefood123 8 months ago

I’m not a pro by any measure but have heard of ceramic coatings getting etched from water drops and harsh sun. I could be wrong.

I personally use an acrylic “Klasse SG” seal on my black ISF. Its tough and pretty darn glossy. I’m bored this winter (thanks covid) so have been doing cut/polish, 3 coats Klasse and then 1 coat P21S caranuba wax. I’ve used this combo, for god, 20 years or so now on various cars. Everyone has their special sauce but this works darn good for me and my expectations.






scottwax 8 months ago

PPF and a warranty level ceramic coating will make taking care of your car much easier giving you more time to drive and enjoy it..

I detail for a living and I coated my own cars despite being more than able to detail them regularly. Rather detail the exterior really good once, coat it and then I only have to wash my cars.

RandyFeFiBobandy 8 months ago

I got Ceramic Pro and Suntek PPF installed when I got my car. The ceramic pro coating is cool and makes cleaning a little easier but I was underwhelmed with it overall. Water will bead like crazy on it but if the car isn’t moving it will dry and leave spots for every bead.

The PPF on the front end (bumper, hood, side mirrors) is amazing. It has certainly saved me from having a lot of rock chips since it’s my daily driver. I have 2 chips on the unprotected a pillar and 2 more above the windshield so the PPF is money we’ll spent in my book.

The PPF also allows me the be a little more aggressive when removing dead bugs and such on the front end than I’d be if it was on the paint.

karmareincarnation 8 months ago

For me it’s simple. I hate rock chips and I always get them because a good portion of my driving is on the interstate. Therefore, I’d always choose to do PPF on a new car.

The other option is to wait till things get bad and then apply Dr. Colorchip over all of the chips. Dr. Colorchip won’t make things 100% but it’s generally good enough.

Ceramic coating is something you can wait to do, but yeah, I’d opt for ceramic coating over wax or sealant because it’s quite simply superior. Ceramic coating can be a DIY project, if you have the desire to do it yourself and save some money.

PM_ME_HOUSE_MUSIC_ 8 months ago

If it’s your dream car I would at least recommend investing in a ceramic coat. I don’t really see why you wouldn’t, unless you honestly just don’t care about your paint.

There are a few great options out there that are extremely user friendly. I would recommend having your car professional paint corrected before ceramic coating it though. For reference I paid $500 for a full 2 stage paint correction on my Subaru a few years back. Then I did the ceramic coat myself for $50. So $550 all said and done. Coating is still intact 2+ years later.

If you do a lot of driving then I’d recommend a full front PPF. Has saved me a few times from getting some bad rock chips. I had a full front PPF & paint correction done on my Audi for $2200. Then I ceramic coated the car myself for $50. This wasn’t cheap but I put a lot of miles on this car and it made sense for me to do it.

In the end it comes down to you and what your planning on using the car for/ how much you care about the condition of your paint. If it’s just a weekend car, a ceramic coat would do just fine. If it’s going to be a daily, full front PPF might be the better route. I hope some of this was helpful!

300C 8 months ago

I have a ceramic coating on my ford explorer and when it snows there is noticeably less snow to clean off. Kinda nice for me. Plus much easier to just blow off 90% of the water so I touch the paint less with the towel – which is where swirling and scratching usually occurs.

abbarach 8 months ago

I bought a new car about 3.5 years ago. After I got it home I did a very light polish, then at-home ceramic coating, then took it in and had front PPF done (basically front bumper, leading edge of the hood, and mirror caps).

The car is nothing special, but I tend to keep my cars for at least 10 years. And on my last car I got tired of all the little nicks and rock chips that the front accumulated. The PPF has kept the front end in good shape. I’m starting to see signs that the ceramic is wearing off, so this spring I’ll go back through the prep process and apply another layer. I’ve been happy with both the PPF and the coating to this point.

Biggest downside to me is the cost. PPF done well isn’t cheap, even with a limited scope like I had done. The film mostly disappears, but at extreme angles to the edge (like looking down along the edge) you can see the edge of the film. It also doesn’t have an infinite lifetime; I believe the shop told me mine was warranted for 7 years, so eventually I may have to have it removed (and re-done, if wanted).

For a non-self-applied coating, the warranty for some requires certain maintenance work/top-up services, so there may be ongoing costs to have those done. And ceramic needs to be applied to clean, pretty paint, so there is some more prep-work and associated cost, although missy shops bundle it all into the application package.

lion_index 8 months ago


Eddiexx 8 months ago

If you are going to keep the car forever then sure or it is super expensive car and will appreciate in the future then sure. If you change cars 3-4 years. It is not worth it from money point of view. However if you are OCD about ur paint and you can afford it then sure. Personally, I change my car 2-3 years and there’s no point for me to apply PPF that’s going to cost me $3000+ and may not even add value when it is time to sell my car. Might as well save it for a nice holiday with my wife. I personally don’t care that much about paint, I do coat my car but DIY only.

gigabyte2d 8 months ago

What car is it? And do you plan to have PPF on the whole car or just the front? Some people they’d only do it if it’s a car of 80k+ since the price of PPF is so steep and it wouldn’t be worth it otherwise. I did full PPF on the entire car on my miata and it has been almost 2 years. It did not fade but because my car is white, it does build up dirts on the edges that are visible. But overall, my car is still looking brand new and I do wash it at least once a month. I did not bother with ceramic coating since PPF already keep it pretty clean already, I just apply sealant if I want it to shine even more.

MegaMindxXx 8 months ago

PPF and ceramic coating are 2 very different things. PPF offers better protection especially against rock chips and scratches. Ceramic coating though lasts years if applied properly and is simple enough to apply yourself. There are good YouTube videos on applying ceramic coating. You can buy the ceramic fairly cheap. I’ve used the $12 ceramic from Amazon with great results. Name brands will cost you closer to $80. The PPF will cost a lot depending on how much of the car you get covered.

PlayerFromHimalaya 8 months ago

Do you NEED it? No. Millions of cars have existed for decades without it just fine

mojonito 8 months ago

I still got chips and dings from f
Road debris with expel ppf. I will just treat chips in the future with dr chip

Mysterious_AD5342 7 months ago

I think ceramic coating is definitely the better choice. My car has a few botched paint jobs done with obvious swirls and water spots. I switched over to JR Auto Centre and their experts explained in detail how ceramic coating protects the car from deteriorating in the long run and adds a glossiness and better colour depth to it.

RachelfromOhio 7 months ago

Damn I have done more reading on ceramic coating then I did studying for any test in college lol. Looking at my 6 yr old non coated car the main scratch marks are areas that would’ve damaged ppf anyways (getting side swiped), scraping the tail end etc. Otherwise after an automated wash my suv looks pretty damn good for never having polished or waxed once ever 😅now my
New Ram limited I’m undecided. Since I will prob still auto wash will prob not get anything done and upgrade to new truck in 5 years 🤷🏽‍♀️so much money saved

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