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Keeping that Show Wining Shine

Nano Ceramic Real World Test

Maintaining that factory fresh shine to our beloved toys ranks very high on the to-do lists of every Corvette enthusiast. There are hundreds of products for sale that claim to be the latest and greatest in the world of car care. Natural waxes, synthetic waxes, spray shines, spray waxes, anti swirls and scratch removers flood the shelves at the Mart stores.

We all have our secret show wining shine formulas that somehow always are never good enough. Ask ten car guy's for their product recommendation and application method and you will invariably get ten differing opinions on what's best.

After trying and evaluating many of the products currently available we heard about the latest shine craze that has hit the show car market. That craze is marketed under the catch all name of Nano Ceramic coatings.

What exactly is is a nano ceramic coating anyway?  They are basically  products that allow an inseparable transfer of particles from one surface to another. The coating thus becomes part of the original paints surface at a molecular level. The adhesion properties of these surface coatings are according to experts not permanent. The bond between the coating and the paint will eventually weaken. Like all paint surface products you will have to reapply them over time.

We contacted several makers of Nano Ceramic coatings with our request to do a comparison test and feature article.  At first many of them were very enthusiastic about the prospect of getting some cheap advertising. For the most part their enthusiasm soon waned once we informed that that the test and evaluations were going to be fair and honest. As we have mentioned in many of our test reviews we work for the Corvette community not the advertisers. This may cost us some ad dollars but in the long run it really pays to be honest.
nano ceramic coatings         nano ceramic coatings
Ducoras TopCoat F11           CarPro's Gliss

The final battle of the nano ceramics boiled down to two companies. Ducora which manufactures a product called Top Coat F11 and Car Pro that manufactures a product called Gliss.

After receiving the products we were anxious to test them on two cars that were in our garage. The two test cars were a C5 Corvette with a black finish and the second car was a C6 with a victory red finish.
nano ceramic coatings
CarPro's supplied us with some very soft microfiber pads and a spray bottle of wax and polish residue remover that they named "eraser"

We were told by the manufacturers that surface prep is critical to a successful application of these products. Now we know why body shops charge an arm and a leg to apply a ceramic coating. The steps include:

- A through wash of the car
- A complete clay baring of the cleaned paint surface
-A machine polish of the surface
- Removal of polish residue
- Application of the nano ceramic

Product 1. Ducora's TopCoat F11
nano ceramic coatings

Applying a nano is no walk in the park. Nano prep should be included in the Olympics as a sporting event. Our first application was on the red C6.  The paint was is perfect condition to begin with. The C6 is used to showcase products and is always in a state of show readiness. We never the less followed the recommendations of the "nano" people and washed, clayed and polished prior to product application. It took us about two hours of rubbing to get the car properly prepped.

The Ducora Topcoat F11 was applied to the red finish of the prepped C6. Topcoat supplied us with a small micro fiber application cloth. All we had to do was spray on a small amount of the F11 and wipe it off with the micro fiber cloth. We worked in two square foot section at a time. This stuff flashes very quickly and it must be wiped off before it hazes over. 

After each section was treated we re-buffed it out by hand using a clean soft polishing cloth. The results were pretty good. A high gloss shine and a very slippery to the touch finish were the result. The manufacturer suggests that the finish cure for about a day before exposing it to the elements.

Product 2. Car Pro's Gliss

The CarPro people are top notch car care professionals. Unlike the other suppliers of these type of products they took the time to explain to us in detail what the product was, what it could do and most importantly how to properly apply it. We explained to them that we were going to do an unbiased test and report exactly on the final results. Unlike some of the other nano suppliers CarPro had no problem with an unbiased test.

One of CarPro's premier nano products is marketed under the name of "Gliss".  The packaging included a small bottle of the nano solution, an application block and pads, a spray bottle of residue eraser and a set of very detailed and easy to understand application instructions. They even sent us several ultra soft "Slogger" micro fiber cloths to help in the final buffing.

nano ceramic coatings nano ceramic coatings
Our test vehicle this time around was our tried and true 98 C5 mule. The car is used for testing many performance oriented products.  The finish on the C5 is GM Black. The paint is original and has always been meticulously maintained. Although the original finish on the C5 was in excellent condition the Gliss was at a disadvantage as it had to deal with a twenty year old paint job.

We treated the C5 to the same grueling prep treatment as the red C6.

- A through wash of the car
- A complete clay baring of the cleaned paint surface
-A machine polish of the surface
- Removal of polish residue
- Application of the nano ceramic

Immediately buff it out with a soft micro fiber cloth   Immediately buff it out with a soft micro fiber cloth   
Apply the Gliss to the covered application block    Then gently rub it on a two square foot section at a time 
Immediately buff it out with a soft micro fiber cloth
Immediately buff it out with a soft micro fiber cloth

Unlike the spray application of the TopCoat the Gliss is applied via the use of a small application block that is wrapped in an ultra soft cloth. We applied a small amount of the Gliss to the block and applied the product to the C5 in two square foot sections. The product flashes quickly and was buffed out with the "Slogger" micro fiber cloths.

The actual application of this product went very quickly. The resulting finish was incredible. The resulting finish was a super slick mirror like glaze. We followed the manufactures instructions and let the C5 sit in the garage for a few days to let the finish cure.

Immediately buff it out with a soft micro fiber cloth

The Test

Now for the comparison. The question being how exactly do you test for a better car finish? We thought about using light refraction meters,friction testers and other dubious methods of arriving with some meaningful testing metrics. We decided on taking the simple and stupid approach. That's the approach that most car guys use and it has never failed us in the past.

The light test

The best way to judge a cars finish is to expose it with an intense white light. IPCW came to the rescue with one of its innovative LED hand held work lights. We named their lights "sun on a stick".  The output of these things are incredible. The light is so bright that even a glance at it will render you snow blind.

We shined the intense white light at several sections of the newly treated cars.  A light test will expose any flaws such as swirls, scratches, orange peel or dullness.

The C6 treated with TopCoat F11

At first glance the finish appeared to be really good. The light revealed some swirls and surface flaws. The shine was excellent but lacked a deep luster that is expected from a show quality finish. We rated the shine an 8 on a scale of 1-10.

The next real world comparison was the finger tip test. We had several of our rough fingered friends and some of our tender touch ladies feel the cars finish. We asked them to rate the smoothness of the finish on a scale of 1-10. The average obtained for the C6 was a respectable 7. Good but not great.

The Winner
The C5 treated with CarPro Gliss

The overall finish of the Gliss treated C5 brought our perception of what a perfect car finish should be to a whole new level. The luster of every body panel that we light tested revealed almost no surface flaws. The black paint on the C5 looked as if you could dive into it. It had an old school deep luster that every show car longs for. We rolled the C5 out of the garage and were dazzled by the shine in natural sunlight. We rated the finish a 10 on a scale of 1-10.

The feel test was even more impressive. None of the finger tester could feel any significant friction on the Gliss treated surface. Even one of our most critical rough necks commented that "the car feels smooth as a baby's ass". We rated the surface smoothness a 9 on a scale of 1-10.

Our final Thoughts

If you want to break out of the box of traditional wax's and polishes by all means give the nano ceramic products a try. Just be advised that surface prep is the key to a successful application. There are many professional shops that will apply the nano to your car if you are not inclined to spend an afternoon of intense rubbing.

The real test of these products is how the treated paint survives in the harsh elements of the real world. The layer of nano protection should last at least a year before an new coat is needed. Added benefits to the nano are its extreme hydro-phobic properties, or how well it sheds water. This doesn't matter because  as we all know Corvettes never get driven in the rain :)

You can get more information about these products from the manufacturers at:

CarPro Gliss

TopCoat F11
1-800 471 2115


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