Tesla cars are engineered for style, grace, prestige, and luxury. No expense is spared in creating this state-of-the-art masterpiece. With that said, Teslas are known to have a “soft” clear coat of paint, so they are more susceptible to scratches, damage, and swirl marks.
So what are the 5 best ways to protect Tesla car paint? Here are the top 5 ways to protect your Teslas paint:
- Ceramic Coating
- Polymer Sealants
- Carnuba Wax
- Garage/Covered Parking
Let’s dive into each method and discuss the benefits, the cost, and the downsides.
1. Ceramic Coating
Ceramic Coating is the preferred method of professional detailers to protect Tesla paint for a few reasons.
Ceramic coating is a very high-quality silica based ceramic liquid that’s applied on top of your Teslas paint.
It’s durable for all types of weather conditions, and it’s a popular option because it not only provides paint protection from the elements, but it helps maintains that showroom shine.
A professionally applied ceramic coating will last for at least 2 years, but knock-off ceramic coating, or DIY kits, typically only last a few months.
Ceramic coating will repel dirt and water, so your car will stay cleaner longer. Ceramic coating also helps your paint to be scratch resistant, but there’s no guarantee you won’t still get scratches from certain situations.
Some car owners huff at the cost of ceramic coating since it is quite expensive. However, the many benefits of having a professional ceramic coat on your Tesla is well worth the price to keep it in it’s showroom beauty.
A professionally installed ceramic coating is a great overall paint protection option. It will keep your car’s paint looking new for at least 2 years, and because it repels dirt and water, your car will stay cleaner longer between washes.
Downsides to Ceramic Coating:
The downside only comes down a few things, one of them being understanding the limits of your ceramic coat. Ceramic coating does not make your paint “scratch-proof” or “dent-proof,” yet it does offer the best protection when compared to your other options.
Keep in mind, if you use off-brand or cheap washing detergents for your vehicle, the chemicals can and will deteriorate the ceramic coat faster than usual.
Ceramic coating is often used for newer vehicles rather than older models or surface damaged vehicles. The reason for this is because the ceramic coating not only protects the cars paint, but it will enhance the looks of the current condition of your cars paint. You’ll see the maximum benefit from this if you apply the ceramic coat as soon as you get your new Tesla.
Another downsides of ceramic coating is the inability of doing it yourself. This is one of those jobs you’ll want to leave to the professionals because they have the highest quality ceramic coating supplies, and theirs will likely last longer.
The cost of ceramic coating often deters car owners since it is rather costly. The average cost to professionally ceramic coat a Tesla is about $1500. It’s expensive upfront, but you’ll be able to see the difference, and it will last for years.
2. Polymer Sealants
Polymer Sealants are next on the list for preferred methods of protecting your paint.
Polymer Sealants are my personal favorite paint protection for my Tesla because it’s extremely affordable, repels dirt and water for 12 months, and makes the car shine like new. Simply spray on with a microfiber towel, and wipe off with a clean microfiber towel.
These sealants can last up to 12 months, can be done by yourself, and are very affordable.
Sealants are easier to apply than waxes, and they come in various forms such as paste, liquid, or spray on. Spray sealants are my favorite because they are the easiest to apply.
Polymer Sealants are a great budget-friendly option for those who are looking for a quick DIY paint protection option. These sealants come in a variety of application forms, and will last about 12 months. A good bottle of polymer sealant is only about $20 on Amazon (this is what I personally use).
Downsides to Polymer Sealants:
Because this is a DIY, budget-friendly, paint protection option, there are some downsides to consider.
Sealants are affordable; however, they are not as durable when compared to ceramic coating. Sealants required re-application after 12 months.
Also, the protection level of a polymer sealant is limited since, in theory, they are only a beefed-up form of waxes. It will not offer the solid protection or longevity of ceramic coating. It will depend on the re-applications, washing chemicals used, and overall condition of your car paint to the type of protection it will provide.
3. Carnauba Wax
Carnauba Wax has been the traditional go-to for anyone wishing to put a protectant on their car since the early 1900s. It’s always been a favorite for car enthusiasts, but it’s quickly getting surpassed by newer technologies, like the ones we mentioned above.
Carnauba wax can last up to 3 months, and can be done yourself.
Although this is also an affordable option, it’s actually going to cost you a bit more than a good Polymer Sealant, which will likely give you better results. A good jar of carnauba wax is about $40 on Amazon.
Downsides to Carnauba Wax:
Applying carnauba wax is definitely something you can do yourself, however it takes a bit of learning to get it just right.
Many times, you’ll see “swirl” marks all over peoples cars. These are from waxing jobs that didn’t go as well as they should have.
If the temperature is too hot, the wax becomes soft and loses it’s protective qualities. Extremely hot temperatures will melt the wax thus leaving blotches or smears on your vehicles surface as well. Application plays a major contributor to the success or fail of your wax.
Although carnauba wax has been a favorite for ages, you may be better going with a ceramic coat if your budget allows it, or a polymer sealant for better results at a lower cost.
4. Clear Coat
About 95% of new vehicles today will have a clear coat applied to them before purchase. Teslas are no exception. All Teslas come with a clear coat applied to the paint, however Teslas are known to have a “soft” clear coat.
Essentially, a clear coat is a thin layer of clear paint sprayed on your car after the colored paint has been finished. Think of it as an additional transparent layer of paint.
Clear coats are done at the factory, during the painting process.
Technically, another option for paint protection is adding a second layer of clear coat to your Tesla, however a more practical approach is to properly take care of, and preserve, the factory Tesla clear coat.
A clear coat will provide protection from scratches, road debris, dirt, and more. However the clear coat is just as vulnerable as the colored paint underneath it, but if it scratches, it will not show the base material of your car as easily, like a non-clear coated car’s paint would.
Clear coats give a shiny and glossy appearance to your car as well. The color will appear deeper, thus improving the total look of your car. The shelf life of your car’s paint will last longer with a clear coat along with diminishing the effects of the elements.
With that said, a clear coat is not going to be nearly as good protection as carnauba wax, polymer sealant, or ceramic coating, so you will want to add an additional layer of protection on top.
Downsides of Clear Coat:
Firstly, Teslas are known to have a “soft” clear coat, which means the paint is easier to damage, scratch, and show swirl marks.
Although you could have an additional, “harder,” clear coat sprayed to your entire car, it doesn’t make much sense to do so because the cost would be impractical. Rather, just learn how to preserve the life of your factory clear coat.
Over time, your Tesla clear coat may appear dull if proper care is not taken. The best way to protect your clear coat is to use high-quality car wash soap, and apply an additional layer of protection.
5. Garage/ Covered Parking
In addition to applying different types of coating on your Tesla, it is wise to park your car in covered or garaged parking spot.
Keeping your Tesla in a garage or covered area will increase the life of your cars paint exponentially.
If you are unable to park in a garage or covered area, then perhaps you can invest in a car cover.
Pretty much any proper vehicle coverage for your Tesla is better than exposing your beloved car to the harsh conditions of the elements.
Downside to Garage/Covered Parking:
For obvious reasons, a garage will not provide complete protection to your cars paint unless you plan to never drive it or expose it to the elements. Even if you never take it out of the garage, over time, oxidation will occur and your never used new car will slowly show age in it’s paint.
Another Factor To Consider
The thickness in the paint will affect the durability of the protection you put on it.
However, a very thick paint reading may indicate the vehicle has been repainted indicating the car has needed repair in some form or fashion.
A recent comparable test shows the Tesla paint is high-quality and comparable to other car types.
Some may argue the thickness of the paint coat of the Tesla is not as thick as other car brands. Therefore it may be prone to scratches, swirls, and dings on the surface of the paint.
There have been mixed reviews regarding this matter. It is always good practice to protect your Tesla’s paint with any of these 5 methods depending on your preference.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will Wrapping a Tesla Protect the Paint?
A Vinyl Wrap is a common method for protecting Tesla paint, and you can choose the color of the wrap as well. This is a cool way to “change” the color of your Tesla, but does it actually protect the paint?
The wrapping is not designed to protect the surface of the car. Although you will get a certain level of protection by wrapping your car, it’s mostly just going to keep dirt off the car’s paint underneath.
The main downside to a wrapped car is that you have to be much more careful when washing your car. Although you still take your wrapped car to a car wash, it’s common to see car washes ruining wraps.
The next downside is that a wrap costs about $3,000 which makes it more expensive than any other paint protection option we’ve mentioned.
Will Paint Protection Film (PPF) Protect Tesla Paint?
Paint Protection Film (PPF) is another popular method to protect the paint on a Tesla. As you may have noticed, it did not make our list of paint protection options, here’s why.
PPF is the most expensive way to protect the paint on your Tesla. A professional PPF install costs anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 depending on several factors.
There are several potential downsides to PPF that should be considered, especially for the high cost.
Firstly, PPF does not have water and dirt repelling features like the other method we’ve discussed. This means many installers will actually suggest doing a ceramic coating on top of the PPF.
Secondly, if you opt for a cheaper PPF, they may discolor or crack over time, leaving you with a yellowish hue to your car.
Thirdly, if you scratch or damage the PPF, your car’s paint will indeed be protected, but you will have to have the entire section of PPF replaced, not just the area of the damage. Time to bring the wallet back out.
Technically speaking, paint protection film is a great way to protect the paint on a Tesla, however it comes in at a seriously high price.
Can I Apply Ceramic Coating to My Own Tesla?
Applying a ceramic coat to your car should be done by an expert. It requires the tedious task of ensuring your car’s surface is clear of any contaminants, dings, scratches, or swirls. If any of these defects appear on the car, the ceramic coating will enhance that defect and trapping anything under the surface of the ceramic coat.
The cost of a ceramic coating is expensive but well worth the money since it will provide long-lasting protection to the surface of your car. If you were to apply the ceramic coating yourself, it is not guaranteed your coat will provide the optimal protection.
Leave this process to the experts. You will receive a warranty thus providing that level of comfort your car is properly protected.