The Problem With Factory Clear Coats On Cars

If you’ve ever seen an unrestored old car from the 50’s, 60’s or 70s, you’ve probably noticed that the paint, despite being several decades old, can still look ok. Take for example this 1957 Chevy Bel Air with original paint, which could actually be glossy once some wax is applied:

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The main reason it still looks good is because car manufacturers used to use lead-based paint, which lasts longer. Of course, after the damaging health effects were realized, government regulations forbid using lead-based paint starting in 1978. Moving forward, car manufactures starting using water-based acrylic polyurethane enamel paint and an added layer of clear coat to make it glossy.

The Problem

This combination of paint and clear coat doesn’t last as long as lead-based paint and wears down over time:

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For the most part, every consumer vehicle that has been produced since the 1980s has at least one layer of clear coat. When vehicles are being painted at the factory, a layer(s) of clear coat is applied on top of the color paint. This is done to help protect the paint to a certain level and is the reason why, many times, scratches can be buffed out without having to use touch-up paint – because the scratch is in the clear coat, not the color paint.

When the scratch is too deep, however, it scratches the actual paint and that is when touch-up paint is required. The problem with factory clear coat is that not only is it a minor layer of protection, but it also has the tendency to fade and wear out over time. This is why wax is used – it helps preserve the clear coat. Wax helps add an extra barrier of protection and while wax does work, it is only temporary which is why you need to apply it every 3-4 months.

HOWEVER…

The Concept of Traditional Auto Wax Is Dead. In Its Place Are Protective Coatings

Advances in auto detailing has led to protective coatings. While traditional wax used to be the go-to product for protection, sealants have replaced wax and can provide better protection as well as:

  • Formulated to outlast & outperform other paint sealants
  • Contains a bonding agent that maximizes the longevity and durability of the polymers
  • Forms a tough polymer coating with true staying power
  • Leaves an even better gloss than traditional wax

Capitol Shine uses sealant instead of wax in our “Wash + Sealant” package.

What’s Our Wash + Sealant Process?

At Capitol Shine, our WASH +  SEALANT process consists of a paint-safe hand wash and dry of the exterior, trunk and door jambs, windows, mirrors, dashboard, console, wheels and tires. Then we use bug and tar removal, a clay bar surface treatment, and a dressing of the outside plastics and rubber. We then apply sealant to the exterior and polish it all off with a light hand buff. This package includes:

  • Paint-Safe Hand Wash and Dry
  • Wipe Trunk and Door Jambs
  • Clean Wheels and Dress Tires
  • Clean Windows and Mirrors Inside and Out
  • Wipe Dashboard and Console
  • Bug and Tar Removal
  • Nano Mitt (Advanced Clay Bar Surface)
  • Dress Outside Plastics and Rubber
  • Apply Sealant To The Exterior
  • Light Hand Buff

And Not To Confuse You More, But You Can Also Upgrade Sealant To A Ceramic Coating For Even Greater Protection

Ceramic Coatings

Within the past couple of years, a new option for paint protection has become available in the form of ceramic coatings. Capitol Shine offers two different ceramic coatings: Ceramic Pro and Opti-Coat Pro.

Ceramic Pro 

Over time, wax will break down and require more coatings (about every 3 months). Ceramic Pro is not a paint protection, wax or sealant that will wash away or break down over time. Scientifically speaking, it is a nano-ceramic coating that forms a permanent adhesion to the paint and can only be removed through abrasion – NO chemical can dissolve the coating.

Opti-Coat Pro

Opti-Coat Pro an American made protective coating. This is a popular option for those looking for an alternative to Ceramic Pro and still provides great protection against UV rays, marring, oxidation and more. This product is available in 2 and 7 year warranties. Learn more about Opti-Coat Pro here.


Beyond Your Vehicle | Our protective coatings are so good, their uses extend beyond just cars. They help protect boats from wear and tear from salt water, alkalis, acids, corrosion and more. We also use protective coatings for commercial properties in areas like elevator interiors and lobbies to help prevent scratches and marks. We have entered a new age in the way we detail and protect vehicles. Please browse our paint protection website (ceramicpro-dc.com) and the links above to expand on our paint protection options.

To schedule your wash + sealant service, please head over to our scheduling page to make an appointment. Please schedule at least 24 hours in advance to insure time and date.