How To Remove Ceramic Coating

Why ask this question in the first place if you can just drive to a professional car detailing shop and have your car done up with a high-grade professional ceramic coat?

That’s because this procedure can cost you several hunderd dollars, and if you are a regular car driver like us, you have no option but to do this painstaking task yourself.

So lets take a closer look at the proceedure needed and the easiest way for you to do this.

Why would you need to remove your car’s ceramic coating?

The answer is of course: to apply a new one. This can be for many reasons:

  • Bodywork: Your car has been dented, scratched or damaged in some way, probably after an accident and you need to reapply the paint and ceramic coating to the damaged part.
  • Wrong application: You recently did a new ceramic coat, but made a mistake, resulting in an uneven, dirty coat. Sadly, you’ll have to remove the bad coat and do it over.
  • Worn out: Ceramic coatings do not last forever. Even high-grade ones start losing their luster, smoothness, and protective properties after a decade. For a fresh coat, you’ll have to remove the old one first.
  • Dealership applied: This is probably the most common reason people want to remove their ceramic coating. Them or the previous owners give in to slick sales techniques when buying the and opted for the ceramic coating. This is often sold under the diguise of the comment "To protect your investment". Have your car sealed before you take ownership and it will save you thousands of dollars. Well it may if its done properly!

Should you remove the entire coat?

If only a small part of your vehicle is damaged, then there is no need to strip your car completely. Just focus on the damaged part to remove the coat and reapply.

This can be easier if the damaged area is near and edge of a panel rather than bang in the centre.

The 3 ways to remove ceramic coating

There are 3 tried and tested ways of removing an old ceramic coat. But before choosing any of those, consult your car’s manual or contact the manufacturer. Ask them how they recommend the coating should be removed, and go for that option.

The reason is that certain coatings and paints react differently to the removal solutions and it is much better to check first. And even then just trial it on a small area first, somewere insignificant not in the middle of the hood!

Here are the methods we recommend.

1. Chemical removal

This method is suitable for ceramic coats which are very old and worn out. Since they are already thinning, they will give in to alkaline chemicals easily. The downside is that unless you have consulted a professional and are very sure of the chemical you are using, too strong of an alkaline solution can damage the clear coat and paint layer on your car too. It is advised to always do a patch test first.

2. Polishing

Most professional detailers swear by this method. This is because it can remove the toughest of coats, and is also the most efficient and controllable way.

However, you should know what end result to look for when using a polishing tool, or else you might end up cutting the clear coat too. It’s important to be able to visibly tell when you’ve cut enough.

For this method, you must wash your car beforehand and let it sit in a cool, shaded place for at least 2 hours. You should start using a hard-to-medium cutting pad and polishing compound, and do a second pass with a lower grade compound to finish off smoothly.

3. Claying

Claying is recommended for very high-grade ceramic coats, with SiO2 percentage above 80. You must first wash the car with a wax-stripping shampoo, use the clay bar to remove the ceramic coating, and then rinse off and dry.

showing the process needed to remove ceramic coating

Preparation is key

Before any of the above methods are applied we suggest you thoroughally wash the car. Starting with the wheels. As the brake dust collected on these can prove to be the most abrasive substance you can apply to your paintwork.

Next wash the whole car with a good lubricating shampoo such as Sonax . Once completed carry out a detailed visual check of the whole vehicle.

Note any small (or indeed large) imperfections that will need treating prior to the ceramic coating removal.

By treated we mean that small patch should receive specific attention to take the coating right back and repair and paint damage. If it is just a stone chip or light scratch then a touch up pen is all thats needed.

How to Remove Ceramic Coating two step plan

Once the car has been prepared with a complete wash and rinse you can follow this simple two step plan to remove the ceramic coating.

If you look back at the three suggested methods mentioned earlier, this paln encorporates most of those requirements and is we feel the best over all plan for a DIY person to remove a ceramic coat.

Step 1: Apply Degreaser

Now, we know this is usually more suited to your engine bay but let us explain. To initiate the process of creamic coat removal the coating has to be weakended enough to separate from the paintwork. This process ideally requires an alkaline substance. 

Degreaser, in particularly one type called Brake Buster seems to have the ideal alkaline level to quickly react with the ceramic coating. Not only does it react well but it has superb lubricating properties that prepare the surface for the next step.

As you can see by the label below it is designed for wheel cleaning by removing the brake dust but believe us this is the idea substance for this process.

A container of alkaline degreaser

Step 2:  Clay Bar the Coating

Next step is to clay bar the whole car using a good quality clay bar such as Mothers Gold Clay Bar.

Ensuring the surface is well lubricated with the alkaline solution the clay bar should be worked back and forth across each of the panels. Gradually the claying process will remove all the surface imperfections and then remove the ceramic coating.

Treat one panel at a time and when complete rinse off the mixture. This is done for two reasons, firstly to clear the panel of the solution ready to be dried. Secondly by observing the panel after rinsing with water you be able to determine if any of the ceramic coating is remaining.

This can be observed by the beading of water on the sections that are still coated. Whereas, the sections at are clear of the ceramic will just disperse the water. The sections that bead up will need to be lubricated and clayed again.

Shows Beading on surface where ceramic coating still exists

It can be a long process but if you are wanting to save a good few hundred dollars then the time and effort is worth it.

How To Remove Ceramic Coating Conclusion

This is not the easiest task and we would recommend that you have at least a whole day set allocated to complete the task. And the following day to apply the new ceramic coating.

The list of items needed is:

  • Hose 
  • Gallon of Brake Buster
  • Good quality clay bar
  • Mixer bucket

An easy enough list to gather together. Combine them with a nice weather day along with some tunes on the radio and you have a detailers dream!

Take your time with the process, ensure good application of all substances and we are sure you will have a fabulous result and save yourselves a big pile of dollars now you now how to remove ceramic coating