Are PPF and ceramic coating really necessary?

Are PPF and ceramic coating really necessary?

I see several posts a day about owners who have had PPF and ceramic coatings done to their cars. I've owned a bunch of cars over the years and never treated any of them. According to the guy who gave me a quote on my new Model 3, there's nothing significantly different between Tesla's paint and other automotive paint. Before a blow $2,000+, can people tell me whether they think the coating and protection is necessary or just something that some people do to their cars, regardless of brand.


lilbean | June 12, 2019

There’s only one way to find out. :)

Magic 8 Ball | June 12, 2019

Of course it is necessary.

Use my referral code:


TexasBob | June 12, 2019

cost us $500 for ceramic coating including "paint correction" which near as I can tell means making it nice and shiny. Anyway, a year later there are absolutely no tiny spiderweb scratches in the car. This is my sixth black car (Porsche, Subaru, Chevy x2, Jeep) and the first one that has not gotten those annoying little scratches. So FWIW best $500 I ever spent.

No, I would not spend $2,000. You need to find a new guy.

FISHEV | June 12, 2019

No. Not necessary and I doubt even for a Tesla. The "soft" and "hard" paint thing is more of detailing industry code and it has mostly to do with applying their products.

Most I did for my cars which see high mileage (24k average year) and probably 30 days in snow and gravel which is brutal plus I live in a wet climate which means all kinds of gunk from the road gets suspended in water and dumped on the car) was a clear protection on nose from the rocks and get car washed frequently at automatic soft brush car washes. Guys detailing the Subaru for sale were impressed with how well the four year old 95,000 mile car looks.

But I did spend the $3k for the full nose clear cover with door edges, window tinting and the ceramic on the Tesla. That the place was filled with other Tesla owners egging me on did not help.

Car looks great though. The ceramic is, at worst, a great finish treatment. The tinted windows add a touch.

If you are in area where you get a lot of rocks and debris from roads, then I'd get the $500 half nose done and nothing else. I'd get the tint for sure due to all the glass. I got side window tint and purchased the Tesla shades for the roof.

jim | June 12, 2019

It's a choice, not a necessity. The stories about the paint on Telsa's being "soft" is FUD, but probably helped to sell a lot of protection packages. I chose to have PPF put on the front for protection, and am considering doing ceramic (mostly for the looks). If you aren't concerned about the car getting the occasional chip from road debris, and are okay with the car getting a little dirty, then you don't need to do either one.

coleAK | June 12, 2019

As others have said it is not needed and not specific to Tesla. I have 2 ideas why it’s coming up often here. First, the front of the car is all paint (and glass) so there is no chrome/grill/openings to take the rocks/sand/gravel/bugs it all blasts the paint Second, when reading through the “what did you drive before...” for many people on here the model 3 is the newest, nicest, most expensive car they have ever purchased so taking extra care. Finically, ceramic coatings and PPF have gained popularity reciently.

We had ceramic pro gold done on our model 3 and it is awesome, makes car washes much easier especially in the winter when the car is covered in sand and it’s <0F. I’m having my LX570 done this month.

gballant4570 | June 12, 2019

short answer, not at all.

Neomaxizoomdweebie | June 12, 2019

I went the 16 dollar Maguires clay bar route followed by 25 dollar 9H nano ceramic coating. Did it myself in my garage. It’s like a semi-permanent wax. Bugs slip right off with a hose.

Firewired | June 12, 2019

Depends where you live. I am in San Antonio and one thing there are a lot of here are rock quarries from the natural limestone deposits. Subsequently there are a lot of stones on the road to chip the front of cars. San Antonio actually supplies cement to the Houston area where there are no quarries. So if I was in Houston I would have to think about it, in San Antonio if you plan on keeping the car for any period I think it is a necessity.

kcheng | June 12, 2019

I've never PPF'd or used a coating before. However, I saw pics of other Model 3s where the rockers and lower door panels were sandblasted. If you live in Canada, Finland or northern states where they salt and sand the roads, you might want to consider mudguards or PPF. Either one will cost about $200, not $2000. You can install them yourself.

I don't know anything about soft paint, but if you look at the Model 3 design you'll see that the aero design increases the risk of sandblasting of the rockers. The rockers taper under the car. Many vehicles don't taper under, but are vertically-sided, to prevent road grit from blasting the sides. Or they put plastic on the rockers to protect the paint. You can get rocker pre-cut PPF for about $120. You can also get rockers and the lower door sections for $200. Those areas are pretty easy to DIY. for the first kit. for the second kit.

TM3Q | June 12, 2019

I own a black Tesla M3 Dual Motor, next Monday I will get the whole car wrap with PPF. They will do all the paint retouch also before wrapping. I choose the glossy finish.

After 8 months and almost 14K miles my car has so many rock chips and scratches on the hood and front sides that I decided to pay 3500CAD to protect it all. Also I purchase medium size mud-guard to add more protection on the rocker panel. If I knew it would got this bad I would have done it last November when the car was delivered.

I should be ok to go thru next winter :-)

howard | June 12, 2019

Run through car wash twice a week haven’t even bothered to wax. Looks great. Unless as mentioned your in a really bad winter sand/salt area I would not bother.

Wattsworth | June 12, 2019

I'm going to be contrarian and say, yes PPF and ceramic are both worth the expense.

Within days of taking delivery of my M3 I had pits all over the nose. Anyone who drives in Arizona will understand. I spent hours touching up. Then had PPF installed on the nose, mirrors and headlights along with the center console.

A month later -- after suffering a few "gravel sprays" on the highway -- the nose is still unblemished.

Ceramic serves a different purpose. Think of it as a "permanent" wax. I spend literally minutes a week maintaining the cleanliness of the M3 versus hours maintaining the high quality paint on the Porsche.

I could go on at length about the benefits in both the look -- between washes, it always looks clean and shiny -- and ease of maintenance. For me, well worth the savings in time keeping the car looking brand new. $2000 to protect a $65,000 investment is an easy decision.

surfpearl | June 12, 2019

Not necessary at all, just something that some people do to their cars regardless of brand. Whether you choose to do it depends on your budget, how/where you use the car and the type of person you are. If you care for your expensive property and like your beautiful car protected for years to come, then yes, you can justify to yourself that spending some extra $ now would be a good idea rather than fixing rock chips or scratches from collision with high wind driven tumbleweed later. Or, on the other hand, maybe you don't mind having a few scratches to add to the car's personality :)

If you have an expensive cell phone, did you get a protective case for it? If you have pets, have you purchased health insurance for them? To some folks those are also unnecessary, but others wouldn't even blink before deciding that those are indeed worthy expenses. So, it all depends on what your values are and what you can afford.

I love my fully PPF wrapped and ceramic coated car. Took it to the PPF shop straight from delivery. Also protected the windshield, glass roof and lights. I highly recommend it and have never treated any of my previous cars with such care. They just didn't seem that special and amazingly beautiful. Like you, I'm also a boomer, been around the block a few times, so I know what can happen to a car. Whether we choose to react or act preemptively is the question. Do some more research on pros and cons, visit a few shops in your area and think long term.

slingshot18 | June 12, 2019

No. Not necessary. I did it because I hate waxing. And I like how it’s easier to clean.

I paid $450 for ceramic and paint correction.

gmr6415 | June 13, 2019

As @Neomaxizoomdweebie, I went a cheaper route. I did my own clay bar then used Meguiar's Hybrid Ceramic Wax. It costs about 15 dollars. A detailer told me about it and said to not follow the bottle's instructions for the first coat, but to apply it like a paste wax, then follow the instructions for additional coats. For additional coats you simply wash the car, rinse the car and mist it with the hybrid wax while it's still wet. They you use a micro-fiber drying towel to dry the car, which applies the hybrid wax at the same time.

I used it because I'm in Central FL and the love bugs were bad this year. They can be very difficult to get off and they are acidic so they can damage your paint. After a couple coats of the hybrid wax most of them come off with a "jet" stream from the garden hose. Those that don't come off with the hose very easily come off with a sponge and automotive soap.

For me, I love this stuff. It goes on easy and makes the car easy to wash. A good hard rain will remove most of the road dirt. What it doesn't take off comes off very easily.

I did apply PPF on my headlights. I'm hoping it will keep them from fogging up over the years. Only time will tell.

derotam | June 13, 2019

Easy answer... look at your old car. Look for rock chips, scratches, etc on the front bumper and hood. If you see anything there that you would prefer not to have happen to your Tesla, then get PPF. If the car looks fine to you and you don't have any problems then skip it.

For me, I had the lower part of my bumper look like it had been sand blasted, and I had a bunch of little rock chips/dents in the paint on the bumper and I got PPF because I would prefer to limit that on my Tesla.

calvin940 | June 13, 2019

I had the front and rocker panels wrapped then ceramic pro on the whole car. Between the brutally salty winter we had and the constant barrage of trucks spewing rocks, I am very glad to have had it done. My M3 is a planned long term commitment for me so amortizing the cost over the expected ownership timespan, it was a no brainer for me.

My car looks great.

TM3Q | June 13, 2019

One thing I can say is if you live in Quebec Province protect at least the front and rocker panel as soon as you get the car otherwise you will get into the same situation I got. Winter was pretty rough for the car but spring was also bad as many rock and sand where accumulated on the roads so many hazard for the front and rocker panel. Now that the city cleaned all the roads it's ok. Also mud-guard would be a good idea for extra protection.

Anyway next week my worries will end with the whole car being wrapped. No more worries about scratches or rock chips, it's amazing you scratche the PPF and with a little of heat all scratches next time I park the car I don't have to worry about someone slamming the door or keying the car :-)


dsvick | June 13, 2019

I got PPF and ceramic mostly because I know I'm lazy about washing my car and don't do it often enough. Now, when I finally get around to it, everything comes off easily and the car looks awesome when I'm done ... every time. And will continue to do so for years to come.

Fredvanngo | June 13, 2019

the bottom line : It is worth if you can afford and are happy with it...

lilbean | June 13, 2019

+1 @dsvick

I usually wash my cars once a week but with all the rain that we had from January to May, I didn’t have to wash it. I went five months without washing it because the rain cleaned the ceramic coated car. There are no rock chips with the bumper PPF. My X has some damage from rocks because it does not have PPF.

derotam | June 13, 2019

What really sucks is when you get PPF and then within a month you get a rock that hits in just the right way to actually tear a small section of the PPF on the hood. What a bummer that was as it will be there for a LONG time now.

Wolfsbane | June 13, 2019

Look on the bright side...the PPF did it's job and the paint is saved. =)

lilbean | June 13, 2019

My installer replaces the PPF at a much lower price after it's been damaged.

cloganplatt | June 13, 2019

I'm a fan of the PPF and the ceramic coating. I've had it on several of my cars - just makes them a heck of a lot easier to keep clean, and the paint (esp on the front bumper) chip-free. 2K is on the high side, I'd shop around a bit.

If you don't really mind how your paint looks, regular washing is just fine.

Pierogi | June 13, 2019

At a minimum, I recommend getting PPF applied to the lower rockers and in front of the rear wheel well. If you drive on any sort of dirt roads or in areas with winters where they apply sand/gravel to the roads those areas, speaking from experience, will have the paint wear away.

A few weekends ago I spent a long weekend and applied a ceramic paint coating to my black Model 3. I went through the entire process of using a strip wash, clay bar, 2 step paint correction/polish with DA polisher, and then the ceramic paint coating/ceramic spray coating/and ceramic "boost" spray. It was a TON of work that required patience and research, but really was not that difficult and the car looks amazing.

The ease of washing a ceramic coated car and keeping it clean is night and day. Water flies off the paint and I can dry the car with a small hand blower and then go over it quickly with a MF towel.

However, after going through the process, what I would recommend to someone who does not want to spend the time or money to pay someone to ceramic coat their car or do the work themselves would be to buy Adam's Polishes "Ceramic Spray Coating" applied with a microfiber pad and wiped off with an Adam's Polishes single soft towel. The ceramic spray coating will take you about a half hour to apply and remove - it adds a TON of gloss to your car as well as ceramic protection. The spray coating is relatively inexpensive and you could apply it every 3-4 months and it's VERY easy to use (it just won't last as long as a more conventional ceramic paint coating that lasts years).

I applied the ceramic spray coating to my rims and now I simply hose them off and they are clean and shiny. Just make sure before you apply the ceramic spray coating to your paint you use a clay bar and the ceramic coating prep / IPA spray. People will say you need to do paint correction before you use the ceramic spray coating, but unless you are taking your Tesla to a car show, it's not needed.

After doing the paint correction and ceramic coating myself, the price the detailers charge is very justified due to how time consuming it can be.

ODWms | June 14, 2019

Where I live, in Central Florida, love bug season comes twice a year. I had PPF applied on all the very areas you see this guy’s Model 3 impacted by the bugs.

On the rest of the car I had ceramic coating applied and the results are great! Easy cleaning, dirt, bug droppings and grime rinses off.

None of this stuff is a “necessity,” but then, very little about an $80,000 car is.

ODWms | June 14, 2019

^^^ P.S. pollen season is an issue, too. Makes dealing with these types of events is way easier with paint protection.

terminator9 | June 14, 2019

I have owned many cars in past. The Tesla paint being a little soft than other is true in my opinion since it scratches easily then my previous cars. But not to the extent that I will spend 2k+ more. I haven't done any of the "paint protections" and the car looks fine.

Hassancook24 | June 14, 2019


detayls | June 14, 2019

Simple answer: no.

lilbean | June 14, 2019

Yes, if you want your car to stay amazing looking.

adamwilt | June 14, 2019

Necessary? No.

Useful? Sure.

I took my first long distance trip (2400 miles) in April and collected many bugs on the car over the course of a week. The car started the trip clean and treated with Meguiar's Ultimate Fast Finish polymer topcoat, but no matter: getting the bugs off was traumatic. I didn't quite have to get out the cold chisel and angle grinder, but it was tempting.

So I splurged: I spent $15 on a 30ml bottle of "Nano Bond 9H Liquid Crystal" ceramic coating -- normally it's around $25-$35, but Amazon had it on sale. I lightly compounded the paint to get rid of the water spots left from an ill-advised hose-washing (our local water is chock-full of precipitating minerals), recleaned using Optimum No-Rinse, then used the Nano Bond. (No, I didn't fully "correct" the paint, nor did I use a clay bar, nor an iron remover. I'm a bad person, I know.) I let the car sit in the garage for a full 72 hours for the coating to cure.

A week afterwards I took another long (2100 mile), bug-filled trip. Cleanup afterwards was astonishingly easy; most of the bugs came off on the first wipe of the ONR-wetted microfiber cloth, and only the very worst splats needed any sort of halfway-serious rubbing or squirts of additional ONR. The other dust, dirt, grime, and bird poop similarly wiped right off with no effort whatsoever. Overall the cleanup was done in a third of the usual time and a fraction of the elbow grease.

I don't know how long this topcoat will last, but it went on quickly and easily, at a fraction of the time and cost you read about in the forums (granted, I'm not trying for a show-car finish, I just wanted something that makes maintenance easier). For me, it was well worth $15 and an afternoon's work.

ODWms | June 15, 2019

I just realized, I didn’t include link to the picture:

texxx | June 15, 2019

I debated getting PPF on the front half and ceramic all around - wasn't cheap. But my last trip back from Houston to Austin made me glad I did. A car was passing me at 80mph when I noticed something hanging down from the front passenger wheel well, just in front of the tire. A second later whatever that was exploded out of the wheel well and all over the front of my car. Pieces hit the bumper dead-on and some of the material bounced off the edge of the windshield and roof. There was nothing I could do and no way to avoid being hit by multiple pieces of what I assume used to be the other car's wheel well cover. Long story short, the bumper took a hard hit and left lots of marks and rubber-like residue on the PPF. The roof glass just above the windshield also had some marks on it. I was able to "heal" the PPF with some boiling water and totally remove all the residue with no damage at all. Looks like new. Same for the glass on the roof. Took some elbow grease, but the material eventually came off. In that one instance I'm convinced the PPF saved me some major paint work on my bumper, and I'm happy that I went for the extra protection.

amohr | February 1, 2020

I went with PPF on the front and ceramic coating all around on my Black Performance 3. Was it necessary? I think so for me, and I had it professionally done because I know that I’m not as meticulous as one needs to be to do a proper job, plus it’s very time consuming. Yes it was kinda expensive ($2500 USD) but I think for about 3% of the total cost of the car it was worth it. The self-healing of PPF is pretty amazing and clean up is really a breeze with the ceramic hydrophobic properties. Black of course is the worst color for showing swirls, etc. if I had another color I might have done ceramic only.

RayNLA | February 1, 2020

Money well spent. The PPF will protect your car from stonechips and embedded bugs.
Your vehicle will look great for years.
Follow proper washing techniques and never let an automatic carwash brush near it. Occasionally use a good detail spray and a new microfiber towel to bring out the gloss.

FISHEV | February 2, 2020

It depends on where you travel. In OR, we use gravel for snow/ice so you have to get a full nose, fender, rocker cover PPF and mud flaps if you are traveling in snow country.

It does pay off when you sell the car as the car looks great and new owner is buying the same protection.

Ceramic I did because of Tesla history with paint issues.

$3k total including tinting the windows. I'll probably recover $1k of it on resale and save $2k on repairs while owning so probably worth it.

jebinc | February 2, 2020

DIY CarPro cQuartz for me seemed liked a no brainer to me, so I put on four layers over a 2-3 day period. Passed on the PPF, except under the mud flaps I installed.