The facts and what to be aware of
Lifetime warranty on a new car ceramic paint protection coating. So you just purchased a new vehicle and the dealership has just sat you down to tell you all about this amazing new revolutionary product that’s like no other, called “ceramic glass paint protection made with super duper unicorn tears by NASA” it comes with all the bells and whistles as well as a lifetime warranty..
Amazing right? How can one possibly go wrong with such an investment?.. Well, let’s dig a little deeper and see what we can discover
If your one of the few that manages to get out of the “after sales pressure room” which is full of hopes and dreams circled around this amazing product and you decide to be a wise and educated customer who would prefer to do a whole heap of google searching, product hunting and review investigating only to find yourself doing the ring around to a few paint protection professionals then find yourself buried in a mountain of even more confusing gibberish.
One company has options of up to 9 layers of protection and priced accordingly (9 layers.. really? Excuse me while I bury my head in confusion) then there is some who also offer lifetime warranty while others claim to be professional grade “ceramic glass unicorn tears” but with no independent certifications or testing results, some require you to leave your new car with them for 4+ days just so they can offer you the maximum damage to your wallet and then there is a small handful of applicators that seem too genuine about the whole process and makes it sound a little unbelievable. So who is offering the right product for you? Which one is over-hyped exaggeration? And who is trying to flood you with lies simply to score your hard earned cash?
Found out more about new car paint protection here
Let’s try explain some of these and cut out the confusion. Does a lifetime warranty mean that the paint protection will last for the next 10 years? 20 years even or a lifetime of neglect? Is there even such a thing as 5, 8 or even 10 layers of paint protection? Will your car be protected forever and ever? How long is a lifetime? Does anything man-made ever last a lifetime?
Allow me to introduce myself, my name is George from Melbourne Mobile Detailing and have been in the detailing industry for approximately 10 years with the last 4 years simply specializing in aftermarket paint protection and I will take this opportunity to try explain some of the above questions in my own terms and a way that I feel is understandable to most
Most people would have heard of the following terms (car paint protection, ceramic, glass, anti-scratch, coatings) all while in the market for a new car or just general chit chat with a few friends about detailing over lunch or a beer.
If your here reading this blog then I am sure someone, somewhere has had a discussion with you about the option of having your vehicle treated and protected from the elements.
In my opinion I feel the need to explain that there is no use or any major benefit from having up to 9 layers of paint protection applied and I would want to question, if this is just another way to extract as much cash from the customer where as on the other hand, some new car dealerships tend to employ a dedicated sales person to offer you the aftermarket protection product and package it all up like a gift which can include tinting, exterior/interior protection and sometimes even free floor mats and a toe bar just to get you over the line. Applicators, installers or sales people who offer a product with a lifetime warranty tend to also be very quick and constantly mentioning that they back their product with a lifetime warranty and may even address it a few times in their sales pitch.
The reason why this warranty gets mentioned during their selling pitch is because this is exactly what they are selling you. In majority of cases a mediocre grade product is applied sparingly over your new vehicle, behind closed doors where no one can monitor the progress then a nice fancy warranty card is offered to you. This warranty card is exactly what is getting sold to you and not so much the product itself which can even be a very light polish and not even a ceramic coating. (Best you ask what the product brand is and a quick google search may offer you more insight on the product itself) So what does this actually mean or doesn’t mean?
Let’s talk about the term car paint protection. What does it really mean?
Protection for automotive paint is simply a sacrificial barrier between the clear coat on your vehicle and the atmosphere; it is easier to explain being split into two main categories waxes/ sealants and coatings. All three of these types of products can be referred to as a layer of protection that goes onto the paint simply protecting it from the elements, and they all have different properties, strengths, weaknesses and of course durability.
Before coatings came along, wax or sealants with a 3-18 month durability was referred to as paint protection and sadly these are still offered in some workshops as a lifetime paint protection option. Coatings on the other hand can see results from 1-7 years in durability dependant on the preparation and the quality of the coating itself
There are two major industries offering paint protection, the car dealerships and professional detailing companies and in many cases you will find many offering lifetime warranties. So let’s get into what a lifetime warranty really is and what does this mean to you
Is there a paint protection that lasts a lifetime??
Currently as of 2018 and to my best of knowledge, the longest lasting coating on the market that also offers independent testing certification from TÜV SÜD (A globally recognized testing, certification, inspection and training provider located in Munich Germany) is by Autotriz™ offering products with a half life of 5+ years respectfully depending on factors such as how much the vehicle is used, how the vehicle is maintained, what products are used to wash and clean the vehicle and most importantly how well the coating was applied in the first place.
There is no coating on the market that lasts a lifetime in the real world. Yes even if you put 10 layers of any ceramic quartz pro glass coating onto a car, believe it or not anything that is man-made will not last a lifetime
The Lifetime Warranty, that wonderful use of words that many sales people and even some paint protection coating companies are now using, unfortunately is now also being used by some manufactures of coatings and by the car detailers who are applying these coatings simply to get you over the line
In many instances the lifetime warranty is a draw card used to raise the image of a product, otherwise if you just got told that the car dealership was going to put a $30 bottle of sealant onto your vehicle and would take them around 60 minutes to apply with a realistically expectation to last 6 months or so and you were expected to pay $2000 for it, do you think that any-one would actually fall for it?
This is where I believe education is key. Surely when not informed this sounds like a fantastic deal but when you break it down and understand it a little bit more then you quickly realize this isn’t all that’s it’s supposed to be
So why offer a lifetime warranty, if the product will only last a small period of time? Majority of the time these warranties have been designed to iron out any possibility that you as the customer will be able to make a claim against the product itself and make it very hard to get any repair work done without you taking the blame and forking out more cash
So how do these companies get away with selling warranties?
Our consumer laws in Australia are fairly tight, so how do these companies get away with this? The good old trusty fine print! Nearly all of these companies will have similar written contracts done up to get out of the warranty under any scenario. Let’s have a read of one that we found readily available online and for a coating that is being offered in Australia. Surprisingly this is a fairly respected brand and we are not saying that the product is bad, nor of poor quality but what we want to address how the lifetime warranty works in this specific situation. In red are the key areas of concern and we have removed any brand names as we are trying to concentrate on the wording of these contracts, not the product itself.
Have you ever looked or read some of these lifetime warranty contracts?
Here’s one we found readily available and used for general public. Please note the company and product names have been removed
******* warrant the vehicles exterior painted surface coated with ****** Paint Protection under the following Terms & Conditions from environmental induced contamination damage such as bird droppings, tar, tree sap, bug impacts and oxidation. Should this damage occur, and providing that all of the terms and conditions have been met, ****** will rectify the damage to what we deem acceptable under the “Limit of Liability”.
Period of Cover
New & Used Vehicles are covered for the life of vehicle ownership if annual service requirements are met. (See: Annual Inspection). Failure to undertake an annual service within the required period will change the period of cover to “5 Years” from the date of the last service which cannot be reversed. Once the 5 years has transpired the warranty will be terminated. Early termination can also occur at our discretion at any time without the need for notice
- Warranty cover is only valid if the Approved Applicator has issued a Warranty Card and it has been registered within 30 days of application.
- The vehicle must remain at all times registered for road use within Australia.
- Only vehicles registered as Passenger Vehicles will be warranted. Commercial vehicles of any kind will not be covered.
- Vehicles over 3 months old must require a machine polish to be carried out by an approved applicator prior to application, newer vehicles may also require a machine polish if advised by the approved applicator.
- In the event of damage / repair to the surface (ie, accident repair) the vehicle must be taken to an approved applicator for retreatment to the repaired area at the owner’s expense within 45 days.
- Warranty is in the name of the vehicle owner and cannot be transferred.
- Should a product reapplication be required (eg. vehicle accident) you or your insurer are liable for a reapplication fee, determined by the approved applicator.
- The vehicle exterior paint work must be maintained and washed regularly to ****** recommendations to prevent contamination build up (ie, fortnightly/monthly). Improper or irregular washing techniques may deem this warranty void
- Where the owner has deemed to have been careless, negligent or fails to maintain the exterior painted surface in the correct manner.
- Pre-existing damage to the painted surface.
- Damage to the coated surface by incorrect manual wash techniques, automatic car washes, brushes or contaminated wash tools that may cause abrasion, or damage caused by a third party not authorised by ******.
- Swirl marks, marring, scratches, scuffs, scrapes, chips to the painted surface.
- Damage caused by collision, accidental damage, vandalism, malicious damage, fire, hail, flood, stones, collision, surface rust, rail dust, physical damage, paint overspray, water etch or vehicle manufacturer’ defects, or defects which may be covered under a manufacturers or dealerships protection plan.
- Area’s that have not been retreated after a paint repair.
- Any loss of time or use of the vehicle while it undergoes inspections or treatments.
Annual Inspection (Lifetime Warranty)
- Annual Inspections must be carried out by an approved applicator, within 30 days before or after the anniversary date of the last service to maintain the lifetime warranty.
- Failure to undertake an annual inspection within the required period will change the period of cover to 5 Years from the date of the last service with annual inspections no longer required.
- A fee determined by the approved applicator will be charged for the Annual Inspection which includes – Exterior Wash, Decontamination and Inspection.
Limit of Liability (Claims) –
- Damage that may be covered under this warranty must be made aware to an approved applicator within 30 days, failure to comply will result in this warranty being terminated.
- A Claim “Inspection Fee” of a minimum of $198.00 is payable, this is refunded if the warranty claim is approved for repair by *******.
- Claim determination is at the sole discretion of ******, either approving the repair / retreatment by an approved applicator or refunding the application cost to the vehicle owner at a maximum of $1000 and terminating the warranty, whichever is less.
- Any dispute arising under these terms and conditions shall be governed by the law of ********, Australia, the involved parties agree to submit to the jurisdiction of that State.
End of contract
As you can see, the companies that offer such lifetime warranties have really looked after themselves and covered almost every situation while allowing them to get out of the contract in any way they want.
You could make the obvious statement that this coating in reference will generally last 5 years or under, which is feasible as majority of high grade coatings will last between 5-7years and some of the cheaper ones should get you around 2 years.
So how many consumers do you think even read or see this contract from the company before application of the product? Would you really go into a contract without reading it? Why should you have to pay an inspection fee every year? A lot of people sell their cars before 5 years any way so once again the contract is void since it can’t be passed on and let’s not forget, if you do have a claim, manage to do everything stated in this contract and the said company was having a good day then decided to accept your claim they would only cover what they deem to be a maximum of $1000 in damages only to terminate your warranty for any future claims.
WOW!! Take a moment and let that sink in a little bit here
The lifetime warranty does not actually mean the product lasts that long and I don’t know anyone that would call 5 years a lifetime. We have also noticed that most lifetime warranties offered for car paint protection are almost identical contracts while some are worse than others.
Just to add a bit of fuel to the fire we rang one of the associated applicators, as a customer of course, with a genuine inquiry to how this particular coating system can offer a lifetime warranty? What are the real conditions to this type of warranty? and whether there were any catches that we should be aware of before proceeding to purchase this option for our new car. To our disbelief there was no mention of annual inspections and we were told that the product would out live the vehicle. Nor did the authorized applicator know about the warranty card or how the process would unfold in the case of a warranty even though he/she continued to clearly notify us on many occasions that they have been applying said coating for many years without any warranty claims (Makes you think right, how can you make a warranty claim when the applicator themselves don’t even know about the warranty process)
So in conclusion
Most aftermarket paint protection packages currently on offer by dealerships and professional detailers last anywhere from around 2-7 years respectfully. Any paint protection that is offered with a “Lifetime Warranty” would surely have some type of contract filled with many clauses and loopholes that may not even be worth the paper it is written on and I would suggest reading this contract before going ahead and handing over your money
We hope some of the above information has answered most if not all your questions about the horribly confusing and downright misleading industry paint protection has unfortunately become.
Written by George from Melbourne Mobile Detailing