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2022 RSQ3 SE in Dayton Grey, C&S, red calipers
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I am considering having the exterior of the car and paint work professionally protected. There are a plethora of different types of coatings (and costs), I don't know which one will give the best value and protection. A company in Inverness uses X-kote and ULTIMAXX I've never heard of these preparations, does anyone have an opinion about these products? Costs can run up to £800/900 for a 2 coat 3 yr protection. What do you use ?
I don't want to get into buying all the gear and DIY. Thanks.

Mike
 

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It's a minefield Mike, truth be told we are talking about a product that is a few microns thick. The key characteristic is the skill of the detailer in preparing the surface in the 1st place. I paid circa £1500 for the RS4 back in 2018, a Gyeon product was used and it looked amazing for a few weeks before deteriorating quite rapidly. I'm not sure I'd pay big money for a coating again.
 

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Presume you are talking about ceramic coatings rather than Paint Protection Film (PPF)?

If so, you are paying a fortune for something, that providing you have a garage to allow it to cure for 24 hours and not subject to the elements, is not that difficult to do yourself.

The hard work is the preparation which on a new car should be minimal ( no real need for significant paint correction, claying, polishing etc).

These Coatings still require maintenance washes etc if not to degrade rapidly even though they are quoted as having a duration of several years.

If you wash your car reasonably often you can get results that are nearly as good by using spray sealants and waxes at a fraction of the cost ( bearing in mind I am about the fussiest person you could meet on car bodywork - my salesman quakes when I inspect a new car before I take delivery)! This is the route I go as I’m less bothered about endurance as I do wash my car regularly anyway as due to my OCD I can’t bear for it to be dirty.

However use of these products can be up to a claimed year for sealants ( eg Meguiars Fast Finish) or 6 months for wax ( eg Bilt Hamber Double Speed Wax) There are also pretty effective products to suit all budgets ranging from those at Halfords or Amazon to the more bespoke end of the market. I have tried more of these than I should own up too but could certainly provide some recommendations if required from my experience but I suspect I have only touched the tip of the iceberg on what is available.

As previously mentioned whatever coating you have doesn’t provide any real structural protection against chips etc - it is a chemical barrier first and foremost that improves hydrophobic behaviour ( ie provides beading etc).

PPF of course is a different animal altogether where your car is covered in like “cling film”. This does provide some physical protection. I was tempted to go with that after my Q3 got bonnet stone chips within the first 100 miles! In the end I decided against it as:
1. It is not invisible
2. It is significantly more expensive than a bonnet respray
3. Specific maintenance is necessary to not damage the film

so far, 3.5 years on I have lived with the stone chips - promising myself I will treat it to a bonnet respray if I still have the car at 5 years old!

My recommendation would be that you have a look on YouTube, if you haven’t already, at the various detailing channels to get a view of what might best suit your needs / aspirations - there are 100s of them.
 
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