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Is Dealership Paint Protection A Scam?

If you have ever purchased a new car from a dealer, then you might have had them try to sell you on products like PermaPlate, Xzillon, Simoniz, or Cila Jet in order to protect the paint on that brand new car that you’re buying. It’s a tempting proposition, however, a professional ceramic coating sounds like a good idea as well. But is the paint protection that the dealer offers a good substitute for an actual ceramic coating?

The sales team makes this decision sound like a no-brainer. A quick search on the internet will reveal many people with a very different opinion about the subject though. So are dealership paint protection packages a scam?

I wouldn’t necessarily call them a scam. These products might not be complete snake oil. It’s possible that they’ll technically do what they advertise. They won’t do it well though. And they also won’t last nearly as long as they claim. In my opinion, dealership paint protection packages aren’t really a scam but they ARE an absolute rip-off.

What I found really annoyed me. Dealerships are upselling people with these hopes and dreams of lifelong protection for their vehicles, with absolutely no facts to back up their claims. These paint protection packages are offered by third-party companies that barely even exist on the internet.

A search for contact info for a lot of them reveals nothing more than a P.O. box and a 1-888 phone number. Don’t get me started on their sales videos. They’re usually cartoons that show no factual info regarding the product’s application or any evidence of it protecting your paint.

What Is The Product That Dealerships Apply to Your Paint?

These protection companies have spent more time perfecting their advertising lingo than their actual product. Anyone with even the slightest knowledge of the car detailing industry will laugh at these descriptions. They use terms like “Nano” and “Crystal” that are often used with expensive ceramic coatings. They also use words like Shield, Diamond, and


Read a little further however, and they mention things like “breakthrough, cross-link polymer formulation” that will provide a permanent layer of defense for your vehicle’s paint. It sounds like rocket science to the average reader, so it must really work! To me, this looks like the work of a basic marketer that has flipped through a thesaurus.

Ladies and gentlemen, those terms above can be used to describe any enthusiast level paint sealant on the market. This kind of misleading advertising is absolutely ridiculous. When you factor in the price they’ll charge you for this paint sealant application, it becomes downright absurd.

Paint sealants are not bad though. They might not be as exciting as ceramic coatings, but they definitely do the job they were intended to do. That job is not to provide permanent protection for your paint. Even the best and most expensive professional ceramic coatings won’t last a lifetime.

Polymer paint sealants are intended to provide a sacrificial layer of protection for a few months, maybe up to a year. They are far from a one-time application type product. In reality, they’ll need to be applied once or twice per year at a minimum.

They’re also meant to be removed if a vehicle gets really dirty or needs to be polished, then reapplied. Knowing how these products work and how they perform makes the claims these protection companies make very hard to swallow. What they’re saying just doesn’t make sense.

Dealerships Know That Protection Packages Are a Huge Money Maker

Believe it or not, dealerships don’t make a lot of profit selling new cars. There isn’t as much of a margin there as you might think. A lot of their money comes from parts, service, and upselling you on silly things you don’t need.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t good at selling. As a matter of fact, they’re experts at it. Dealerships use sales tactics to play off any fears you might have in order to sell you warranties and protection packages. You might have heard your salesman make one or more of these statements:

“90% of my customers go for this”

This triggers your need to fit in or makes you think others know something that you don’t.

“Your car will be damaged if you don’t buy this”

Again, they’re playing off your fear of your shiny new car getting hurt.

“You’ve already spent $xx,xxx, what’s another thousand to protect your investment?”

They know you have money because you’re buying a new car. It’s their job to get as much of it from you as possible.

“This can only be done when the car is new, so you need to make your mind up now”

Ahhh, the classic “limited time” offer. This is meant to steer you toward making the purchase due to your fear of missing out. By the way, a paint sealant can be applied to any vehicle at any point in its life.

Your “brand new” car has already ridden on trains and sat outside in parking lots in all types of weather… for weeks. It’s already been washed at least once and is likely even covered in swirl marks because of it. Cars are only brand new when they initially drive out of the factory.

You’ve already spent tens of thousands of dollars on a new car. Now they’re telling you that the car they just said was so amazing is actually really weak. Your paint will fade, your seats will stain, and your underbody will rust unless you pay for protection. It’s a scary world and you need to pay them for protection. That’s a mob-style hustle if I’ve ever seen one.

Dealer Options to Avoid

These three options are often grouped into a general protection package for an astronomical price. Rather than break that cost down into monthly payments, here are some much wiser ways to spend your money:

Paint Protection

Dealerships have basically taken a wax or paint sealant and added the claims from some of the highest quality ceramic coatings on the market. Simply put, this isn’t real. It just doesn’t add up.

Stain Protection

Another option they’ll offer you is some kind of fabric guard to protect your seats and carpet. Much like their paint protection, this is just an every day detailing product with a massive markup.

I understand that some car buyers just want their vehicle protected and don’t want to do it themselves. There’s nothing wrong with that. All you have do is hire the right person for the job.

Bring your vehicle to a professional detailer for what’s known as a New Car Prep or a Ceramic Coating package (optional: choose add-on services to customize your protection). Detailers offer this package for their clients who want to get the most out of their new car experience.

They’ll give it a thorough cleaning, remove all the rail dust from the train that stuck to the paint, protect the leather, fabric, and carpet of your interior and even polish out the swirl marks and scratches the dealership put in your paint (you’d be amazed at how common that one is, even on luxury cars).

All of this will likely cost the same as the dealership paint protection alone, maybe less. BUT you’ll have the peace of mind knowing it was done by an experienced professional using high-quality products, that are known for their results not marketing.

They can also set you up with a maintenance plan if you would like them to continue cleaning and caring for your car on a regular basis. That is the best way to keep your car looking and feeling new for as long as possible.

Detailing At The Dealership

I don’t want to offend any dealership employees, but even they know where they stand in the detailing world. Comparing the level of quality a dealership will give you to that of a professional detailer is like comparing your kid’s T-ball league to Major League Baseball. They aren’t in the same ballpark.

As a matter of fact, it’s common for professional detailers to fix the damage from all the mistakes the dealership detailers made on a car.

The people that work in the detailing department of a dealership are usually young and inexperienced. We all have to start somewhere. Unfortunately, they have very little knowledge of high end detailing products and techniques. To put it harshly, these aren’t the people you want to trust to protect your vehicle for it’s “lifetime”. They barely know how to wash a car properly.

Hiring a professional detailer who’s passionate about what they do will make a night and day difference.


In the end, caring for your car by keeping it clean and protecting it with high quality detailing products on a regular basis is the key to making your new car last as long as possible. If you don’t want to do it yourself, that’s fine. Leave these detailing tasks to the professionals that are properly trained and experienced to do them. It’ll also save you a ton of money.

Feel free to read some of the dealership paint protection horror stories online for yourself. They appear to be endless. Make sure you educate yourself on what they’re trying to sell you and don’t give in to their pressure. If their product was so great, it would sell itself. The moment they start using your emotions to convince you to buy should throw up a big red flag.

Don’t get bullied into buying something you don’t want or need. Instead, call up a reputable detailer that is knowledgable and has the services that you need to actually protect your vehicle and stand behind their work.



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