Installing Opti-Coat PRO on a Shelby Mustang GT500 at Automotive Quality Solutions

“It’s Snake Oil Son – Don’t fall for any of that flim flammery” was the advice that I received from my father when I asked him about getting aftermarket paint protection on the first new car that I purchased on my own. Paint protection has received a bad reputation because of the way it was sold as an add-on at the end of the car buying negotiation. And rightly so. Traditionally, dealership paint protection products were not much more than a long lasting paint sealant. They had to be applied at the dealership every six months – and if you missed an application, the protective warranty would be voided. Well, paint protection technology has come a long way over the years – even if the car buying process hasn’t!

What is Opti-Coat PRO?

Opti-Coat PRO is a completely different permanent paint protection product. It is not sold at dealerships, and is only applied at authorized facilities. It is applied once and protects permanently.

Opti-Coat PRO is a product from Optimum Polymer Technologies that is a bit like having a wax applied to your car once and having it last forever. Imagine going through a brushless car wash and having your car come out looking freshly detailed. I mean, really detailed not just a ‘rinsed off with harsh chemicals and recycled water’ clean.

Opti-Coat PRO is a clear ceramic polymer coating that chemically bonds permanently to the factory clear coat. It isn’t a wax or sealant that will wash away or break down over time with exposure to chemicals and the environment. Opti-Coat PRO is thicker and harder than the factory clear coat and can actually absorb damage that would otherwise affect the factory paint layers. On top of physical protection, Opti-Coat has been shown to be completely resistant to acidic and alkaline environmental substances such as bird droppings, bugs, tree sap, or harsh chemical cleaners. Opti-Coat PRO will not etch or dissolve and maintains a clear, glossy finish. In fact, Opti-Coat PRO comes with a factory backed 5-year warranty protecting the vehicle’s paintwork.

The typical factory clear coat generally measures between 35 and 50 microns in thickness, which is about the thickness of a human hair. A single layer of Opti-Coat PRO can measure up to 2 additional microns in thickness, while a typical wax coating measures in at less than 0.02 microns. This significant thickness allows Opti-Coat PRO to protect against damage that would otherwise affect the factory paint. Swirl marks and light scratches are not only decreased by the harder Opti-Coat ceramic coating, the factory paint is also protected against UV damage and oxidization.

In addition to the physical protection Opti-Coat PRO provides, it is also a permanent hydrophobic surface, meaning that it easily sheds water, dirt, and road grime. This means that Opti-Coat PRO coated surfaces are easier to clean, and stay cleaner for longer.

A Peterbuilt 567 and a Shelby GT500, both Detailed and Opti-Coat treated by AQS and D&D Auto Detailing

Here at AQS we install Opti-Coat PRO on everything from daily drivers to fleets of big rigs.

Opti-Coat PRO Installation

At first glance, the Opti-Coat PRO installation process seems quite easy – simply wipe on the product and let it cure. I’ll admit that this, along with my Dad’s voice in my head (“snake oil, son”), made me leary of Optimum’s product claims initially. Now, after seeing many Opti-Coat installations and following up with car owners long after the install, I realize that Opti-Coat PRO is the real deal.

Here it AQS our Opti-Coat PRO installation process starts with a thorough hand wash, and clay bar treatment. We use only deionized water along with tools and techniques designed to minimize scratching (see our article on proper wash techniques). We then use a chemical degreaser to remove any remaining road grime, oil, or grease. The vehicle is then dried with compressed air.

At this point, the vehicle is ready for any paint correction. Swirl marks and light scratching are removed with compounding and polishing before the Opti-Coat PRO application. Any paint imperfections will otherwise be trapped under the very hard Opti-Coat PRO layer.

After any paint correction, the vehicle is then ready for the first step in the Opti-Coat PRO installation process – the application of the Opti-Coat PRO primer polish. The primer polish is a light polish that is designed to prepare the factory clear coat surface to receive the Opti-Coat. A primed clear coat surface will allow the Opti-Coat PRO to bond optimally.

Next, the vehicle is moved into our state of the art, sealed installation booth where it is wiped down, for a final time, with a mixture of alcohol and water. After we are sure that the paint surface is free of any remaining primer polish and dust, we begin the actual installation of the Opti-Coat PRO ceramic coating.

Opti-Coat PRO is a clear liquid that is wiped onto the prepared vehicle surface with foam applicator pads. Once wiped on, Opti-Coat PRO will self level and begin to bond with the factory clear coat surface as the liquid medium evaporates or flashes off. Opti-Coat PRO is applied to small 2 foot by 2 foot sections of the vehicle as there is a limited time to wipe on the product, wait a few seconds for it to properly flash, and then wipe off any remaining extra material. Applying the product to the entire vehicle can be a lengthy process.

Great care is taken to avoid missing any areas as well as high spots (areas where the excess Opti-Coat PRO is not removed in time). The specialized, high-intensity lighting in our sealed installation booth help us to insure that the Opti-Coat PRO product is installed properly.

At AQS we then take things a step further by baking the freshly coated vehicle. We bake the vehicle at close to 150 degrees to speed the curing and hardening process. Opti-Coat PRO is normally dry to the touch after 30 minutes and ready for water exposure after one hour. The product is ready for hand washing (with specialized OPT shampoo) after one week and is chemically resistant after one to two weeks. Opti-Coat PRO reaches full hardness after approximately 30 to 60 days (depending on relative humidity and temperature).

Once Opti-Coat PRO is cured then the real magic happens. Water, dirt, and road grime rinse right off as they don’t adhere to the clear coat surface. Bugs and bird droppings also rinse away easily and won’t etch if mistakenly left on for too long. Opti-Coat PRO also provides an invisible shield, protecting a car’s finish from swirl marks and light scratches.

Opti-Coat PRO left to harden on its own.

We took some extra Opti-Coat PRO solution and allowed it to cure on it’s own – here is the glass-like crystals that remained.

Do I really need it?

Also rooted deeply in my initial mistrust of after market paint protection was the question, “Wouldn’t car manufacturers use something like this in their clear coat already?” And unfortunately, the answer is “no”. Auto manufacturers are in a very competitive market, each trying to cut costs and maintain profit margins while supplying ever more complex vehicles. In this situation something needs to be cut or left out to keep the vehicle cost attractive to potential buyers. As a result, manufacturers spray ever thinner paint and clearcoat layers. In fact, certain manufacturers clear coat is so thin that traditional paint correction and wet sanding methods can no longer be used for minor scratch repair. Suddenly a simple scratch repair turns into a panel repaint which can adversely affect resale value down the road. So the protective properties of Opti-Coat PRO pay off down the road by helping to keep the factory finish looking its best.

Does it really work?

So, does it actually work? Absolutely. A quick internet search through car enthusiast websites, forums, and blogs shows tremendous support for this product. You can bet that if the product doesn’t work, car enthusiasts will tear it apart on internet forums. But we wanted to see it with our own eyes as well. Before we offered our Opti-Coat PRO installation service to the public, we tried it on our own cars and tested it on scrap panels here in the shop and we’ve done quite a bit of rigorous in-house testing. In all of our testing, Opti-Coat PRO never ceases to amaze. Cars and trucks that are covered in harsh winter road chemicals or green with spring pollen look showroom beautiful after a quick rinse. We spent hours talking with Dr. David Ghodoussi (Dr. G), the founder of Optimum Polymer Technologies perfecting our application technique. We’ve determined that the surface preparation before the actual product application is the most important step to a Opti-Coat PRO installation. Opti-Coat PRO forms a chemical ceramic bond with molecules of the factory installed clear coat. Anything that comes between the Opti-Coat and the clear coat subsequently prevents the chemical bond from happening and will minimize the effectiveness of the product.

So, yes, it really works, but it has to be applied correctly and under the right conditions. Here at Automotive Quality Solutions, we’ve gone through great lengths to perfect our application process and stand behind the Opti-Coat PRO product completely.

What about Opti-Coat PRO+?

Never resting on their laurels, OPT has created a new advanced formulation that when coated over the original Opti-Coat PRO adds even more gloss and slickness. Opti-Coat installers in tropical areas were finding problems with water spotting on Opti-Coat PRO coated vehicles. As water droplets evaporate, any minerals dissolved in the water get left behind, leaving a drop shaped spot on a painted surface. Chemical engineers at OPT went to work to solve the water spotting problem and developed Opti-Coat PRO PLUS. PRO PLUS was such a hit in tropical areas that they have decided to introduce the product world wide. Opti-Coat PRO PLUS is a second layer of coating added over the original protective coating Opti-Coat PRO. Thirty minutes after applying Opti-Coat PRO, our installers then apply PRO PLUS in a similar manner. PRO PLUS enhances gloss and slickness as well as increases the coatings hydrophobic qualities, allowing water to sheet off quickly. If water doesn’t stay on the surface, it won’t evaporate on the surface and leave water spots behind.

Benefits of Opti-Coat PRO at AQS

  • Low Maintenance – Never wax your car again. Opti-Coat PRO/PRO+ sheds water, dirt, bird droppings, road chemicals, and bugs with ease – simply hand wash or drive through a brushless car wash for a beautiful shine.
  • Factory Authorized Installation – Opti-Coat PRO/PRO+ is only installed by trained factory authorized installers.
  • Dust Free Installation – Here at AQS we install Opti-Coat PRO/PRO+ in our state-of-the-art, sealed filtered air booth. High-intensity multi-angled lighting and a filtered air system insure that the coating is installed in a dust free environment.
  • Baked Installation – Upon completion the vehicle is baked at over 150 degrees to speed the curing and hardening process. As of this writing, AQS is the only factory authorized installer to offer this technique.
  • Hydrophobic – Opti-Coat PRO/PRO+ naturally sheds water and dirt with ease.
  • Tough and Permanent – Opti-Coat PRO/PRO+ cannot be removed with degreasers or harsh soaps. The chemical bond is permanent and can only be removed by buffing with an aggressive compound.
  • Chemically Resistant – Opti-Coat PRO/PRO+ stands up to acids and corrosive substances like bird droppings and tree sap.
  • Scratch Resistant – Opti-Coat PRO/PRO+ is harder than factory clear coat and stands up to swirl marks and minor scratching.
  • Non-Oxidizing – Opti-Coat PRO/PRO+ will not oxidize and locks in gloss for a permanently beautiful finish.
  • UV Protection – Opti-Coat PRO/PRO+ provides enhance protection from damaging sunlight.
  • PRO PLUS – Now with the added benefits of Opti-Coat PRO PLUS – enhanced gloss, slickness, and water shedding properties.