I've Ceramic Coated the 4Runner

I spent the whole weekend, totaling 18 hours beginning Friday evening, creating what may be the only ceramic coated 3rd gen 4Runner.


Because shiny good.

With my luck, if I rolled it outside for pictures, a bird would poop on it. The coating needs 12 hours to finish curing, so it’s staying inside until I go to work in the morning.

But no. It’s more or less this: I’ve long been curious how ceramic coatings do in a real-world environment. I know people who have had their car coated, but they aren’t cars that actually get driven in, you know, weather. I can wax a car and put it under a cover for 6 months and tell everyone how great that wax held up after 6 months, but it doesn’t prove anything. I want to know.

The “CSL” goes on first, and is the actual ceramic coating. After that, two coats of the EXO are applied to make it even better or something.

A little while back I talked to a friend who has had it done, and asked what he recommended. When “pay the shop I go to four-figures to do it” was clearly off the table, he recommended the above products (Gtechniq Crystal Serum Light [CSL] and EXO v4) and showed me some pictures of a car he recently did using them. I bookmarked them and forgot about it for a few weeks.

Thanks, neighbor, for having well-contrasting siding on your house to show off the shiny green car against the green grass/leaves

A couple weeks ago I got an email which said that these products were on sale, which brought the “wow this stuff is expensive” price down into the “this stuff is expensive” category, so I pulled the trigger. It shipped, sat on my desk at work while I was out of town for a few days, then sat in my garage for a week until I (amazingly) had a full weekend I could dedicate to it.

I didn’t do a 100% paint correction; this is a 20 year old daily driver with incredibly soft (as I found out) paint. I did what I’d call a 65-70% correction before applying the coating. Yesterday I shared this side-by-side, which is the before and after of the paint correction:


Here is that same area as it stands now, with the CSL and two coats of EXO v4:

I finally understand what people mean when they say something makes the car’s color “pop” - also the camera doesn’t capture how deep the shine is

Overall I am pleased, and very much looking forward to seeing how it looks in the spring. They claim it will last 3 years or longer. Application of the product wasn’t bad. The boxes include all you need (except a plethora of microfibers) and have instructions, readily supplemented with a gazillion videos online. The EXO smells like concentrated house paint; the CSL didn’t really smell.

I also purchased Gtechniq Panel Wipe to clean the paint of residual polishing oils before applying the coating - this was the only problem I ran into, when I discovered that this paint is so soft/sensitive that the solvent was softening the top of the clear and leading to hella scratching when I tried to use it. Even watered-down isopropyl alcohol would do this (though not as bad as the Panel Wipe, which smells like strong ethanol mixed with PPG DX330). Fortunately these scratches came out with very light polishing, and through some experimentation I found that mineral spirits, of all things, wouldn’t mar the paint while providing the requisite de-greasing. I did this Saturday night so it had all night to dry any residual spirits before application of the coating today.

Everyone likes a good tape ball

Full disclosure: The engine bay is still covered in mud splashes from off-road, which is a project for another day. The interior could also really use a quick clean-up. The outside is shiny though, so there’s that. Yay.

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