Clear coat not always a scam

This is my opinion as a car owner. I am not a shill for car dealers or the extras they sell.

I leased (and eventually bought) a new car in 1999. The dealer really tried hard to sell me on Clearcoat as an extra. I refused. They also tried to sell me a “feature” that every part of the car was tagged, so if it went to a chop shop, it could be traced. I refused this to. I was ready to walk away. They leased (and eventually sold) the car to me. I thought I had no clear coat.

I never waxed it because it always looked great. I got a few chips over the years, but never enough for me to seek repair.

A couple years ago, I noticed that there was a thin plastic material peeling off of headlight assemblies. It was clear coat! Yes, I have few miles on the car over the time I’ve had it. However, it has spent ~1/4 of its life in the hot sun of southwest U.S. The rest of the time was in a garage or under trees. The paint job still looks great.

There are many tags on visible parts of the of the body. They all have the same number and the manufacturers name. These are the chop shop traceable tags, another feature I had refused to cough up money.

I still have this car. It will be 15 years old next month. I think Clearcoat is a good investment, especially if you don’t want to wax it! It is well worth the $150-$300 they are asking.

Clear coat is a clear polyurethane coat that goes over the color coat. Its a two part paint system and it is standard on all cars these days, and has been for the last 30 years or so. If the dealer was trying to charge extra for the clear coat, he was trying to rip you off.

What many dealers try to sell is a protective coating that is applied over the clear coat. It is usually some type of wax and it is way over priced.

There are also protective films commonly called clear bra which is a thin, clear plastic film usually applied over the front bumper and sometimes the first four inches of hood to protect against flying rocks, debris and insects. It can also be applied to the head lights, but your head lights are a laminate anyway so if you see a pealing layer, it could be the headlight cover delaminating.

Agree @keith. Clear coat is pretty standard on most cars and for good reason. It is applied at the factory and dealers are just giving you a glorified wax job if that. I would not be surprised to find out they are charging you for something that already comes standard and doing nothing…

I think it is fairly apparent that either of the following two situations took place:

The OP confused “clear coat” paint with a glorified–and overpriced–wax job.
The dealership charged the the OP for clear-coat paint, despite the fact that it had already been applied at the factory.

I agree that the OP has likely confused what Clear Coat actually is.

If the OP paid extra money for factory"Clear Coat Paint" then they got ripped badly.
If the OP paid extra money for clear coat protectant, paint protectant, or any one of the dozens of other trade names it goes by then they were ripped on that also.

I’ve applied some of that paint protectant a few times and I can assure you it’s nothing but an overpriced, very thin wax. One trip through the car wash or several rainstorms and it’s gone.

The OP might also be referring to that invisible bra plastic film stuff that can be applied to the front of the car.

In any event, the OP needs to check his or her original paperwork and tell us exactly what it says was purchased.

Sometimes that wax job is sold as “Clear Coat Protection,” which can be misinterpreted to mean that the protection is made of clear coat rather than it being protection for the clear coat. Maybe that’s what happened here.

BTW, the invisible bra is absolutely worth it. Cars don’t have metal and rubber bumpers anymore. It’s all plastic, and painted, and the nose slopes more - i.e. you will get rock chips in your nice paint job unless you have a clear bra.

I’ve heard good things about that clear bra treatment. But I would not buy it from the dealer, guaranteed to be overpriced at closing.

Dealers often pre-load new cars with their add-ons, like the VIN etching, pinstriping, interior fabric protection, window tinting, etc. It should all appear on the paperwork and usually has a hefty markup. It’s possible the OP refused to pay for those items & still ended up with them on the car. I don’t know if the “fancy wax job” is something they do in advance or not, but I bet they do (that way the car is immediately available to leave the lot when a buyer shows up). If you don’t want any of these items, say so and be willing to walk away if the dealer cannot either show you a car you like without the unwanted add-ons or eliminate the cost. Having that stuff pre-installed makes it harder to negotiate the cost, because you end up focusing some of your attention on negotiating down/away the cost of items you didn’t ever want, but no one should pay hundreds for something that can be purchased aftermarket for less 10% of the cost.

I’ve also heard good things about the clear bra treatment; at least the one that the new Lexus dealers are selling. Bug residue after long road trips wipes off with ease. It’s probably still overpriced from the dealer though.

When I bought my 3 Toyotas, they tried to tell me they put on this clear coat protectant and I refused to pay for the $300 up sell. It’s just a glorified wax they put on the car and try to tell you it’s great. The headlights lenses need replacement. I paid $80 for a pair and they came with bulbs for my 99 Camry.

“If you don’t want any of these items, say so and be willing to walk away if the dealer cannot either show you a car you like without the unwanted add-ons or eliminate the cost.”

When I enter a car showroom and see an extra sticker on the window of each car, listing “extra equipment”, I immediately ask…“Is it possible to buy a car from this dealership without a dealer pack?” If the answer is “no”, or if they try to give me some kind of song & dance without actually answering my question, I leave and do not return.

The dealership where I bought my car changed hands last year, and recently when I was having the car serviced, I took a look at the cars on the showroom floor. I noticed that each of them had an extra window sticker listing an “eco package”…whatever that is. I didn’t have time to inquire what that package might be, but it is very possible that I won’t be buying my next car from that dealership.

I usually get the clear bra from the dealership, but pay less for it by bundling it with an extended warranty. The warranty is pure profit for the dealership most of the time, and there’s a big incentive for the finance guy to sell you one. So I say I’ll buy a full price warranty if they throw in the full clear bra for $1 (be sure to stipulate “full,” because there’s a half bra too that doesn’t protect the hood or mirrors, only the bumper). Usually the warranty is actually cheaper than the clear bra, so everyone ends up happy - I get a clear bra for a discount, a “free” (by my math, since I only really care about the bra) warranty, and the dealership gets to tick off another warranty sale in the record book.

The last 2 new cars I have purchased were 2002 Mitsubishi and 2010 Kia. They both had an additional window sticker that simply stated “Additional Dealer Markup” I simply stated “That has to go”. Both said OK. I’m sure they get enough suckers who think this is legitimate to make the $.50 per sticker quite profitable.

“A couple years ago, I noticed that there was a thin plastic material peeling off of headlight assemblies.”

“Clear bra” should not have been applied to the headlights. Hmmm…