Matte Finishes are more prevalent than ever, and they require special care! What used to be reserved for high-end foreign exotics and custom shops can now be found at your local Chevy or Ford dealer. Matte Finishes, available as a vinyl wrap or a paint job, offer enhanced visual aesthetics for sporty or high-end nameplates, namely muscle cars and exotics. A matte finish, by definition, is one that is dull and flat; without a shine. Basically, matte finishes do not reflect light, which is why they're not shiny to begin with. If you just purchase a new Mustang, Camaro, Challenger, Hyundai, BMW, or Mercedes with a matte decal or matte paint job, you might be asking yourself how do I clean and protect this?!
You've come to the right place! As a problem-solving company, McKee's 37 has a product for every square inch of your vehicle, inside and out. First and foremost, do not use a conventional car wax or polish on a matte finish! You can wreak havoc, and believe me, replacing the matte wrap on a hood, or re-refinishing a matte paint job, can cost thousands. Vehicles with matte wraps or matte paint jobs require special care, which is why we developed special products. My goal was to take the guesswork out of how to clean, protect, and maintain a vehicle with a matte graphic or paint job.
Note: Before we dive in, I want to make it clear that satin finishes (slightly more gloss than matte) require the same special care and products. Everything that applies to a matte finish in this article will apply to a satin finish (wrap or paint) as well. Disclaimer: If you call and say "Hey Nick my car has a satin finish and I read your article about cleaning and protecting matte finishes...how do I care for my satin finish?" The only thing you will hear is me hanging up the phone in a fit of rage because you didn't read this entire article! Just kidding!
Reason behind the madness:
Why do certain cars have a matte hood or graphic to begin with? Because it looks cool, duh! Alright well, there is another reason too. Matte finishes trace their lineage back to muscle cars and race cars. The idea behind a matte hood or graphic was to prevent light from reflecting off a shiny hood and blinding the driver. But like I said, the main reason is because they look cool! You'll find matte finishes on Camaros, Mustangs, Challengers, and Chargers right off the showroom floor! Heck, even the new Subaru Outback and Forester offer a matte graphic on the hood as a factory-installed option!
Meat and potatoes:
First and foremost, there's nothing special about washing a matte finish, besides the obvious: do not use dish soap, and stay away from cheap over-the-counter car washes found at your local big box store. As the previous owner of a 2019 Camaro SS 1LE with a matte black hood, I found our Xtreme Foam Formula Auto Shampoo to work best on this type of finish. Use a soft wash mitt, like our Premium Gold Chenille Wash Mitt, and a quality drying towel such as the Glacier 1100. Otherwise, there's not much a science behind it. Some car care manufacturers offer a wash specific for matte finishes, but I think that's just bogus marketing. Oh, and uh, if you were wondering, yes I sold my Camaro and replaced it with a Miata. 160 horsepower driven at 10/10ths is more fun than 455 horsepower driven at 2/10ths!
Matte Finish Cleaner & Protectant
The first product we offer to keep the matte finish on your vehicle protected from UV rays, bug splatter, bird droppings, and other environmental pollutants would be our Matte Finish Cleaner & Protectant. Think of this as a spray wax that was specially developed for the unique requirements of matte finishes. This product is easy to use - spray on, wipe off - and it provides UVA and UVB protection. Matte Finish Cleaner & Protectant is designed to be applied to clean surface. You can also use it at a car show to remove light dust and fingerprint smudges. It will not streak or smear!
Like I mentioned earlier in this article, the products and process used for cleaning and protecting a matte finish is the same as that for a satin finish. Pictured above is my 2019 Camaro SS 1LE, which oddly enough, had matte and satin finishes (unusual to have both on the same vehicle). Here's the deal: the hood was a vinyl wrap that was matte black. The molded components, like the mirror, front splitter, and rear spoiler, were a satin black. Our Matte Finish Cleaner & Protectant works equally well on both types of materials and finishes.
For best results, Matte Finish Cleaner & Protectant should be applied after every wash for maximum UV protection. This will help prevent the matte finish from dulling over time. It's worth spending 5 extra minutes after washing your car to apply a quick coat. Like I mentioned, Matte Finish Cleaner & Protectant truly is effortless to apply, especially if you use it in conjunction with our Gold 360 Microfiber Towels.
Matte Finish Ceramic Coating
Another option to protect the matte finishes on your vehicle is our Matte Finish Ceramic Coating. Unlike its spray-and-wipe counterpart that lasts months, Matte Finish Ceramic Coating lasts years. It is the ideal option for the best protection possible. As you'll see in one my videos below, Matte Finish Ceramic Coating is what I applied to the hood of my Camaro SS 1LE. It's fairly easy to apply given you follow the directions, and the extra time invested is well worth it. Matte Finish Ceramic Coating was formulated specifically for the unique requirements of matte and satin finishes, from wraps to paint jobs and molded pieces like those found on my Camaro.
Applying Matte Finish Ceramic Coating is fairly simple. First, you'll want to wash and dry the vehicle. Then, mix up a solution of our N-914 Rinseless Wash at a 1:8 dilution (concentrate:water) to wipe down the surface, ensuring previously applied silicone oils and waxes are removed. Then, working a small section at a time, apply a few drops of Matte Finish Ceramic Coating directly onto the included Coating Applicator, and apply side-to-side, then up-and-down. Immediately buff off excess using a lint-free microfiber towel, like our Orange Brushed Edgeless 365. It's really important that during removal you focus on firm, short strokes with the towel, making sure to flip it often. Repeat this process section by section until the entire surface has been coated. Then, keep away from moisture for 24 hours while the coating cures. Maintain the protection with Matte Finish Cleaner & Protectant.
Initially after applying the coating, the matte or satin finish will exhibit slightly more sheen than before. This is temporary as the coating cures. Matte Finish Ceramic Coating will not make the surface glossy! It will enhance the current finish, whether it's matte or satin. Older matte finishes will be restored to like-new condition, while new matte finishes will be protected against the elements.
This hood belongs to a 2017 Dodge Challenger Hellcat:
There you have it....caring for the matte finish on your vehicle isn't rocket science. It's worth noting that the matte hood on my Camaro SS 1LE was a vinyl wrap, that was applied at the factory. The Challenger (and Charger) utilize a matte paint job for their hood (decals on the side, where applicable). A matte finish paint job is far more durable than a vinyl wrap, so kudos to Chrysler for forking over the extra cash for a painted finish instead of a wrapped finish. I don't believe any auto manufacturers offer a matte finish wrap over the entire vehicle from the factory. Mercedes, BMW, and Hyundai offer matte finish paint jobs.
Did you just buy a vehicle with a matte finish?
If you answered yes, then buy the Matte Finish Ceramic Coating Kit. It contains everything you need to protect the matte or satin finish on your vehicle, and you save a ton of money versus purchasing everything separately.
Do you prefer to watch videos instead? Then check out these great resources on YouTube!