“Can I take my matt painted car to a car wash?” 

Photo by serjan midili on Unsplash

“Can I take my matt painted car to a car wash?” is a question that sometimes pops up in the automotive industry. Actually, you can. But you should be extremely careful. Customers that show up with matt painted cars will probably give car wash operators a headache, because the paint is so sensitive.  Here’s a few tips.

About 10 years ago it suddenly became a trend: matt paint on cars. It looks really cool but it turned out to be quite impractical in many ways.

Cupra, one of the manufacturers of matt paint, has a few tips for owners of cars that don’t shine. Some are quite extreme. They recommend, for example, that you store your vehicle in a garage, away from direct sunlight, rain, wind and ground moisture. If you need to wash it, first remove dust and coarse dirt and use a special cleaner for matte paint if you want to get rid of insects, grease stains and fingerprints.

Then about the actual washing: Cupra recommends washing the vehicle by hand always. Use a neutral cleaner with a soft microfibre cloth without polish or hard waxes. Then rinse the vehicle again with plenty of water and let it air dry.

Taking it to a car wash

If you do want to take the car through a rollover or a washing tunnel, use a pressure gun and avoid contact with the cleaning injector. Make sure the brushes are of the soft type and never, EVER select washing programs that contain wax. “But you should still be extremely careful when washing them”, Kupra concludes on their website.

German tourist and automobile club ADAC recommends cleaning a matt painted car with a high-pressure cleaner or, as an alternative, visiting a car wash “with textile washing material without wax preservation”. According to the experts, the optical properties of matt paintwork can be altered by mechanical influences – such as the brushes of a car wash (caution should generally be exercised here in icy temperatures). This smoothes the surface and makes it shinier. Wax, for example, may close the fine pores of the matt lacquer and result in a glossy surface.

As a much cheaper alternative to a matt paint finish, the ADAC advises a corresponding film coating. This is something that can be done by specialized detailing companies.

Or take your matt painted car to a self-service carwash and tread carefully. The word care seems to have a special meaning when it comes to matt paint.

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Author: Rene Passet

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