Matte Wheel Care Basics

White Nissan GTR Wheel

As far as wheels are concerned, there are dozens and dozens of surface options ranging from chrome to clear coat. Today I’ll be talking about matte wheels, how to care for them, and why protection is really the key to keeping them in great condition. Most people don’t realize it, but matte paint (whether on wheels or the entire car) isn’t all that tricky to care for. Just to be clear – whether your wheels were powder coated or painted, care is going to be the same. When all’s said and done, the most important care you can provide for your matte wheels is protection.

Cleaning Matte Wheels

Cleaning matte wheels is pretty much the same as cleaning chrome, metal, or glossy finished wheels. The only main difference is that you want to use a silicone-free wheel cleaner, as silicone tends to make matte surface appear somewhat blotchy and uneven. You also want to avoid heavy acids as these also alter the appearance of matte paint. Yes, it’s just the wheels, but for some people wheels are more important than their paint. Additionally, you never want to polish matte wheels, coated or non-coated, as this will begin to make them appear more reflective.

Protecting Matte Wheels

When it comes to protecting wheels, there are a lot of wax based products. Unfortunately, for those who don’t know, natural wax doesn’t hold up too well in high heat. In fact, carnauba melts at around 185°F whereas your rotors can hit over 500°F quite easily when you’re braking. That heat transfers to the rims (at a lesser temperature), melting any and all wax that was once on the surface. For this reason, no matter what type of wheels you have, you should always use a synthetic formula. For protecting matte finished wheels, just avoid silicones, waxes, filling agents, and any product promising a “great shine” (typically this means one of those three ingredients are active in the formula).

When & How Often

As a general rule of thumb, I recommend washing your wheels every time you wash your car. While this doesn’t mean get into the rims and do a whole detail, it does mean you should clean the face of the wheels, between and around the spokes, etc. Protection, too, should be applied after every car wash – this will prevent pitting, etching, and anything else that brake dust can (and will) do to your rims. Over cleaning matte wheels can dry out the surface and make it appear blotchy and faded, so complete details should only be completed when needed… especially since you can prevent most of the filth just by protecting.

So if you’ve got matte wheels and you’re looking for proper care, I hope I’ve answered your questions. It’s fairly simple in that procedure is exactly the same as any other wheel surface. You can use the same brushes, same sponges… just matte specific wheel care products for the reasons listed above. The best overall advice I can give for proper matte wheel care is to protect the wheels, and that’s not just matte specific, that goes for every single surface in and outside of your car. Protection eliminates the need to “fix” an issue because whatever caused it would be shielded from the surface, therefore causing no harm. It makes sense, but as I’ve discussed before, the current state of the detailing world is reactive when it should be proactive.

Got a question about matte wheels, or any type of wheel? Drop us a comment below!