Every so often I get an email from a concerned matte car owner asking about minor scratches in their paint—most of the time only visible from certain angles. If they had glossy paint the answer would be simple: a light hand polishing. But, as we’ve covered before, matte paint should not be polished. Read on for a more detailed look at matte paint scratches and learn why proper maintenance is so key.
Do not polish matte paint
Polishing matte paint will gradually reverse the surface’s ability to scatter light and appear non-reflective. The car’s finish will quickly become uneven and blotchy due to irreversible damage to the matte clear coat. If you don’t have a matte clear coat, well, just consider that you’re polishing a single stage paint (in other words: you’d be removing the paint). Regardless of what traditional (glossy) car care says, do not polish your matte car, truck, or motorcycle.
Making the scratches less visible
While most matte paint scratches will be so minor that you really have to examine the car to see them, that doesn’t mean you should just live with it. Sure, you could and be perfectly, but given that matte car aren’t exactly cheap, the majority of owners ask me about fixing the problem. My answer to them traditionally comes in two parts:
Cover it up: In testing, we’ve had success covering up minor scratches (I’m talking hairline… the most common) by thoroughly cleaning and protecting the area. Often scratches are caused by small rocks (or even your pant leg brushing up against your car) that gently slice into the clear coat and create a small white-looking mark. This small, but visible imperfection is what may have caught your eye in the first place. By cleaning and protecting, we’ve found the mark becomes much less visible.
Touch it up: Aside from repainting the panel, your last resort is acquiring touch-up paint from your dealership. The dealer or manufacturer can provide you with matte touch-up paint that will match the rest of your car almost perfectly while successfully eliminating the scratch from sight. Most of the time these are applied with a very fine artist’s brush, and in some cases your dealer’s service department (or even a local detail shop) can do it for you. Again, short of repainting the panel or affected area, this is the only other non-invasive technique to completely remove scratches from matte paint.
So, if your matte car gets a scratch, don’t freak out. Come here first and send us a photo—the solution might be easier than your mind may trick you into believing. And remember, the best solution is proactively protecting your finish from the elements with a polymer based matte paint sealant.