Matte black wheels on a pearl white Mercedes AMG with blacked out windows…ya that sounds pretty good. Now before you go out and buy one, let’s make sure that you’ve thought it through. There are a few things to consider when it comes to matte wheels. Mind you, “consider” does not mean concerned about. Matte wheels are an awesome look and I want to encourage you to get a set. But like any new purchase, knowing what to expect can prevent a lot of issues.
Before you roll out a few hundred (or thousand) dollars, you’ll want to make sure of three things: how they were painted, how you’re going to clean them, and how you’re going to protect them.
1. Powder Coated
Can’t argue with this one. If you’re going to get newly painted wheels, powder coating them as opposed to painting them is the way to go. Powder coating offers you a few luxuries that you can’t get with paint.
- Durability: You can achieve a much thicker coating without the risk of paint running. This can be achieved because of the electrostatic powder process which offers a uniform application, even on complex shapes. Powder coating offers corrosion, abrasion, acid, and solvent resistance.
- Impact: Unlike paint, powder coating is 100% VOC free or near 100%. This makes the process of coating the wheels environmentally sound as well as safe for the technician performing the work. It contains zero solvents (making it VOC Free), so no oven is required, thus eliminating that energy required. Powder Coating overspray can also be recycled, producing nearly zero waste.
- Correcting: Powder coating offers a sense of ease. Damaged wheels and poorly coated areas can be easily fixed.
It’s an easy decision. If you’re going for some new shoes on your car, ensure that they are powder coated to reduce the amount of concern when it comes to damage and repair costs.
2. Wheel Cleaning
Cleaning the wheels will be key to their longevity. Like any old car wash, if the wheels and tires aren’t cleaned properly, the whole car looks a bit dirty. When it comes to matte in particular, the products and tools used are crucial. Don’t get me wrong; when I say crucial, it doesn’t mean difficult or anything, it simply means necessary.
- Cleaning Products: The matte look needs to be preserved with the use of proper products. If you’ve read any of our other posts about matte paint, we go over the microscopic level of matte finishes and how it looks the way it does. For matte wheels, like matte paint finishes, the products can’t contain waxes, silicones, or any other fillers, otherwise they will create a shine on the wheels. A proper matte wheel cleanser will work to break down brake dust, road debris, salt, and other contaminants chemically. By working chemically, you won’t have to scrub the wheels and risk damaging the finish. An improper wheel cleanser will have either a highly acidic or highly basic properties. Although these components are often used for deep cleaning, they can be damaging and can cause the wheels to turn white or cloudy.
- Cleaning Tools: The outdated wheel cleaning brushes are the ones you could get at Walmart for a couple of dollars and have harsh bristles and a metal wire stem in the middle. I hope that is clue
enough for those of you whom are still using them to stop. These brushes are highly damaging to ANY wheel, let alone a matte finished wheel. You’ll want to get a Wheel Woolie. They have a plastic stem in the middle and a microfiber brush head that provides safe effective cleaning for all wheel surfaces.
3. Wheel Protection
- Protecting Products: Going back to the fact that the best products used for cleaning matte wheels do so chemically, there’s no reason to make it’s work too hard. By sealing the wheels with a matte wheel sealant, you can provide a layer of coverage to the wheels against all contaminants that will make them easy to remove. A product like this can last half a year, but it’s usually best practice to go ahead and reapply every other car wash (1x month). The difference with matte wheel sealants is that they need to have a high heat resistance. Carnauba waxes have a melting point around 180 degrees, silicones are about 280 degrees. Wheels can reach in excess of 400 degrees while driving, so you’ll need something stronger than either of those. Oils are the best bet. They are strong and durable to protect while still providing the same matte look you sought out.
Matte wheels are a nice accent to some cars. By knowing what to expect and what to look for, you’ll be better prepared to have and maintain a nice set of shoes for your car. When getting ready to purchase/paint your wheels, powder coating the wheels will offer a nice uniform look while providing a more durable protection than painted wheels. Then sealing the wheels with a matte wheel sealant will allow the clean-up process to be much simpler and safer. Neglecting the wheels with the wrong products and tools will prove costly down the line.
Matte wheels are popular nowadays, there’s no sense fighting that. Know what the expect and you’ll find yourself ahead of the curve.