BMW's Matte Paint Requires Sharp Attention


Few factory exterior paints turn heads like BMW's collection of "frozen" matte colors; a pink Chevrolet Spark we drove earlier in the year is a close runner-up. The dull finish of BMW's frozen paints are easily mistaken for a high-end, aftermarket custom repaint or vinyl car wrap instead of a color from the BMW option list that can be ordered alongside heated seats and a blind spot warning system. We recently tested BMW's 2013 650i Gran Coupe clad in a striking Frozen Bronze paint color; it left us wondering about caring for the expensive $3,500 paint option.

The paint is never shiny like a traditional finish, so it's hard to tell when the car is dirty. It's glorious because BMW's frozen paints could be the lowest-maintenance paint ever since they look clean even when filthy. But how often should owners wash it? What about wax, polish or sealants to protect the pricey finish?

The paint doesn't need as much maintenance as regular paint because BMW's first warning cautions that waxes and polishes can damage the paint by giving unwanted shine to the desired dull luster. Ruh-roh. Buffing with a machine or the wrong product can create shiny spots and uneven surfaces. Nothing even mildly abrasive is recommend on frozen colors, either, so glazes, compounds and quick detailers are also out.
Hand washing is the preferred method for washing BMW's frozen colors. No surprise — BMW recommends its own brand of car shampoo, bug remover and sheepskin wash mitt to care for matte colors. The most important part of maintaining a frozen color is keeping the surface free of contaminants, Matthew Russell, BMW's product and technology communications manager, said in an email. BMW's bug remover is recommended immediately after any contaminants touch the paint, including insects, tree sap, bird droppings, tar and oils. BMW warns regular microfiber cloths shouldn't be used, and excessive rubbing can create a glossy spot in the paint. OK, now this paint is starting to sound finicky.

Want to take a frozen-colored Bimmer through an automatic car wash? There are guidelines for that, too. Touch-less car washes are preferred over brushed ones, and brushes must be soft ones, not plastic bristles. The no-wax requirements also apply to automatic washes, so pick a wash cycle without a wax.

BMW's frozen paints require a different approach to care and maintenance. It may intimidate those who previously haven't put any more thought than a $10 quick wash into caring for a car's paint. A few of our editors second-guessed choosing the fancy matte paint after hearing the damage prevention precautions. Those warnings shouldn't intimidate shoppers who are already somewhat meticulous about car care, however. For some, it may already be second nature to freak out when tree sap hits the car's hood.     

Research the 2013 BMW Gran Coupe
2013 BMW M5: Up Close 
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By Joe Bruzek | November 13, 2012 | Comments (8)



I wonder why they couldn't use optical dullers like they do for matte and satin varnishes. The surface is just as slick and smooth as with glossy varnishes, but there are additives that make it look less shiny. You can polish and wax it just like gloss varnish and it never looks shiny.

Hmm, performance-wise, I think these cars are far ahead of others. But when it comes to styling, it seems that these are demanding as far as maintenance is concerned. If regular microfiber cloths are not allowed to use for these cars, you may need to look at other options to clean it. Even automatic car washing needs to follow a set of guidelines!

Hi there

My thoughts on Matte paint ?
Well, personally speaking, I don't actually like them. It looks like a paint job half done but then again everyone has their own tastes and who am I to complain about them. I personally believe that considering the matte finish is a finish to be desired for, I also believe that for what little it has to offer, it is far too tedious a paint surface as far as car paint maintenance is concerned. You get very little appeal from a visual perspective and you basically can't maintain it without ruining the matte finish. Did I say ruin ?? Well, there's a catch to that one too. You really won't ruin the surface as long as you don't use an abrasive. You really won't get a shiny spot unless you flatten the matte finish on the paint and to do that, you must use an abrasive. The best thing I could recommend for maintaining this paint, not just on BMW'S but on anything that has a matte finish is nothing but a paint cleaner to keep the paint clean. This will keep the paint looking new with the most minimum possible shine. Once you start moving up to polishes, the shine will somewhat increase in strength but, let me add, it is rather a nice matte shine, not a gloss shine. You would have to see this to understand what I am talking about when it comes to this sort of detailing. This isn't your usual paint correction. This is paint correction to minimize shine, not maximise it. Although I don't own a matte finish car, I do own a matte finish bike and have tried this method and let me just add, I have even polished my matte surfaces not by machine of course but by hand using applicator pads and the results are astounding. You would have to try this to know what I am talking about but the results are well worth it. The only thing you have to remember is no abrasives. If you scratch the paint surface, your in serious trouble because to remove scratches you have to use abrasives with machines and then you will get flat spots which will look like shiny spots. Just paint cleaners and soft polishes using applicator pads and your car will look stunning


It also precludes the number one paint protection process I use of these soft, environmentally safe paints, the clear "bra" or film.

Sorry, they aren't ready for primetime in my view and appear to be a giant hassle for a daily driver. Wash it all you want, that doesn't stop rock dings and I see no way to repair them as well as a traditional finish.

Suprisingly,the demand for low gloss finishes continues to rise. We see it on the aftermarket side and it is growing to more and more options on the factory delivered side as well. Honestly, we thought the demand would fade after a few years but it showing real staying power. Nice article revealing some of the maintenance issues.

Andy Leeper

I own a 2013 frozen gray M5. I am very careful to avoid scratches but I would do the same with a gloss finish.Swissvax(expensive) and Dr. Beasley(not) make quality products to care for the paint. You don't notice when it is dirty and hand washing is a must. Because of the hype I have been very careful with the paint. I really don't think it is any more difficult to care for just use the correct opaque products. Would I buy another frozen color, maybe but for sure Frozen gray.

jon jon

A ridiculously stupid fad that cannot disappear soon enough.


Still Completely Thrilled and Satisfied. I purchased my 2013 BMW 640i Gran Coupe in Frozen Bronze Metallic. It has been about 18 months now of ownership and I wouldn't change a thing. The paint always look great, even with light dust or dirt. I only wash my car about every month or so, by hand, and can not complain. In fact it has been the easiest paint to maintain clean. A simple dusting once a week and it's beautiful. I am a fanatic about my car's appearance and take care not to scratch of dent the finish. As a precaution I purchased a paint protection insurance when the car was new that will cover a repaint or touch up. Fingers crossed have not had to use it yet!
This is an amazing paint that shifts in hue and tint during different times of the day. During bright day light it is truly a glowing Bronze, and as evening approaches it turns to a wonderful seductive chocolate velvet. Wow!

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