Mercury Grey: how to care for Lexus matt paintwork

One of the key features of the limited edition Lexus RC F 10th Anniversary model is its beautiful Mercury Grey bodywork. This striking, matt paint has never been applied on any other Lexus, which has led to a number of questions from owners with regard to the cleaning and general care of this unique finish.

This post is designed to explain why special care is needed to protect the matt finish and how the bodywork can be effectively cleaned and maintained.

Mercury Grey: What makes it different?

The essential structure of a matt finish paint like Mercury Grey is identical to that of a traditional gloss finish paint. Both usually consist of four separate layers: primer coat, intermediate coat, top coat (base), and top coat (clear).

The difference between the two finishes lies in the composition of the final clear coat. A surface painted with a regular clear coat is flat and smooth and reflects light evenly, which in turn makes the bodywork appear glossy to the eye. However, a surface painted with a matt clear coat has an uneven finish that diffuses reflected light in order for it to appear less glossy.

To achieve such a matt finish, a special agent is mixed into the clear coat before its application. This matting agent introduces minute silica particles into the lacquer, which creates a microscopically textured surface finish that reduces the amount of reflected light.

Why is it important to clean and protect matt paintwork?

In view of its textured surface finish, Mercury Grey paintwork is more prone to trap dirt and other contaminants. Such materials should be washed away as soon as possible so they do not settle into the surface and become more difficult to remove. Ingrained soiling may flatten the light-diffusing texture of the paintwork and introduce unsightly patches of glossiness that will detract from the overall finish.

Similarly, proprietary car body sealants and waxes are designed to form a protective film over a painted surface, so these should not be applied to the bodywork of a car painted with a matt finish. They will flatten the surface and make it more glossy.

Lexus recommends storing the vehicle in a paved garage when not in use to protect the paintwork from contaminants and ultraviolet deterioration. If this is not possible, an appropriate vehicle cover with a fleece or non-woven lining should be used.

How should you clean Mercury Grey paint?

Lexus recommends washing Mercury Grey paintwork by hand with plenty of water in a three-stage process.

1. Soak. Wash the wheels and chassis parts first to avoid the chance of recontaminating the bodywork. Then thoroughly soak the vehicle’s bodywork with plain water from the top to the bottom to remove any loose sand and dust.

2. Wash. Gently wipe down the bodywork from top to bottom with a soaking wet chamois cloth that is frequently rinsed in plain water to clear it of contaminants.

If dirt or contaminants cannot be cleared with water alone, Lexus recommends using either a neutral detergent approved for car cleaning or the following organic cleaning solution: two teaspoons of citric acid to 200ml of distilled water. The chamois should be soaked in this solution and placed over the area for a while to allow the acid to dissolve the contaminants. Further gentle wiping should clean the affected area, though care should be taken not to rub the vehicle body.

Repeat steps one and two to clear away any remaining contaminants and residual acid solution.

3. Dry. Dry the bodywork with a dry chamois cloth before the water has a chance to evaporate and leave unsightly stains. The chamois should be laid flat against the body and gently dragged across the paintwork by laying it flat and pulling it across the paintwork by the top two corners. Care should be taken not to rub the vehicle body.

What cleaning methods should not be used on Mercury Grey?

High-pressure jet washers and automatic car washes, including brushless systems should not be used. Handheld cleaning items such as brushes and sponges are also not recommended.

Do not use alkaline detergents to wash the paintwork as they may damage the clear coat.

How do you repair minor damage to Mercury Grey?

Minor imperfections in matt paintwork cannot be rectified using traditional cutting and polishing methods. If these were to be applied, the special light-diffusing texture may be altered, leading the surface to become more flat and therefore more glossy.

In order to maintain the original matt finish it is necessary to repair and repaint the damaged panel in entirety.

Learn more: Nature’s brilliance captured in new Structural Blue paintwork

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