Restoring Plastic Trim On Cars: All You Need (Guide)

Restoring Plastic Trim On Cars
Restoring Plastic Trim On Cars

If you’ve driven a car with plastic trim, you know how important it is to keep it in good condition. Over time, the elements can take a toll on your vehicle’s plastic trim, causing it to dull and lose its shine. This can spoil the overall look of your car and greatly reduce its resale value, but there is good news.

Keeping the plastic trim on your car alive isn’t as complicated as it sounds. With the right information, you can restore your vehicle to its original shine with a fresh, well-maintained finish. In this detailed guide, we will walk you through the process of restoring plastic trim on cars, providing practical steps and tips for effective restoration. Let’s get to it.

Understanding the Challenge

Before diving into the restoration process, it’s important to understand what causes plastic trim to deteriorate. The main culprit is usually exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. These rays can oxidize the plastic, causing it to fade and turn a dull chalky brown. In addition, other factors such as weather and corrosion can also contribute to the deterioration of the trim. Over time, this can significantly affect the overall aesthetics of your vehicle, making it look older and actually Less well-kept.

Gathering Supplies

To restore plastic trim on cars, you’ll need to gather some essential supplies. These may include:

  • A high-quality plastic trim restoration product.
  • Clean microfiber cloths for cleaning and buffing.
  • Masking tape to protect surrounding areas.
  • Rehab options for more advanced methods from a heat gun.

Depending on the condition of your trim, you may not need all of these items, but it’s always a good idea to be prepared.

Step-by-step guide to restoring plastic trim on cars

1. Preparation

  • Clean the area: Use a mild soap and clean water to wash the plastic trim to remove any dirt, grime, or debris that may be affecting its restoration. Use a soft clean cotton cloth or brush to clean gently.
  • Dry completely: Make sure the trim is completely dry before proceeding. Use a clean microfiber cloth to clean and dry the area.

2. Assessment

  • Trim inspection: Check the extent of fading or damage. Look for scratches, dents, and other imperfections.

3. Choose the right product

  • Commercial plastic restorers: Choose a reputable plastic restorer. They often contain ingredients that restore the look of the trim and protect it from future fading while maintaining its beauty and shine.
  • DIY solution: A popular homemade solution is equal parts vinegar and linseed oil, but always test any DIY solution on a small, inconspicuous area first.

4. Application

  • Follow the instructions: If you are using a commercial product, always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Some products may require you to apply using a circular motion, while others may have different specifications.
  • Even Application: Be absolutely sure that the product is evenly distributed over the plastic trim as uneven application can result in further complications or inconsistent and unpredictable results.
  • Allow to settle: Depending on the product, you may need to let it sit for a few minutes to a few hours.

5. Buffing

  • Use a clean cloth: Once the restorer is cured or the specified time has passed, Use a clean microfiber cloth to gently buff the trim. This helps remove any excess product and gives the shine a clean finish.

6. Protection (optional but recommended)

  • Apply a UV protector: Sun damage is the main cause of plastic trim fading. To prevent future fading and damage, consider applying a UV protection spray or sealant.
  • Regular maintenance: Clean the trim occasionally to prevent dirt build-up. Using special cleaning agents designed for car trims can be a major help in maintaining a fresh look.

7. Review & Repeat (if necessary)

  • Inspect the results: Check the trim once you’re done. If it’s not to your satisfaction, you may need to repeat the process or leave the restorer on longer.

With regular maintenance and occasional touch-ups, your car’s plastic trim can keep it looking as good as new and will look great for a long time.

Protect & Maintain

Once you’ve restored your plastic trim, it’s also important to protect it from future damage. Here’s a detailed step-by-step guide for caring & protecting your plastic once it’s restored.

1. Regular cleaning

Use a mild automotive soap and water solution to clean the trim periodically. It effectively prevents dirt and grime from accumulating which can lead to premature fading or discoloration.

2. UV protection

Sun exposure is a major cause of trim fading. Make sure you apply a UV protection spray or sealant designed specifically for car trim to protect against harmful ultraviolet rays.

3. Avoid harsh chemicals

When cleaning the rest of your vehicle, be careful about chemical overspray or spillage on plastic trim. Avoid harsh soaps or solvents that can damage the plastic or its protective sealant.

4. Regular inspection

Periodically inspect the trim for signs of wear and tear or fading. Fixing problems early can help prevent more serious problems down the road and make your drive safer and more enjoyable.

5. Park carefully

Park the vehicle in a shaded area whenever possible or use a car cover to protect the trim and (the entire vehicle) from harmful direct sunlight and atmospheric pollution.

6. Reapply protective products

Protective sealants or UV protectors may wear off over time. Re-apply periodically to maintain maximum protection based on product recommendations.

7. Limit physical damage

Be extremely careful when loading or unloading items near the trim to avoid scratches or dings. If your vehicle’s trim is susceptible to damage in parking lots or tight spaces, seriously consider using edge guards.

8. Stay Informed

New products and techniques for preserving automotive plastics are constantly emerging, so keep your knowledge up-to-date by occasionally researching or talking to professionals about the latest best practices.

9. Hydration is key

Just as our skin needs moisturization, plastic can benefit from occasional treatments with products designed to hydrate and replenish its shape, preventing it from becoming brittle and providing long-lasting protection.

10. Seek professional advice

If unsure about a product or procedure, consult a professional car detailing technician. who will provide a better decision based on your specific vehicle and requirements.

By following these good practices, you can be absolutely sure that your restored plastic trim will remain in excellent and safe condition for years to come.

DIY vs Professional Restoration

Although restoring plastic trim on cars can be a DIY project, you may want to consider hiring a professional. Professional restoration services typically offer a higher level of expertise and can often achieve excellent results. However, they can also be more expensive and time-consuming. If you are confident in your abilities and have the necessary equipment and materials, you can do it yourself to get the best results.

Troubleshooting Common Problems

During the restoration process you may also encounter some common problems, For example, you may notice streaks or uneven application of the restorer product. If this happens, try applying a lighter coat and buff it more thoroughly. If you see dirt or any product residue, you can remove it by wiping it with a clean, dry microfiber cloth. If you’re having trouble, seek professional advice or consult online resources for help. Don’t hesitate and feel shy.

Final Thoughts

Restoring plastic trim on cars can be a worthwhile project that significantly improves the look and value of your vehicle and extends its life. By taking the time, you can keep your car in top shape for years to come. Whether you choose to tackle the project yourself or hire a professional, the results can be well worth the effort.


Thanks for taking the time to learn about Restoring plastic trim on cars. We hope this detailed guide has provided you with valuable, useful information and practical tips for tackling this project. Remember, with the right knowledge & tools, you can restore the shine and luster of your car’s plastic trim, increasing its aesthetic appeal and longevity. For more car care tips and advice, feel free to check out our other articles and explore resources.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top