How to clean and restore plastic trim | Autoblog Details

Dirty and faded trim can be a nightmare to restore once stained

Dirty and faded trim is not only an eyesore, but can be a challenge to keep clean and a nightmare to restore once stained. Today we are going walk you the steps of how to maintain black exterior plastic on this episode of Autoblog Details. Watch all our Autoblog Details videos for more quick car care tips from professional detailer Larry Kosilla.

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Know Your Enemy

The most common form of plastic degradation, or fading, is caused by UV exposure. UV light breaks down the polymer bonds within the plastic causing a slow deterioration of its flexibility and color retention.

First, wash the plastic to remove any loose debris and road grime. Next, spray all-purpose cleaner liberally on the plastic to remove any remaining oils that will prevent the dye from sticking. Allow the cleaner to sit for two to three minutes. Then scrub the plastic with a stiff bristle brush. Use circular motions with medium downward pressure. This process may need to be repeated several times if leftover wax residue is reluctant to be removed.

Rinse And Dry

Afterwards, rinse the area thoroughly and dry with compressed air or a vac and blow machine. It's imperative the plastic be 100 percent dry in order for the dye to penetrate the pores of the trim. Next, tape off the surrounding areas with masking tape to avoid cleaning up splatter or drip stains later.

Apply the Dye

With gloves on, and making sure the cap is tight, shake the dye bottle for 20 seconds for consistent color mixing. Out of direct sunlight, apply a few drops at a time to a disposable foam paintbrush. Wipe in overlapping crosshatch motions to ensure every direction is evenly covered. Then allow 15 to 20 minutes for the dye to dry.

Recoat and Let Dry

Avoid moisture or excess wiping until then and add a second coat by repeating the same process. Once completed, remove the masking tape and discard the paintbrush. This process can be done once or twice a year depending on the level of damage at the time of first installation, and how much UV radiation the vehicle was exposed to on a regular basis.

Remember, once your trim begins to fade the chemical breakdown process within the plastic has begun and cannot be reversed, much the same as hair turning grey with age. The only remedy is dying the plastic on a regular maintenance schedule.

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