How to Permanently Restore Black Plastic Trim?

VD October 10 2021

When you have a freshly detailed car, the faded black plastic trim areas of the bodywork are one thing that can ruin its look. There was a time when these had a deep black color when they left the factory, but over time, their color has changed to an old and tired-looking grey. When we look at the exterior car features, it gets exposed to various elements and gets prone to fading. It’s time to think about how to permanently restore black plastic trim.

After spending a lot of time in detailing, if you find faded plastic bits on the exterior, it will never look that good. You must be wondering how to permanently restore black plastic trim because the black color always looks smooth and clean while offering the contrast that makes your car's paintwork pop.

There can be different reasons why the black plastic on your car has become old. Sometimes, it can get faded due to excessive exposure to sunlight or just by being in contact with dirt and grime over time. The primary reason for color fading is the harmful ultraviolet rays that are present in sunlight. These rays are very much capable of damaging plastic to a great extent, which in its turn loses its original color and looks pale. Some of the various other reasons are, it can become old due to being exposed for a long time or because of having come into contact with chemicals.

Since there are so many different kinds of plastics used in cars nowadays, the color difference will probably be minimal. But, you will definitely see a difference between the plastic that has been there forever and the new replacements. The good news is that you can actually restore faded black plastic on your car without too much hassle.

So, if you own a car whose features have deteriorated over time, here are the guidelines on how to permanently restore black plastic trim.

What are the available methods to permanently restore black plastic trim?

Melting plastic with a heat gun

Using a heat gun or a torch can be a short-term solution if you look for ways how to permanently restore black plastic trim, but the majority of experts don’t recommend it, as it can damage the plastic. You need to keep in mind that a torched plastic may turn grey and dull again if you don’t do anything to repair it.

If you keep repeating torching, it can damage the plastic further, and therefore, you will be required to replace the plastic trim with a new one. Buying a new one can be pretty costly for you because it depends on your vehicle as well as the manufacturer.

Using a trim dressing

This is known to be the most time-consuming process and may have the shortest life. Although dressings look very good, there is a drawback that they wash away after 3-6 weeks. They need to be applied in almost every car wash, while the majority of trim dressings may leave a few stains when the product gets wet, and this can run down the side of the vehicle. This is one of the easiest ways how to permanently restore black plastic trim.

Using a solution finish trim restorer

Using a plastic trim restorer is the most preferred method because it is a powerful product, but one needs to use it with care in order to avoid damaging any parts of the exterior of the vehicle. Before applying it to the part of the trim that you like to restore, you need to familiarize yourself with the product.

You can wash the car, including the trim parts, and then go for a degreaser to move away from the dirt. When ready, you can apply a few drops of the permanent black plastic restorer on an applicator pad and then rub it on the trim’s surface. You are required to go through the entire process slowly and make sure that you are finished a single section of trim before you proceed to the next one.

Using the restorer sparingly may not give you the desired results. It’s better to apply it liberally so that maximum blackness can be restored for your car's exterior. You can keep on repeating this process until all parts of trim show great results, and then let it dry before applying a good quality wax to seal it up.

Using car detailing kits

There’s a need to know the direct damage caused by sunlight and the primary reason for this color fading. The easiest way to restore black plastic trim is to bring back its original color. You may take help from car detailing kits, but make sure that you obtain one with natural ingredients and no chemicals.

The kit should contain solar bleaching powder and some other components like ammonia and mineral spirits. These ingredients will kick out the old color and give your vehicle a shiny new look. You can also use these materials separately; however, using them as per guidelines on the kit covers is important in order to get desired results in less time.

Where do you find it? Just go over all exterior features in detail in order to see if there is any damage that needs restoration.

How do you use it? Apply the solar bleaching powder on the faded areas and rub gently. If required, add a little amount of water to make a paste and then apply it carefully to avoid damaging other features. After this process, take mineral spirits and ammonia in equal parts and mix both together in a plastic bucket or tray. Dip cotton swabs in this solution and dab them on black plastic trim for about 5 minutes so that the color changes from greyish to black again. As soon as you finish applying these chemicals, rinse off with fresh water and dry off with a towel. Repeat the same steps after every three days for desired results within two weeks’ time.

How does it work? The solar bleaching powder contains sodium percarbonate in its composition, which when activated by water helps in removing the old color from the plastic. It has a mildly acidic property that acts on faded areas and restores them to their original state. You can try using other components like hydrogen peroxide or oxalic acid, but these are hazardous to your health. So if you want to remain safe, opt for natural ingredients prescribed in car detailing kits.

The other chemical, mineral spirits are used here to dissolve away any adhesive residues that may have got stuck with black plastic trim during the installation process itself. These residues retain dirt after installation and keep sticking back even after cleaning so you need something strong enough to break through this bond. Ammonia on the other hand is responsible for bringing back the color of black plastic trim, while also adding some shine to it.

Hand-held rotary buffer

Another method is to use a hand-held rotary buffer, but it needs to be used with care. Note that you cannot apply the solution finisher on hot plastic because it will cause the product to dry quickly and damage the surface. Applying too many solutions can lead to additional problems in the future while underdoing it won’t give you the desired results.

Following these steps in order to restore black plastic trim can save you both time and money in the long run if your exterior pieces are beyond repair. The paint color of all vehicles may fade over time without affecting their performance, only making them look older than they really are; therefore, when restoring faded plastic pieces is what you need, following these easy tips should come in handy for you to know how to permanently restore black plastic trim.

Bottom Line

The exterior of a vehicle is constantly exposed to different environmental factors, and that wears out the trim and the paint job. It is never that difficult to slow down this process because, with proper care, all parts of a vehicle's trim look very much new after wear and tear for many years. Therefore, if you are thinking about how to permanently restore black plastic trim, the best way is to use the trim restorer that restores its original finish and offers protection against UV rays and other factors.


Is it expensive to buy the permanent black plastic trim restorers?

The majority of the trim restorers are pretty much affordable for the majority of car owners. However, it is worth noting that only a single bottle of trim remover is never enough if you would like to permanently restore the entire trim of the vehicle.

Is it possible to restore faded plastic?

It is mostly oxidation that results in fading, which is why plastic wears down and tends to develop a rough texture. Vehicle plastics typically fade because of being exposed to the sun because it traps dirt, but restoring this plastic with a heat gun and a rinse is possible.

Can Vaseline restore black plastic?

One can expertly use petroleum jelly or any ointment that uses a petroleum base in order to shine the soft plastic. You have to rub the jelly on the plastic, let it be for a minute or so, and then wipe it off.