How To Restore Faded Car Interior Plastic

VD February 02 2022

After a few years, shiny plastic in the car interior is no longer black or vividly colored. Daily use and exposure to sunlight will cause the plastic to fade. Here we explain how to get the original rich colors back.

First step: Clean plastic surfaces in general

Before you refresh the plastic, you clean the surfaces first. An interior all-purpose cleaner is sufficient for this. To do the first cleaning step, spray the cleaning product onto a microfiber cloth and then rub the cleaning product into all plastic surfaces inside the car. You avoid splashing adjacent parts by spreading on the fabric and not directly on the surfaces.

Freshen up the plastic in the car interior

After cleaning all plastic surfaces, you have created a reasonable basis for using a plastic care product. Such plastic care products are not there for cleaning but only give the plastic new color and protection.

In principle, you now proceed with the plastic care in the same way as with the all-purpose cleaner.

You spray a bit on a cloth and then rub it all over the surfaces to be treated. Here it is even more critical that you do not spray carelessly directly onto the surfaces, as the agent smears and, as mentioned, has a coloring effect. And, of course, you don't want any splashes on unwanted areas.

After you have worked on all the plastic surfaces, polish off any greasy residue with a microfiber cloth.

Refreshing car plastic with a heat gun: Is it a good idea?

Giving the plastic a fresh look with a hot air gun is a method that is not used too infrequently. The hot air gun melts the plastic surface slightly, giving it a fresh black color even after drying.

So this is a possibility, but it must be done with caution. Because, first of all, a heat gun is not a toy and can cause severe burns. If you are not careful, the plastic can melt too much, which will damage the surface.

Here’s how to do this. Using a heat gun at about half power, gently apply heat to the plastic until it softens. Do not heat for too long as the plastic can warp and burn, causing irreparable damage. You can tell when the plastic is ready for molding as it loses its texture and appears slightly shiny.

Repairing scratches on the plastic

After using a heat gun or a polish, apply a grit pad with very light pressure to the affected area. This will smooth out scratches and give the plastic a textured finish, blending in. 

Korn pads are available online and usually come in a variety of styles. Choose the one that most closely resembles the plastic trim in your car and apply it to the area with the hard plastic application pad provided.

Once done, allow the area to cool and harden. The texture should now look similar to the unaffected area. However, you will need to sand them down to ensure a smooth and authentic-looking finish. Use a super fine grain paper to smooth it out if necessary.

Conclusion

If your car's plastic interior trim is looking a bit worn or the heat gun has discolored it in any way, use a plastic restoration pad or spray to restore the color and shine and keep it looking fresh and new.