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How to fix faded black plastic trim in 15 minutes

As a vehicle starts to age, continued exposure to the sun can start to have a major impact on the various pieces of black exterior plastic trim. A typical vehicle may have black plastic trim on the front and rear bumpers, on the doors, around the side windows, and also around the front and rear glass.

If the black plastic trim on your car is no longer looking black, it’ll really start to bring down the whole look of the vehicle. Thankfully, bringing back the blackness to your black plastic trim isn’t really that difficult – as there are many permanent and non-permanent options available.

Today we’re looking at a 1994 Ford Fairlane sedan which we purchased for a few thousand dollars. While it might be in excellent condition for a 23-year-old vehicle, exposure to the harsh Australian sun over a great many years has meant that some of the black plastic trim, around the C-pillar windows in particular, are quite faded. So, how can we fix it?

Luckily, there are products on the market specifically for the job – and the one we’re looking at here is a dye/pigment based option, which you apply to the plastics directly using the built-in applicator pad. Here’s how it’s done:

Step 1: Clean the vehicle

First, we need to clean the areas of the vehicle which we’re going to be working on. We’re using a quick detailer cleaning product and then wiping the area down with a microfibre cloth. But if you’ve got a lot of faded plastic trim to repair, you may as well wash the whole car.

Step 2: Mask off surrounding areas

Next, we need to mask off any areas of the car which we don’t want to treat – this includes any nearby paintwork and the window glass. The product we’re using today is essentially black die, so it is important to keep it off any surfaces which aren’t black. We’re keeping things simple here and using packing tape, but you can also pick up specialised painters tape from your local hardware store.

Step 3: Degrease the plastic trim

The kit we purchased works using a two-stage process – the first of which is a degreasing spray to clean the plastic trim and remove and contaminants. Take the time to clean the trim properly as this will help you obtain a smoother, more even finish.

Step 4: Applying the black dressing

Next up is the fun part – applying the black dressing. Now there are many products on the market which promise to restore faded trim, and this one in particular is essentially black dye which is applied to the vehicle’s trim directly using a built-in applicator pad. So, here we go!

Now, if the trim piece you’re working on is badly faded, you’ll need to apply multiple coats of the product in order to achieve a nice even finish without streaks. For the first coat, don’t be afraid to apply the product quite liberally, because if the applicator pad is too dry you’ll end up with a lot of streaks in the finish. Wait for the product to dry before continuing.

Step 5: Apply additional coats as required

Continue applying coats of the product until you end up with a beautiful black finish with no streaks. As you can see, we’re laying the product on quite thickly as we found this achieved the best results.

Step 6: Remove the masking and admire!

All you need to do now is remove the masking and admire your newly restored newly restored trim. It really is that easy, and when compared side by side with the existing trim the difference is remarkable.

I guess the saying is true – once you go black, you’ll never go back.

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Conner Peden July 6, 2018 at 12:39 pm

What’s it called be nice to know

Sean McKellar August 22, 2018 at 2:08 pm

Hello – I didn’t mention it within the article as I didn’t want to push any particular product over another. But the one I used was called T-Cut Bumper & Trim Treatment.

Bobbi Jo Hahn February 4, 2018 at 1:05 pm

I would love to try this product for my daughters 1997 Jeep Wrangler. The problem is, it doesn’t seem to be for sale in the US. I found it on Amazon UK, but it won’t let me order it. Everything that I have found available in the US doesn’t seem to have the same amount of positive feedback. Have you used any other products that are available in the US that you would recommend?

Sean McKellar February 5, 2018 at 12:27 pm

Have a look on eBay. We’re based in Australia and ended up ordering it from a UK seller through eBay AU. All the different eBay regions are sort of linked together so you should be able to do the same thing from the US.


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