How to Clean and Restore Black Plastic Trim on Cars. 1

How to Clean and Restore Black Plastic Trim on Cars.

The black plastic trim and bumpers on your car look great when it’s new.  But can quickly turn a nasty faded shade of grey. This can be caused by the sun but it tends to happen to all plastic over time.

The good news is there are a number of ways you can restore the natural deep black.  There are a few new products on the market that work really well and make this job much easier than it used to be a few years ago.

Restoring the faded plastic bumpers and plastic or rubber trim on any car to more natural color is an effective and cheap way to make it look much better and increase its value.

Quick Answer

You can remove Oxidation and UV damage on black plastic using this Solution Finish plastic restorer.  It’s the best plastic car trim restorer on the market today.  It will bring the plastic back to its original color.  It’s super easy to apply, all you need to do is wash and dry your car.  

Solution Finish - Black Plastic & Vinyl Trim Restorer - Use for Car and Truck Detailing, No Wet Look, Instantly Revives Color to Trim, Bumpers, Mud Flaps, Etc., Black (1 oz)
  • ☑️ SOLUTION FINISH BLACK TRIM RESTORER: This restorer solution is a crucial addition to any car detailing kit. Solution Finish restores black plastic and vinyl car trim back to better than its original state and provides a long-lasting protective finish.
  • ☑️ ULTIMATE PROTECTION FOR YOUR CAR’S EXTERIOR: Solution Finish Trim Restorer is a vinyl and plastic cleaner for your car’s trim and a plastic and vinyl protectant. Worn plastic trim is brought back to life that gives your car exterior trim a like new finish.
  • ☑️ RESTORE BLACK PLASTIC OR VINYL: In addition to restoring your car’s exterior, Solution Finish also restores, conditions, renews, and protects nearly any black plastic on your vehicle, including black bumpers, mirrors, window trim, handles, and more.
  • ☑️ LASTING PROTECTION: Solution Finish guarantees a long-lasting, deep black matte finish that makes your black plastic and vinyl look great and protects it to keep it looking like new. This restorer keeps your car exterior looking its best for months.
  • ☑️ BUY WITH CONFIDENCE: We assure your complete satisfaction, and we are confident that you will be pleased with Solution Finish trim restorer for your car. If you are unhappy with your purchase, contact us for a resolution.

Best Plastic Trim Restorer for Cars

Solution Finish is the king of plastic restorers.  It lasts longer than anything else on the market.  But it doesn’t last forever.  So you might need to top up after 6 months to a year. It’s normally only used by professional detailers but the secret is definitely out.  Anyone can use it and it’s super easy to apply to black plastic trim.

Car with Bumpers that have been cleaned and restored.

Cleaning plastic before applying the restorer

Some cars have very little plastic trim.  In fact, I once owned a Ford with absolutely no plastic trim.  Other than the high gloss trim between the windows and on the front grill. But glossy plastic is a little different from normal matt plastic.  In this article, I will talk about how to restore both types of plastic.

Matt plastic is sometimes referred to as porous plastic and glossy trim is called non-porous.   The weather and the methods you use to wash your car are the main factors causing the plastic to fade.  Also, some products can ruin plastic trim. Some waxes can cause a lot of damage to the plastic, but others are safe to use.  

For example, Maguire Ultimate Liquid Wax can be used on paint AND plastic trim.  In fact, it’s really good on plastic and adds shine, and gives some UV protection. But it doesn’t restore faded plastic as well as the products I will talk about below. Use a degreaser or an all-purpose cleaner to clean the plastic fist.  These are great for cleaning a million other things too.  Click here to read about them.

Another great Plastic Trim Restorer.

Car Guys Plastic Restorer is an outstanding product for use on faded or oxidized plastic and rubber trim.  And it’s super easy to apply and lasts for a few months.

This product does not contain any dye so it can be used on all types of plastic and rubber including grey and black plastic. To apply it’s best to first fully wash the car and then clean the plastic trim with a degreaser.

Car Guys Plastic Restorer will dry very quickly on the car and that’s one of its advantages over most other trim restorers.  It’s not oily or greasy and yet it still repels water even after a few months and after about five washes. It can be applied to old or new cars.  

For new cars, it offers UV protection and protection against the weather so it will protect your plastic from turning grey.  If you want to make the product last as long as possible you should wash your car with a ph neutral shampoo like Meguiars Gold Class.  Using dish soap will wash it away in just a few washes.

Permanent Fix for Faded Plastic Trim

There are some products out there that claim to permanently restore your plastic trim.  One popular product is Gtechniq C4 Permanent Trim Restorer. The tiny bottle seems to cost a lot of money but it should save you money and time in the long run as it lasts so long.

For best results, Gtechniq C4 Permanent Trim Restorer needs time to bond properly with your plastic.  But when applied correctly it can make your plastic trim look new. The result is a natural-looking appearance without any unattractive gloss shine which would just look wrong.

Gtechniq C4 Permanent Trim Restorer has an excellent reputation with some users saying that their car still looks good after one year and twenty washes.   The product needs 12 hours to dry and bond properly with your car.  Gloves are also needed to protect your skin. Make sure you read and follow the instructions in the box.  You can also see the instruction on their website.

Using a Heat Gun to Fix Faded Black Trim.

I don’t think using a heat gun is a good idea.  The heat melts the plastic slightly and seems to do a great job.  But I have read that it can cause the plastic to crack so I would say, skip this method.  

Remove Swirls From Glossy Black Plastic Trim

Many cars have high gloss plastic trim between the front and back doors.  Sometimes called the B-pillar. If this has become grey then the products mentioned above will help.  But often the issue with glossy trim is swirls and scratches. It isn’t easy to prevent this plastic from getting scratched and swirled.  Probably the best way is with PPF.

Even if you wash using the two-bucket method and use a quality microfibre wash mitt. This trim can be polished.  It’s actually very easy to polish because it’s so soft and you can quickly get stunning results.   Use a polishing machine with a foam pad and some compound like Meguiars Ultimate Compound to first polish out any scratches.  This only takes one or two passes. Of course, it’s best to tape off rubber trim before you start.

To bring out the shine you can use a clean foam pad without any product on it.  If that doesn’t give your the results you want you can try using some water or finishing polish like Meguiars Ultimate Polish.

Cleaning and Protecting Plastic or Rubber Floor Matts

Plastic and rubber floor mats can be cleaned using a degreaser like Super Clean Degreaser and once dry you can use Stoner Car Care Trim Shine for perfect results every time.  

These two inexpensive products work very well together and allow you to get quick results.  To save even more money you can dilute Super Clean Degreaser by adding 50% water.

Protecting plastic trim from UV damage.

If you’re happy with the appearance of your plastic and rubber trim you can protect it from UV damage use a gel-like Chemical Guys Tire and Trim Gel for Plastic and Rubber.  I apply a product like that about once a month directly after I wash my car.  It gives the appearance a fantastic boost. Read more about protecting your car from UV damage here


Plastic trim that has become oxidized due to the sun or has stains caused by waxing can be restored by using Solution Finish

Thanks for reading.

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