So you want to make your car’s UV rays-battered plastic trim look new again. Great, because there’s a fine selection of trim restorer products that will do just the trick. These products are meant to restore exterior plastic trim to a dark, deep black color you see when the car rolls off the production line. Over time, the sun’s harmful UV rays, dirt, car washes and the elements in general cause plastic parts to fade to a rather unattractive light (and sometimes chalky) gray.
But it doesn’t have to shake out that way. Read on below for Roadshow’s top picks.
Cerakote makes big promises. Number one, this is not a dressing for exterior trim. Instead, it’s a coating to restore faded plastic trim on the exterior of a vehicle. Number two, Cerakote calls this a ceramic coating to combat faded car plastic and provide UV protection. Big, fancy buzzwords, for sure.
However, these little car trim restorer wipes pack a big punch. Like it says, this isn’t a dressing, but a protective coating that restores the plastic trim. I found the plastic restorer works well on grainy exterior plastic parts, but isn’t the best for smoother plastic trim. That might be better with an actual dressing. But, overall, the results of this protective coat are amazing when you follow the directions exactly and give it time to cure.
I like both the dressing and this spray version of Meguiar’s Ultimate Black Plastic Restorer, but I chose this version because it works perfect for faded trim areas like a vehicle’s grille. Grilles often feature tricky trim piece patterns that it would be impossible, or at least tedious, to apply a dressing to. Using a plastic trim restorer spray product provides better results.
The only downside with Ultimate Black is its staying power. It’s definitely not permanent and you’ll need to reapply it on black trim after some time. However, at $12, Meguiar’s Ultimate Black is an exterior trim restorer that’s worth its price.
I dig Carfidant’s Trim & Plastic Restorer. Foremost, it’s nice the folks at the company include an applicator. It’s just one less thing to worry about if you’re not a hardcore detailer and don’t have tons of them lying around. But the trim restorer product itself works well and it’s super easy to apply to parts of the car some of the other picks on this list don’t do well with.
Specifically, plastic trim rubber around windows is perfect for Carfidant’s product and it’s an area the sun’s UV rays like to damage. Right now, it’s $8 off, so grab it while you can.
This trim restorer stuff is flat-out expensive, but I enjoyed the results. A little does not go a long way and it took more than I’d like to use from the bottle. However, the results on black plastic and black trim are spectacular.
The deep, dark black look Lithium Trim Restorer & Protectant provides is unlike anything else on this list. It’s also versatile and will work on many areas you want to use it. Side mirrors, door handles, rubber, vinyl, black plastic trim on bumpers — it works everywhere. Again, it’s pricey, but you get what you pay for here.
I mentioned Chemical Guys Vinyl, Rubber and Plastic Dressing, or VRP for short, when I talked about the best tire shines, however, as the name implies, this stuff is versatile. While I personally wouldn’t apply it on a car’s interior, it works wonderfully well on exterior plastic trim.
The best part is, I didn’t notice any slinging after a rain shower. That’s a big stress factor when it comes to these kinds of products, but VRP holds up in my experience.
Best car plastic restorer details
|Best car plastic trim restorer||Brand||Name||Price|
|Overall||Cerakote||Ceramic Trim Coat||$20|
|For the money||Chemical Guys||VRP||$9|
|Spray plastic restorer||Meguiar’s||Ultimate Black||$12|
|Premium plastic restorer||Carfidant||Trim & Plastic Restorer||$17|
|Without a budget||Lithium||Trim Restorer & Protectant||$37|
Car plastic restorer tips
- Make sure you wash and dry the area: Ideally, you’d do a exterior plastic trim restore session after a car wash anyway, but make sure the plastic surface area you plan to apply your choice of trim restorer product to is thoroughly cleaned and dried before using any of these products.
- Go slow, be thorough: Don’t do a quick pass with the trim restorer product and think you’re fine. Some of these areas may take more time and might require time to cure, too, before you buff them out with a microfiber cloth.
- Stay out of the sun: The sun’s UV rays is exactly what causes car plastic trim to fade. Don’t apply the trim restorer products in the sun.
- Reapply as needed: Some of these solution finish products will last much longer than others. None of these are a permanent fix. Once you see you need more, go ahead and apply more.
Enjoy your Roadshow-approved, restored trim
It’s the little things that matter when it comes to making a car look clean and well maintained. Car plastic exterior trim is one area that’s easy to overlook, but with one of these, you will have a great looking car guaranteed.