How To Restore and Shine Car Plastic and Rubber Exterior Trim

Aug 17 2017

Why do car exterior plastics fade?

Plastic and rubber trim on car exteriors are prone to fading and even cracking, and let’s face it, it looks pretty awful when that happens! So why does car trim fade? There are several reasons, and here are a few:

  • Damaging UV rays from sunlight
  • Regularly washing the car with strong detergents (washing-up liquid is terrible for car paintwork and exterior trim)
  • Not washing the car regularly enough
  • And the main reason: not applying rubber and plastic trim protection products
Vinyl treatment

Vinyl plastic roof before treatment (L) and after treatment (R)

What NOT to use on exterior trim

I’ve heard of people using all sorts to try to put the black back into their car’s trim parts: cooking oil, used engine oil, the other half’s expensive body oil (best not let them find out!) and more.

While these types of products may look like they’ve temporarily brought back a depth to the trim, there are drawbacks: they are messy to use and other people won’t thank you when they brush past in their best clothes, they make the car smell, will attract insects, and there’s also zero UV-filtration qualities in them, meaning it’s just a temporary solution.

rubber seal treatment

Cheaper trim products are often packed with silicone, which will leave an unnatural bright shine to the bumpers etc, and they also have a tendency to leave a horrible, sticky finish behind, which not only comes off when you brush against it, but will also wash off easily and streak when it next rains. Not a good look, and you’re definitely best using good quality products.

 plastic trim protection

How to clean, restore, and protect exterior car trim

  1. Clean off any bug splats and bird dirt using Chipex Triple Action Bugs Away spray
  2. Wash your car and all the trim with a good quality car shampoo such as Chipex Super Concentrate Car Shampoo
  3. Badly faded trim needs a specific plastic and rubber trim restorer rather than a standard trim shine product. Do not buy a cheap product, but instead invest in a good product as it will far outlast an inexpensive one.
  4. If your trim looks okay but needs protecting and a shine adding: again, buy a good quality trim shine product. Budget sprays and nasty silicone products don’t last, will streak when it rains, and leave a cheap-looking finish.
  5. Look for products that state they have UV protection (stops it fading in the sun), offer good longevity, and a non-greasy finish
  6. Continue to wash your car with good quality shampoo, and regularly use trim shine to maintain the look as well as protect the rubber and plastics

Maintain your car paintwork with these products

Chipex offer a good range of superior car care and car cleaning products to keep your vehicle protected and looking its best. Products on offer include:

While you’re cleaning your car anyway, check out our useful article How and Why To Keep Your Car Windscreen Clean.