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  • Writer's pictureDave

Restoring & Protecting Exterior Vehicle Trim

We have all seen those vehicles where the black trim has faded to grey. No matter how many hours you spend working on your paint to make it dazzle if the trim looks bad so does the overall exterior. UV rays, rain, snow, salt and other environmental contaminants can cause exterior trim on your vehicle to quickly become dull, faded, and even cracked if not properly cared for. Thankfully there are products that will prevent this from occurring and/or restore already faded trim

Wash your Trim

Its a good practice to wash your trim and moldings when you wash your car. On textured pieces, use a dedicated trim brush, or something with stiffer bristles. Using a brush will allow you to pull contaminants out of the pores of the material. These contaminants may be contributing to the discoloration of the rubber or plastic. Mothers Detailing Brushes do the job quite nicely. Avoid using stiff bristle brushes on smooth black plastic; it will scratch.

Mothers Detailing Brushes
Mothers Detailing Brushes

If you already have a dressing on the trim and molding, clean it off periodically. Layering dressings will eventually result in discoloration because the outermost layers are not curing to the rubber; they are just sitting on top of old layers.

Once your vehicle is clean and dried, you need to protect the trim pieces with a quality rubber, vinyl, and plastic protectant. This will help prevent future UV degradation, which is the primary cause of fading

There are a number of options available, with varying degrees of durability. Most quality trim restorers will also contain UV protectants.

UV Protection Only

If you dont need to restore your trim and are looking for just a great UV protector 303 Aerospace Protection is a great solution. 303 Aerospace Protectant has a SPF of 40, the most UV protection offered by any surface protectant. It will prevent drying, cracking, and fading caused by overexposure to the sun. It was originally formulated for aerospace and aviation applications, machines that come much closer to the sun than your vehicle. 303 Aerospace Protectant is the single most effective non-ceramic protectant on the market. It is also extremely versatile and is great for use on dashboards and other interior vinyl, rubber & plastic components.

Polymer Based Restoration & Protection

With Ultimate Black you get great "bang for your buck". Although this product will last about a month or so before needing to be reapplied, it is quite inexpensive so each application costs only a few dollars. Its state-of-the-art hybrid polymer technology seals nonporous surfaces under a clear coat-like coating. This coating offers exceptional UV protection to prevent further damage. The polymers restore the dark color to your trim.

Sonax Plastic Restorer Gel is a thick, drip-free cream that revitalizes faded, discolored exterior plastic trim. Plastic Restorer Gel is formulated using microscopic nano particles that penetrate deeply into the plastic trim, providing long-lasting protection and long-term preservation. SONAX Plastic Restorer Gel is not limited to black trim – use it on any color trim and watch as it brings the surface back to like-new condition.

Ceramic Based Restoration & Protection

Using a ceramic based product on paint is very common, but ceramic is also a great protectant for trim as well. You get much longer protection than you will from a polymer based product (up to 2 years depending on the brand).

Over and above just the durability aspect, you will get the same hydrophobic & ease of cleaning that you get from a paint ceramic. This can be a huge bonus if you get a lot of bug splatter on your front grille or mirror trim. Ceramic coating these surfaces will enable you to get that bug debris off easier.

There are visual benefits even when restoration is not required. The coating tends to make even brand new trim look more more vibrant.

When applying a ceramic trim coating, just like when you do a paint coating, preparation is critical. Deep clean the surface and use a coating prep product before applying to enable the ceramic to properly bond to the surface.

Check out all our trim products HERE