Revive Your Car's Black Trim: Pro Tips for Restoring the Brilliant Shine

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Updated on:

June 6, 2023

Restoring Auto Trim Like a Pro: Insider Secrets to Bring Back the Black Brilliance

Nothing destroys a look of a nicely detailed car more than faded plastic trim pieces. Faded black trim affects the overall visual of a car drastically, making it look older and less pristine than it is. No matter how good you wash the exterior of your vehicle, the grey tone of your exterior plastic will keep you car from looking brand new and clean.

In this article, we will explore ways to permanently restore black plastic trim and how you can keep your exterior trim from fading.

Main Key Takeaways:

  • Heat gun method: Costly but effective. Draws out embedded oil to restore appearance. Not a permanent solution. Can be harmful to painted/glass surfaces.
  • Repaint: Simple and permanent. Choose good trim paint. Clean, apply primer (if needed), and carefully apply paint. Seal with clear coat for glossy finish.
  • Car trim restorer: Easy and quick. Nourishes faded plastic, prevents oxidation, provides UV protection. Apply with applicator, wipe off residue. Solution Finish Trim Restorer recommended.

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sun, cloud, sky

Why do black plastic trim pieces fade?

Black plastic trim generally doesn't have any protective coating on top of it. This makes plastic trim very frail to environmental factors.

UV rays are one of the most deteriorating factors to cause black plastic trim to fade. In sunny states like Florida, it is especially common to have faded car trim due to the direct sunlight. Harmful uv rays dehydrate the plastic trim and degrade it, leading to a chalky finish on it.

Other factors of plastic fading

UV rays is not the only environmental factor that affects the longevity of your black trim. Other road contaminants, like small stones and sticks, affect the look of your car's trim.

In addition, when driving after a heavy rain, the puddles of water mixed with dirt and grime of the road, deteriorate the trim pieces s well.

3 main methods to know about how to restore black plastic trim

There are a bunch of different ways you can restore black trim. Everything is based on your preference and on how much time you are willing to invest into reviving your black plastic trim. There is a solution for any budget, so money is not a problem!

glue, hot, gun

1. Heat gun method

Heat gun is one of the more costly and complicated ways to fix your trims, but the effects after you have used it on your vehicle are amazing.

How this gun works is that it draws out the oil that is embedded in the faded trim and brings it to the surface to restore the appearance of a brand new trim.


Heat gun

The only thing you will need for this process is a heat gun. It is not recommended to use a high powered gun since it is possible that it will damage the plastic trim by melting it. A heat gun is widely available in auto parts stores, Home Depot, as well as on Amazon.

This SEEKONE Heat Gun is a great choice to restore black plastic trim. You can adjust the temperature of this gun in order to accommodate to the plastic. It also includes four nozzles that you can use to get the desired flow of the heat on smaller parts of the car that you are working on.

Another good option is the CRAFTSMAN Heat Gun. It has a long cord that is very useful while working all over the car as well as adjustable temperature.

How to restore faded plastic with heat gun

Step 1: Find a sunny place

To start off the process, park your vehicle in a sunny place. Allowing the plastic trim to heat up with UV light will speed up the process when working with a gun.

Make sure to use a clean towel with some cleaning solution to clean the trim before fixing it.

Step 2: Heat up the gun

Put the gun's setting to medium low. If the heat gun's flow is too hot, it will melt the plastic. Make sure you test out a small part of your rubber trim with the gun to see of the temperature you chose is not too hot.

Step 3: Apply the heat to faded plastic

After you have heated up the gun, proceed by applying it on the vinyl trim piece. Work on one small area at a time, gently heating up each part of the plastic. By working on small pieces at a time, you are making sure that the restoration is even. You will see the result right away, since the oil will rise up to the surface and restore the rich black color after a couple of minutes.

Heat gun takeaways

Even though this method is very attractive due to the minimal supply usage, there are some takeaways.

This method does not guarantee to permanently restore black plastic trim. The oils will eventually start to dry out again, turning your black trim back into faded grey. You can repeat the same process to fix the trim again, but there is only so much oil that can be restored back to the surface of the plastic.

Another takeaway, is that heat can be harmful to painted or glass surfaces. You can't always be very precise with a steam gun, so you might damage some of the paint on your vehicle. But if you are careful enough, your vehicle will come out looking brand new.

graffiti, deo, spray can

2. Repaint

One of the easiest ways to permanently restore black plastic trim is to simply paint it. If you get a good paint, it won't fade away in a very long time and give you a permanent solution to your problem.

There are a lot of different options to use for repainting plastic trim. Every paint has different finish, like glossy finish or matte finish. It all depends on your preference. There are also different colors you can use for the trim pieces.

Some people like to use a completely black paint, but professionals tend to lean towards a subtle gray color since it matches wheels better than an opaque black. It might take a while for you to pick the right paint, but it is better to take your time with this choice since a wrong color can disturb the overall look of your exterior.


Spray trim paint - most important thing you will need is your paint. Spray paint that is specifically made to use on trims is one of the easiest options.

The Seymour 20-1679 PBE Professional Trim Spray Paint is a great choice for a paint job. It has a semi-gloss finish and resists harmful uv rays from fading it.

Primer spray - a primer is not always necessary when painting your trims. It depends on the type of paint you are using as well as the plastic surface you are working on.

Clear coat spray - you will only need this item if you want to get a glossy look.

Microfiber cloth - you will need a microfiber towel for the cleaning process you need to do prior to the paint job.

How to restore faded plastic by repainting

Step 1: Cover non-trim areas with tape

In order to keep your car from getting stained with black paint, use some masking tape to protect it. This extra step will make this process a lot easier and less messy.

During this step, you should also change into clothes you do not care about since this type of paint will stain clothing. You should also wear gloves to prevent your hands staining black.

Step 2: Clean the trim

Before starting the painting process, you need to make sure that the surface you are painting is completely clean. For this step, you can use the Fortador Gold Degreaser with a clean microfiber towels to wash away all the grime.

Step 3: Paint

Once the trim is clean and dry, you can proceed to painting. Depending on the plastic trim and the paint you are using, apply a primer spay. If the primer is not required, you can skip this step.

Grab your paint and read the instructions. Every paint requires a different applicator pad, microfiber applicator, or foam applicator. Carefully apply the paint on your car trim making sure to stay away from any parts of the car that you do not want to paint black.

Different paint brands will require you to apply a couple of layers of the paint. If this is the case, make sure to apply a thin coat of paint of every layer in order to not cause bubbling or lifting.

Learn moore about clay bar treatment for car paint to remove contaminants from surface.
Step 4: Seal the deal

If you want your paint to last and stay black, you should use a clear coat spray or some sort of sealant.

Follow the directions of your protective clear coat and apply it all over your painted trim.

gas station, vintage, classic cars

3. Car trim restorer

Using a trim restorer is the easiest and least time consuming way to restore black plastic trim. Good trim restorers will nourish the faded black plastic and keep it from going grey again. Plastic restorer will prevent oxidation that causes the grey look on your trims. Some even provide uv protection that is crucial if you live in a sunny city.

solution finish black trim restorer


Solution finish trim restorer - for a permanent fix, grab a good trim restorer. Investing in such a useful trim product will help you tremendously in the future. You can find trim restorers in auto parts places as well as online.

One the best products to use is the Chemical Guys Tire and Trim Gel. Chemical guys is overall a great brand that has all the supplies you need for car wash and other tasks. Their trim gel will enrich your plastic trim with necessary oils as well as act as a uv protectant.

Applicator - for any type of trim restorer you will be using, you will need an applicator. The most common one required is the foam applicator.

Microfiber towel - you will need a washed microfiber towel to wipe off any residue you might have left from the plastic restorer.

Isopropyl alcohol - alcohol will be useful for cleaning trim parts before applying the trim restorer.

How to restore faded plastic with car trim restorer

Step 1: Finding a good space

Before starting the process, you should park your vehicle in an somewhere with adequate ventilation and away from the sun. You should be working on a cool surface in the shade for best results.

Step 2: Clean up

After you have found the right space, proceed by cleaning your black plastic trim a cleaner and a clean towel. Use isopropyl alcohol to wipe over the surface to get rid of any debris, like wax residue.

This step will ensure that the application of the plastic restorer is smooth and without any imperfections caused by grime.

Step 3: Apply Solution finish trim restorer

Using your foam applicator, carefully apply your plastic restorer all over the affected trim. Make sure that during your application, you are careful not to touch any other part of your vehicle. Getting the trim restorer on paint may cause staining that is irreversible.

Apply your solution finish as evenly as you can to prevent from any inconsistent and unprofessional coloring on your wheels.

kevlar protection ceramic coating for cars

How to keep your black trims from fading

Taking care of your black trims can feel like a tedious thing. As mentioned before, plastic trim pieces generally get damaged by uv rays. This is why you need to make sure you have some kind of uv protection on the trim.

By using a trim restorer that provides uv protective layer, you will not only take your trim from from looking grey, but also help it from getting damaged by the UV. Every car owner should own a bottle of solution finish trim restorer to keep your car looking brand new.

afyer restoration of black plasic

What is the most recommended way to permanently restore black plastic trim?

Out of all the methods that were listed in this article, using a solution finish trim restorer is the best one. A bottle of this solution will last you a long time. It stays on your black trim for a while is properly taken care off. If you thought that you trim is permanently grey, a trim restorer will surely fix that assumption.

Unlike paintwork, trim restorers will be a long lasting solution with necessary protection that will drastically improve the look of your vehicle.

To make your car's paintwork pop, you need to keep the plastic trim black. All trim colors fade overtime, put if you gather the necessary supplies and are willing to put enough time into your car, the results will be priceless.

In this article we have gone over a bunch of methods you can use to permanently restore black plastic trim. It is not necessary to go to a fancy car wash or detailing place to fix your faded plastic. Everything you need can be bought online, and the restoration of black plastic trim can be done with your own hands!

About the Authors

Kristina Tretyakova
Distinguished as a South Florida Top-10 student in 2021. Studying Marketing and Business Administration at FIU. Proficient in daily operations and skilled in cleaning, auto detailing and copywriting.
Sergey "Serg" Paskevich
Panama-based detailing pro, proud owner of Car Care Performance Detailing studio in Panama-City. Specializing in Paint Correction, Ceramic Coating, and comprehensive Car Detailing services

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