How to Bring Faded Plastic Automotive Trim Back to Life

In the mid to late 70’s through the early 2000’s auto manufacturers were using black textured plastic for just about everything. Side trim, bumper covers, window trim, interior accents, etc. When the car or truck is new this textured plastic gave a neat contrast to the painted metal and colored plastic adjacent to it and was sort of the “style” in during that time. What manufacturers didn’t think about was the durability of the black coloring in the trim and over time UV light tends to dull the trim and will give them a gray, chalky appearance. Now that these vehicles are becoming “classics” more and more people are looking for ways to save and restore these plastic parts. We feel that we’ve found a great solution to bring the original deep, black appearance back to these pieces. Read our process using Eastwood Plastic Resurfacer below.

One thing we’ve found that dulls old plastic trim is the contaminants embedded in the trim. Years of road salt, dirt, wax, pollen, and other things will dull the trim and can block out any attempts to restore plastic parts. We like to start by using a plastic brush and a rag with PRE cleaner to clean off any of those contaminants. This will clean the surface and leave the pores of the plastic clean and ready to be dyed or resurfaced. Make sure you dry the entire surface with a lint-free rag and allow the PRE to fully flash off or evaporate.

Now that all of your parts are clean you can grab your can of Eastwood Plastic Resurfacer. This isn’t a spray paint and is a specially formulated coating that penetrates into the pores, reflows the plastic, and deposits black resins into the plastic to give you a semi-permanent solution. Many other options out there will just sit on the surface or will burn off contaminates on the surface giving the appearance of fresh, black trim but that is only topical and won’t last. We suggest taping off any areas around the trim that you don’t want the coating on. For best results fully remove the trim, bumper, etc. and apply off the vehicle. After shaking the can you can apply 2-4 light coats until the part is fully coated. Leave 15 minutes between coats so the product each coat fully flow into the plastic.

If possible leave the parts out in the sun to dry as the heat will help the product flow into the plastic and also to dry. For best results leave the parts sit overnight before handling. If on the car you can remove your masking tape 15-20 minutes after application and wait to wipe them down until the following day. Our extensive testing has shown that Plastic Resurfacer will keep parts looking their original Matte Black finish for 7 years or more of UV exposure. If you’d like to touch up parts you can wash them with soapy water and reapply the resurfacer; there is no need to attempt removing the resurfacer as it actually flows into the plastic and is part of the plastic makeup once cured.

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