How to Protect & Dress Faded Plastic Trim

As a professional detailer, you can make a good living by providing your customers with a simple car wash and wax, but you may be leaving money on the table by not offering additional services. One of the easiest and most profitable services you can offer a detailing customer is plastic trim restoration. Restoring automotive plastic can be done in a matter of minutes, result in increased profit margins, and make a huge impact on the appearance of the vehicle, as well as your customer’s satisfaction!

Plastic trim pieces and moldings are typically one of the first things on a vehicle’s exterior to show wear. Constant exposure to harsh sunlight and weather can leave plastic trim pieces looking faded and worn but with the right products, restoring automotive plastic is easy work for a professional detailer. In this article, we explain how to restore plastic trim on cars and how to leverage this service to increase revenue for your business!

Steps to Plastic Trim Restoration

One thing to keep in mind is that many of your customers may not be aware you offer a service to fix faded plastic trim, so it is always important to bring this up whenever you have your first face-to-face evaluation with them. As you go around and inspect the vehicle, make sure you check these areas:

  • Door handles
  • Front and back bumpers
  • Door moldings
  • Mirrors
  • Roof racks
  • Running boards
  • Bed liners
  • Mud flaps
  • Windshield Cowls

If you notice that the plastic trim in those areas may be worn or faded, mention it to your customer and let them know that for a few dollars more, you can have them looking brand new again. If they need some more convincing, mention to them that this can help increase the resale value of their vehicle or minimize fees on a leased vehicle when it comes time to turn it in. By letting the customer know you offer this service and leveraging the practical benefits, it can often lead to a very simple and profitable upsell.

Now that you have your customer on board and have located the pieces that need to be addressed, here are the steps to restoring faded plastic trim.

*For proper usage techniques and more benefits of this product, watch the video below!

  1. Wipe down the plastic areas with an alcohol-based cleaning solution. We recommend Detail King’s Wipe Clean for this step. This will help remove any dirt or leftover dressing/conditioner from the area and allow the dye to absorb into the plastic.
  2. If you can tell that dressing or conditioner was recently applied, we recommend scrubbing with a degreaser and water prior to doing this wipe-down step.
  3. Mask off the area around the faded plastic using Safe Release Painter’s Tape. This will prevent the dye from getting on the vehicle’s paint.
  4. Put on a pair of Disposable Detailing Gloves in preparation for handling the dye.
  5. Apply a small amount of either Black Trim Kote or Gray Trim Kote (depending on the color of the panel you are restoring) to a Disposable Shop Towel. Rub the Trim Kote dye into the plastic until it is spread evenly across the surface, applying more dye to the towel as needed. We recommend working in smaller sections at a time – 4”x4” is good, but no larger than 6”x6”.
  6. Once you have completed the section and the dye has dried, apply a small amount of Revival Trim Dressing to a Dressing Applicator and work the product evenly over the plastic surface. This dressing will help protect the plastic trim from fading again and give the restored surface a nice shine.

Car Plastic Trim Products & Supplies

Now that we know how to restore and protect plastic trim on cars, let’s take a closer look at some of the products we mentioned that will help you offer this service to your customers.

Detail King Trim Kote Car Trim Restorer – A long-lasting and efficient dye that is safe to use on any unpainted, textured, plastic or vinyl trim piece. A little of this product goes a long way, which makes it a great investment for your detailing business.

Detail King Revival Bumper and Trim Dressing – A durable conditioning cream that revamps and glosses exterior vinyl, plastic, and rubber components of your vehicle. This product is very easy to apply, leaves a long-lasting shine, and will protect the plastic trim from chemicals and UV rays.

Detail King Wipe Clean Surface Prep Solution – A mild solvent that will dissolve dressings, compounds, polishes, and waxes from the surface of a vehicle. This product is the perfect first step to restoring automotive plastic, as it will allow the Trim Kote Car Trim Restorer to better absorb into and bond with the trim piece.

Plastic Trim Restoration FAQs

How much should detailers charge for plastic trim restoration?

For retail customers, you should be able to charge about $5 per door handle, $10 per mirror, $20 to $30 per bumper cover, $15 to $20 per fender flair, $5-$10 per mud flap, $20-$30 for windshield cowls, etc. If you’ve nailed down multiple components on a customer’s vehicle, you might want to offer a package price, knocking off 10 to 15 percent. For dealerships or fleet customers, you will want to knock off 10-15% based on the volume of vehicles they provide you!

What is a plastic trim restorer product like our Trim Kote?

Trim Kote is a dye and a semi-permanent solution designed to restore exterior car plastic and vinyl surfaces back to their original color.

What kinds of exterior car trim parts will Trim Kote restore?

Bumpers, mirrors, fender flares, bed liners, splash guards, door handles, cowl vents, roof rails, plastic windshield wiper arms, and any unpainted, textured plastic trim pieces!

Does Trim Kote contain silicones?

Trim Kote is 100% silicone free!

How long does it last once applied?

Trim Kote is a semi-permanent dye that will bring exterior plastic trim back to a like-new appearance. Usually, one coat of Trim Kote will leave your plastics and vinyl looking great for years. (9-12 months minimum without regularly applied protection)

Do I need any special equipment to apply it?

There are a few ways to apply Trim Kote, but the easiest way is to use nitrile gloves and a 3” x 3” shop towel/rag or mini roll-on sponge applicator.

Can I apply Trim Kote over any color of plastic or vinyl?

For best results apply Trim Kote to either black or gray plastic or vinyl surfaces.

Will Trim Kote stain the paint or glass?

Trim Kote only adheres to porous materials so it can be easily wiped off painted surfaces or glass. Try to remove it before the product dries but if you miss a spot and it does dry, simply use a shop towel and our Wipe Clean to remove it.

How long does it take Trim Kote to dry?

In warm weather, it should dry in 5 to 10 minutes. Cooler temperatures may take up to 20 minutes. Do not use Trim Kote in extremely hot weather because it will dry too fast and could cause you to rush the application process. Try to apply indoors or find shade and work in even smaller sections.

Will Trim Kote shine when it’s dry?

Trim Kote will have a matte finish when dry. You can apply just about any of Detail King’s dressings on top of Trim Kote after it has dried, but our Revival dressing is the recommended product.

Can Trim Kote be applied to car interior components?

Trim Kote is great for applying to exterior car trim and is not designed for use on car interior components.