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Plastic is great for car trims – strong, lightweight, and moldable – but this highly versatile construction material isn’t without its problems. Over time, exposure to sun, wind, rain, and dirt can trigger deterioration, resulting in a faded, graying appearance.
On its own, this isn’t a huge problem, but damaged trims can harm your car’s appearance, and in turn lower its resale value. For this reason, including trim maintenance as part of your cleaning routine is a great idea and luckily, there are plenty of products on the market to help you keep your plastic trim in tip top condition. Today we’re talking about these car trim restorers, and have compiled a list of the top 10 options on the market right now. With so many options to choose from, we’ve also included a handy guide to help you select the best product for your car, and answered some common questions regarding trim maintenance.
The Best Plastic Restorer
The number one spot on our list goes to TriNova, for their Ultimate Plastic Restorer. The product works by darkening plastic surfaces, and leaving behind an attractive shine, so your car looks as though it’s fresh out of the show room. The easy to apply gel formula also provides a protective layer to prevent further damage in the future. The surface protects against wind, rain, UV rays, and even flying debris.
The formula is streak-free, too – it’s more than just a black dye, so won’t leave messy residues that slip away when the vehicle is washed. This trim restorer also comes with its own specially designed applicator pad, making it simple and convenient to apply – simply wipe the gel across the surface of your trim and leave to dry. Users say that the gel works instantly, so there’s no waiting around either.
Darkens black plastic surfaces
Leaves behind an attractive shine
Easy to apply gel formula
Resists UV rays, wind, rain, and debris with a protective coating
Specially designed applicator pad included
- Weight8.8 ounces
Meguiars ultimate black trim restorer is another great option for keeping your car’s trim in perfect condition, by giving exterior plastic a new lease of life. The formula is able to achieve a glossy finish that will last for weeks at a time, even with exposure to rain. You won’t need to worry about sun damage either, as the protective coat left behind stands up against UV radiation, which slows the plastic’s aging process.
The fast-drying, non-greasy formula is also easy to apply, and won’t streak when it gets wet. This versatile product is suitable for use with plastic, vinyl, and rubber, and can be applied to everything from bumpers and moldings to door handles and mirror housing.
Darkens exterior plastic
Leaves a glossy, like-new finish
Lasts for weeks between applications
Leaves behind a protective coating that protects against the sun’s UV rays
Resistant to rain and dirt
Easy to apply and fast to dry
Ideal for plastic, vinyl, and rubber
- Weight13.6 ounces
The next car plastic restorer to earn a spot on our list is CarGuys’ premium solution. The versatile formula can be used on vinyl, rubber, and plastic, resulting in a dark shiny finish that lasts. And when they say “it lasts”, they mean it – unlike some other formulas on the market, CarGuys’ patented blend contains a unique additive designed to boost the coating’s longevity.
The attractive, shiny finish can withstand everything from wind and rain to UV rays and dirt – for several months at a time. The formula also has the advantage of being safe for the environment, so no need to worry if you accidentally spill some. Inspired by recent advancements in nanotechnology, this unique, long-lasting, and non-oily formula is sure to have your car looking showroom ready in no time.
Suitable for use on external rubber, vinyl, and plastic
Leaves behind a protective coating that resists water, UV radiation and dirt
Patented formula contains a unique additive to boost the protective coating’s longevity
Lasts for months between applications
Safe for the environment
- Weight9.6 ounces
The first complete bumper and trim maintenance kit to make our list is Forever Car’s “Forever Black” plastic, rubber, and vinyl restorer. The product includes specially formulated soap, the plastic trim restorer itself, and an application sponge.
As its name suggests, the Forever Black formula gets to work straight away to restore a dark, glossy finish to all plastic, rubber and vinyl. Made with the same polymers used in the production of these materials, it easily blends in with the existing plastic for a smooth, streak-free finish. As well as this, the formula is environmentally safe, and dries in just a few minutes after application. Once dry, Forever Black forms a protective layer that keeps your surfaces safe against water and UV rays, as well as repelling dust. All this mean you won’t need to apply this tough formula very often, saving you plenty of time and effort.
Trim maintenance kit including soap, Forever Black plastic restorer, and applicator
Restores a dark, glossy finish to black plastic
Suitable for use with plastic, vinyl, and rubber
Made with the same polymers as these materials
Dries to a streak-free finish in just a few minutes
Forms a long-lasting protective layer that repels water and dust
Protective coating filters out harmful UV rays to protect the plastic beneath
- Weight12.8 ounces
The Chemical Guys offer drivers excellent value with this non-greasy black plastic restorer, which costs less than $11 for a large 16 ounce bottle. The long-lasting formula penetrates deep into plastic, restoring its shine and strength. Thanks to its creamy texture, the plastic restorer is easy to apply, too, and won’t leave you with a streaky finish or drip during application.
It’s also really versatile; suitable for plastic, vinyl, and rubber on both the exterior and interior of your vehicle. Wherever you apply the formula, you can count on the Chemical Guys’ powerful blend to protect against harmful UV rays, and repel water and dirt at the same time. With results that last for weeks at a time, Chemical Guys’ Super Shine dressing is certainly a sound investment.
Great value for money
Long-lasting formula can go for weeks between applications
Creamy textured formula is easy to apply
Quick-drying, non-greasy formula
Suitable for rubber, plastic and vinyl
Suitable for car interiors and exteriors
Forms a protective layer that shields plastic from UV rays, water, and dirt
- BrandChemical Guys
- Weight1.05 pounds
Mothers back to black plastic and trim restorer is a powerful formula that removes light oxidation, dirt, and wax residue from your plastic trim, and leaves behind a dark, shiny finish that’s designed to last.
Mothers’ patented blend also leaves a protective coating that stops water damage, sun damage, and debris from the road, bringing back the brand-new color. The solution is also diverse enough to be used on both the interior and exterior of your car, so it’s suitable for everything from vents and door handles to bumpers, molding, and trim. Mothers’ satisfaction guarantee ensures you can count on a high quality product every time.
Powerful plastic restorer that removes light oxidation and dirt
Leaves behind a dark, shiny finish
Provides a protective coating that stops water damage, sun damage, and damage from debris
Diverse solution can be applied to both the interior and exterior of your car
Fast to dry, and easy to apply
- Weight13.8 ounces
Armor All truly live up to their name with this trim and plastic restorer. The powerful formula leaves behind an armor-like coating, which protects it against fading, discoloration, and oxidation for up to 100 washes. The solution also shields plastic against UV radiation, preventing further damage.
Customers report that the formula is long-lasting, and really easy to use – applied in as little as 10 minutes. The protective coating restores plastic to like-new condition, and only needs to be reapplied every few weeks.
Powerful formula reverses the effects of plastic fading, discoloration, and oxidation
Protective coating shields plastic from UV radiation, dirt, and water
Lasts for up to 100 washes
Easy to apply using sponges
Restores plastic’s appearance to like-new tradition
Suitable for use on exterior trim, plastic and rubber surfaces
- BrandArmor All
Turtle Wax are a dab hand when it comes to protective products, and their plastic restorer is no exception. The carefully blended formula can be used on all sorts of plastic, rubber, and vinyl surfaces, such as window seals, molding, wiper arms, and door handles. It quickly penetrates the surface of the plastic to restore dull, faded black plastic to like-new appearance.
Turtle Wax trim restorer also leaves behind lasting protection against further color fading and plastic degradation for up to 60 days. Customers say this solution is great for interior plastics, such as dashboards and door panels too, and is really easy to apply. It’s a quick and simple to apply solution that keeps your trims looking great.
Suitable for all plastic, vinyl, and rubber surfaces
Restores faded black plastic to like-new condition
Leaves behind a lasting protective layer
Formula quickly penetrates the surface and dries fairly quickly
Suitable for both interior and exterior applications
- BrandTurtle Wax
- Weight11.2 ounces
Making their second appearance on our list are the Chemical Guys, with their unique sprayable plastic restorer. Just a few spritzes results in a non-greasy, dry-to-the-touch finish, which also boasts a dark matte appearance.
Suitable for use on vinyl, rubber, plastics, tires and even on your dashboard, the spray also leaves behind a protective coating that shields against water, dirt, and UV rays. It’s long-lasting, too, and only needs to be reapplied every few weeks. Applying the solution is easy, too – the spray dispenser spreads an even coat, which can be simply rubbed in with a cloth. The Chemical Guys offer each of their customers a satisfaction guarantee, showing the faith they put in their product.
Sprayable plastic restorer
Suitable for use on vinyl, rubber, and plastic
Suitable for both internal and external use
Leaves behind a matte finish
Protective coating shields the plastic against dirt, water, and UV rays
Long lasting solution only needs to be reapplied every few weeks
- BrandChemical Guys
- Weight1.21 pounds
As seen on TV, Detail Doctor’s instant plastic restorer quickly brings back color to faded parts. Suitable for use on not only plastic and vinyl, but leather too, the versatile formula is ideal for use on a huge variety of parts.
It’s also easy to use – simply wipe on and watch your plastic return to its former glory. The attractive, like-new appearance is complemented by a protective layer, which prevents harmful UV radiation damaging the plastic further in the future. The coating will last for months at a time, so you won’t be bogged down with regular re-application either. Customers report that this product works particularly well on vinyl roofs, so it’s perfect for vintage vehicles.
Restores color to faded black plastic parts
Suitable for use on plastic, vinyl, and leather
Easy to apply
Provides a protective layer that shields against UV radiation to prevent further damage
Perfect for vinyl roofs
- BrandDetail Doctor
- Weight8 ounces
Best Plastic Restorer Buying Guide & FAQ
These ten formulas represent what we believe are the best options on the market right now, offering drivers a safe, easy, and effective solution to the inevitable aging of plastic car components. To help you choose the product that’s best for you and your vehicle, we’ve put together this handy buying guide, addressing the most common questions that drivers have about this kind of product. We hope with this advice you can keep you car’s plastic components looking like new for many months and years to come.
Things to Consider When Buying a Plastic Restorer
Selecting the right restorer for you will depend on a few key factors, which we discuss below:
The highest quality, longest lasting, plastic restorers tend to be silicone free. Silicone-based restorers act more like a dye than an actual restoration product, and tend to produce a glossier finish than their silicone-free counterparts. This is great if you really just need to touch up your plastic components, but for a longer-lasting and less superficial solution, it’s a good idea to turn to a silicone free formula, like those on the list above.
- Areas of Use
Not all plastic restorers are equally versatile when it comes to surfaces, and you should always check the manufacturer’s description when deciding if a product is right for the applications you have in mind. For instance, some formulas are suitable for both interior and exterior use, but not all of them. Equally, some products can be used on your tires, rubber seals, and even leather seats, whereas others have been formulated specifically for rigid plastics. Be sure to work out exactly where you plan to use the restorer before making your final purchasing decision, to avoid potentially damaging components of your car.
- Ease of Application
Working out how easy a product is to apply before buying it is always a good idea. Look out for plastic restorers that come with their own application solutions - such as a sponge or cloth - since this suggests the manufacturers have carefully thought through the process. If in doubt, look for customer reviews, since these very often mention how easy or challenging it is to actually use the product.
The type of finish you want will also affect which plastic restorer you end up choosing. Some are designed to leave a wet-look glossy finish, while others result in a more matte appearance. It’s usually best to choose a finish that best matches how your plastic surfaces originally looked, so if it fades faster in one area the result is less conspicuous. It’s also a good idea to look out for a dry-to-the-touch finish, that will prevent debris from sticking to your car, or the finish rubbing off on your skin or clothes.
- Level of Protection
Another important factor to bear in mind when choosing your plastic restorer is the level of protection it will offer. Look out for a restorer that will protect against UV rays first of all, since the sun tends to be the biggest threat to plastic car components. The next most important type of protection is probably water resistance, closely followed by resistance to dust and dirt.
Why You Should Use a Trim Restorer
Making use of a plastic trim restorer has a whole host of benefits - below we outline a few:
- A good plastic restorer will replenish the dark black color to plastic trims
- Many formulas are versatile enough to be used on a huge variety of components, including leather seats, tires, rubber window seals, plastic door handles, and plastic bumpers
- Most plastic restorers are environmentally friendly, so no need to worry if you spill a little
- Plastic restorers won’t damage your car’s paintwork if they spill onto it
- Plastic restorers often achieve long-lasting results
- These formulas are easy and convenient to apply
- Keeping your trim in good condition is a great way to improve the overall appearance of your vehicle
- A high quality plastic restorer will also protect your car’s plastic components against future damage
- The protective layer left behind by most plastic restorers filter out harmful UV rays, and shield against dirt and water
How to Keep Plastic Trim Black?
Resorting to a professionally made plastic restorer is a great way to keep your plastic trims a dark black, or restoring them to their original color. However, there are also a few DIY tricks you might consider trying to restore plastic components to their original glory:
- Rub in some Oil
For light damage and scuffs, one simple homemade solution is to rub a little boiled linseed oil onto your plastic surface before allowing to dry. The oil simply provides a protective coating and shine.
- Consider a Heat Gun
This can be a risky strategy, but some auto DIY enthusiasts have great success using the heat gun method. Using the heat gun, gently apply heat to the plastic surface to bring the oils within to the surface. Be sure to try an inconspicuous spot first, as this method won’t work 100% of the time. Also try to heat the surface evenly, not overheating one spot to ensure it doesn’t burn. Keep health and safety in mind when using a heat gun too, donning some heat-proof gloves and goggles.
- Paint the Trim
If you have some time on your hands, and a little DIY skill, another option is to simply remove plastic components from your vehicle and give them a coat of paint. This method allows you to choose the color your want - just be sure to purchase a paint designed for plastic surfaces. Also remember to give the components to be painted a really thorough clean before painting them. This will prevent an uneven finish and give the paint the best chance of sticking.
Best Plastic Restorer FAQ:
Q: What is a Plastic Restorer?
A: A plastic restorer is a solution - usually of a gel or cream consistency - designed to restore the color and lustre of black plastic. Typically, these restorers are used on plastic trims and bumpers, but other uses include windshield wiper arms, or interior components such as your dashboard.
As well as restoring color to plastic, vinyl, and sometimes rubber components, many plastic restorers leave behind a protective coating to prevent further damage to the plastic from UV rays, water, and dirt. These products are generally inexpensive, and easy to apply yourself at home.
Q: Will trim restorers strip the wax coating off my car?
A: Usually, yes - plastic restorers remove whatever substances are on the surface of the trim, and replace it with a protective layer that shields against UV radiation, water, and dirt.
If you do spill the formula onto your car’s paintwork, however, it is unlikely to affect the wax finish there - unless you really rub it in firmly! Any overspill can simply be wiped away with a cleaning cloth, and won’t affect your car’s paintwork at all. If you’re really concerned about your car’s finish, however, you can always place some masking tape around the edges of the trim or bumper you plan on treating.
Q: Can I use trim restorers on vinyl?
A: In the vast majority of cases, yes, you can use trim restorers on vinyl surfaces. Always check information provided by the manufacturer before using the product, but most plastic restorers are suitable for use on plastics, vinyl, and rubber. Some can even be used on interior materials such as leather seats!
Since vinyl tends to have a fairly glossy appearance, you’ll probably want to choose a restorer that leaves this kind of shiny finish, for a really authentic look.
Q: How long does it last once applied?
A: How long a plastic restorer lasts really depends upon the type you choose, and how damaged your plastic surfaces are.
The products on this list need to be reapplied between a few weeks to a few months, but if your car is regularly subject to harsh sunlight or dusty tracks, you’ll likely need to apply the treatment more often.
It’s a good idea to make a note in your calendar when you first apply the coating, so you can see exactly how long the effects last for your vehicle and driving conditions. With this information, it’s easy to incorporate the restorer into your regular car cleaning routine.
Our Top Pick
For us, the best plastic restorer has to be TriNova’s long-lasting and cost-effective solution. The powerful gel formula is easy to apply, and quickly works its way into its the plastic’s surface, restoring its dark and shine, while simultaneously creating a protective layer that shields the trim against water, dust and dirt, and the sun’s harmful UV rays.
The streak-free formula also ensures an even, lasting finish, which only needs to be reapplied every month or so. The included applicator pad makes this formula simple and hassle-free to apply to any vehicle, without leaving a sticky finish. Overall, the restorer does exactly what it says on the can - quickly, easily, and for a great price.