Proper Care of Trim & Molding

Graying trim gives away your vehicle's age. Turn back the clock with these simple tips.

Black plastic and rubber trim are all the rage with SUV and truck manufacturers because it’s structurally durable and attractive. To keep it that way, you have to perform some simple preventative maintenance. Just look at what can happen to black plastic trim when its left unprotected… Automotive Trim careBeyond regular washing, you should also clean plastic and rubber exterior trim with a quality exterior surface cleaner every 2-3 months. Your car shampoo is formulated to preserve wax and therefore it will likely preserve trim dressings. You need a stronger cleaner to remove old dressing. Use a diluted all purpose cleaner or DP Cleanse-All Exterior Cleaner and scrub porous trim using a nylon-bristled brush. Take care to avoid overspray since these cleaners will remove wax. Rinse off the cleaner and wipe dry.


Why should you remove old dressings? If you’ve used a silicone-based rubber and vinyl protectant, it will eventually start to brown. Subsequent dressings will be unable to bond with the slick silicone coating. For the best protection, you should occasionally remove old dressings and start fresh.

Choose a water-based protectant formulated for exterior rubber, vinyl, and plastic. 303 Aerospace Protectant is among the best exterior surface protectants you can buy. You might be thinking that a water-based protectant can’t possibly stand up to rain. That’s not true! Water is just the carrier – it evaporates, leaving behind the protective polymers. The polymers are what protect the trim and withstand the rain. Wipe your protectant of choice on the clean, dry trim and molding using a foam applicator.


Chase Away the Gray Forever Black Tire careAfter your vehicle’s trim has already faded, you can restore the color temporarily or more permanently. Some trim restorers will temporarily darken plastic and rubber. These products are effective solutions to people that are committed to detailing every week or so. For people that want a permanent solution, there’s Forever Black.


Forever Black Bumper & Trim Dye Kit is a permanent black-pigmented polymer dye that re-colors black porous plastics and rubber. Forever Black works best on textured surfaces that will allow the dye to soak in. For the longest-lasting results, regularly apply a protectant to the exterior trim to maintain the color of Forever Black.


For smooth and lightly textured exterior plastics, try Black Wow. This is a great restoration product for exterior plastics of any color. It is not a dye; Black Wow is a silicone-based restorer and cleaner that quenches dry plastics to naturally darken them back to their original color. In the meantime, a built-in cleaner lifts residues to make the trim look darker and cleaner. Black Wow creates a very long-lasting matte finish.

Don’t forget the weatherstripping! Rubber door seals don’t offer much WOW factor, but it is in your vehicle’s best interest to take care of them. If the rubber becomes brittle and cracked, you’ll experience an increase in road noise and a decrease in fuel efficiency. Your heat and air conditioning system will have to work harder to counteract the drafty seals. Apply a rubber protectant regularly to keep door seals soft and supple.