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How to Restore Your Car's Faded Black Trim

restore black trim
You really can restore your car's faded trim to its original deep black color. Car Guys

Love it or hate it, a lot of cars have black textured trim instead of chrome. This material — sometimes rubbery, sometimes more like plastic — is used to provide a bit of extra protection along fender flares and side skirts, add visual interest and break up big areas of body color. It also can make vehicles look a little more rugged, particularly when used on wagons and crossovers.

Unfortunately, it doesn't take long before that black trim starts to look a little stale. Over time, UV rays — and all of the other weather elements — start to fade the deep black trim to a dingy gray. And the problem isn't just aesthetics, either. According to Consumer Reports, the material itself can become so dry, it can degrade and lose its flexibility and become vulnerable to cracking or breaking.

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But all is not lost. If the black trim is fading on your car, it takes just a little effort to restore it. Many products are designed specifically for this purpose, and although they're made for trim, they work in much the same way as other car detailing products. That means they're intended to restore the trim's original look immediately, though they'll also provide lasting protection. But you'll also have to reapply the product periodically, just like you would with car wax.

There are a lot of trim restoration products on the market, including liquids, gels and wipes. How you apply them is different, but they all achieve the same goals. Some trim restoration products contain a black dye; just be aware that if you choose one that does, it will likely stain anything else it comes in contact with, not just the car's trim. Otherwise, like most other car detailing tasks, the time and skill you put into it is just as important as the actual product you choose.

How to Apply It Right

  1. Make sure your car is freshly washed and fully dry.
  2. Park it out of direct sunlight and in an area with good ventilation.
  3. Apply the trim restoration product using an applicator or a clean cloth, or according to the directions.
  4. Buff off any excess, let dry and repeat as necessary.

Be sure to wear gloves and take care to keep the product off your skin and clothing.

Once you've achieved the desired results, consider using your trim restoration product on other parts of your car that have lost that showroom shine; restoration products can be used on other black rubber or plastic surfaces, such as window seals and tire sidewalls (but not on the tread, because it'll interfere with your traction). You also can seal your work with a coat of a UV-blocking spray, which will provide an extra layer between your car's fast-to-fade trim and the sun's damaging rays.

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