Restoring Faded Plastic Trim with Back-to-Black

The foreground shows the "after" while the background shows the "before"

Oxidized plastic and rubber really shows the age of a car. Want to help make your old car look new off the show room floor? No amount of polish and cleaning will do it if the unpainted black plastic surfaces and rubber moldings look nearly white from UV exposure.

Project Lexus’ cowl area was starting to look pretty rough after 10 years of sun exposure and the rubber weather sealing strips could use some help as well. So I wanted to share with you this quick detailing tip and share my results.

Mothers back-to-black is a product that restores black rubber and plastic surfaces to their original black color with pretty amazing results. While it’s not a permanent fix, it does last a long time and the results are certainly worth it. You could buy new panels, but aside from the expense, they’ll eventually wind up the same way as well so it’s easier to simply treat with back-to-black occasionally.

There are other ways to go about this and I’m not plugging mothers for any particular reason other than it’s what I used this weekend to clean up project Lexus.

The secret I’ve found with this product on uneven surfaces (like the cowl area by the windshield) is to apply the product directly to the surface and rub it around with a soft brush or your fingers, this makes sure you don’t wind up with unreached creases. Then just wipe it down and massage it really good with a towel to get up any excess and to massage away some of the oxidation and dirt that has built up over the years.

Closer look

You can use the product on the weather stripping, mirrors, unpainted bumpers, plastic in the engine bay, and of course any unpainted black plastic on your car. The only important detail is that the surface MUST be cool to the touch when you use it, so it’s best to do in the shade or in a garage.

Restoring trim like this can really make an older car look showroom again and it makes a great mindless activity on the weekend to unwind and do something for your car.

I believe I paid about $6 for the bottle which was plenty to do the whole car and a few reapplications. If anyone knows a better product for the same purpose, do feel free to share.


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