Exterior Plastics & Trim
Exterior Trim & Plastics
Are the plastics & trim on your vehicle dull, chalky or faded? Have you forgotten if they are meant to be black or grey? Do you have white polish or wax residue on black plastics?
Exterior Trim & Plastics are those little details of your vehicle that when clean and looking their best, really set off look of the car. Whether it is a black car, where every material not looking as dark as the paintwork really shows, or a white car, where the contrast can between the trim and glossy white paintwork can detract from the overall look, dark looking trim is an area of your car to get right.
So why does Plastic Trim fade?
To understand why these materials fade and how best to treat this issue, we should examine what they are comprised of.
Nylons, polystyrene, polycarbonates, weatherable ASA-AES, PVC, polypropylene, polyesters, and urethanes are the materials the make up all the exterior plastic surfaces of our vehicles.
Generally these materials have the colour additive included in the manufacturing process rather than sprayed or painted on. Fading can occur due to bleaching and UV breaking down the surface layer. Peroxide Gases are emitted from the plastics, and as these are mixed with UV, deteriorate the surface, contributing to the fading we all dread seeing.
How do I remove wax or polish residue from plastics?
Hours of work spent cleaning, polishing, waxing your paintwork only to realise next time you take your car out, there are white stains from wax or polish on your plastic trim. First we want to remove the residue, and then restore the plastic to their former glory.
For removing polish and Wax residue sometimes an all purpose cleaner just doesn’t cut it. A product such as CarPro TAR X contains a citrus based solvent that can assist in dissolving and breaking down the residue much more thoroughly. Spray onto an applicator or cloth and apply to the area affected. Allow it sit on the surface but not dry. Gently agitate the area with a soft brush (toothbrush works well) or microfibre cloth. Wipe the surface to remove all the product reside and inspect the area.
As solvent based products use an oil base we will need to remove all of it from the surface as not only will it be hiding the true condition underneath but will also prevent bonding from a dressing or coating to restore the finish and keep it looking its best. Here Carpro Eraser (Intensive Oil & Residue Remover) works great. Spray onto cloth, wipe onto the surface and gentle rub to remove any oils. The surface should be left matte and dry.
How do I restore my plastics back to the darker colour they were?
Clean, prepare and protect are the three steps we want to follow to restore faded plastic trim. First is the cleaning process to remove physical dirt bonded to the surface. Following this, depending what coating we are using, we prepare the surface to allow bonding of protection product. Next we apply a protective product to the surface where we can find there are two basic options here in terms of durability; dressing vs coating.
If we are using a dressing to restore the colour back to the finish, we would expect it have a durability of 1-3 months. Dressings can restore the finish easily and quickly and will bond to most surfaces. Here when cleaning and preparing the surface we want to make sure we clean off the physical dirt and a dedicated exterior all-purpose cleaner works great.
We have chosen Scholl Concepts SPAM however, P21S Total Auto Wash or Detailer’s Pro Series Cleanse-All Exterior work well also. Spray an applicator or cloth with the cleaner and wipe on to the surface. Allow the product to sit for a minute without drying on the surface. You can use a small brush to agitate the surface or microfibre cloth, next wipe off all the product from the surface.
To restore our plastic trim we have a dressing from Carpro called PERL. This is a water based Silica (as opposed to silicone) dressing which works equally well on trim as tyres and engine plastics. You can also dilute PERL depending on the look you after, the stronger the dilution, the glossier the finish. Simply apply PERL with a PERL applicator to the surface in a thin layer. You can apply multiple layers to increase the durability.
To give a longer term protection to our restored plastics and trim, we can look at a coating from Carpro called Cquartz Dlux. Cquartz Dlux a member of the infamous Cquartz paint coating family, and is purpose designed for plastics and trim to be very hydrophobic, detergent resistant, self-cleaning properties as opposed to the overall hardness of the coatings for paint. Dlux lasts for 6-12+ months and really is dependent on your application process.
Here we like to clean and prepare the surface as thoroughly as possible as any oils on the surface will affect the durability of our coating. Our cleaning product of choice is P21S Total Auto Wash to assist in dissolving and breaking down the residue much more thoroughly. Spray onto an applicator or cloth and apply to the area affected. Allow it sit on the surface but not dry. Gently agitate the area with a soft brush (toothbrush works well) or microfibre cloth. Wipe the surface to remove all remaining product and inspect the area.
We now want to remove any oil or surfactant residue remaining from the previous cleaning step as it will be hiding the true condition underneath and prevent bonding from our coating to restore the finish and keep it looking its best. Here Carpro Eraser (Intensive Oil & Residue Remover) works great. Spray onto a microfibre cloth, wipe onto the surface and gentle rub to remove any oils. The surface should be left matte and dry.
Now we move onto protection.
- Take out a small microfibre suede applicator cloth and wrap it around the Cquartz foam applicator, grey side up.
- Apply 5-6 drops on to the microfibre suede
- Wipe the surface with the applicator, spreading the Dlux onto the area to be treated.
- If you are applying to textured plastic, make sure you have a applied a thin layer and leave it. You do not need to wipe off any residue.
- If you are applying to a glossy plastic, allow to sit for 2-3 min then wipe off gently using a low pile microfibre cloth.
When using Cquartz Dlux;
- Allow to cure for 1-2 hours before being in contact with water. If the surface gets wet within the first 24hr, remove water from the surface.
- Avoid washing the car for 3 days after application.
- Wear protective gloves and avoid contact with skin and eyes
- Coating can be affected by high pH 11+ chemicals.