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Faded Black Trim – A Detailer’s Guide

If you’re like me and you own a car with plastic black trimming in the wheel wells, bumper or possibly in the roof area, then you’ll remember how amazing it can look when it’s brand new. Unfortunately, you may also come to realize how depressing it can look when it starts to fade over time.

That kind of fading in your car’s black trimming is not anything you’ve done wrong. The passage of time, effects of the weather and the sun, and other wear and tear will eventually strip away that deep and glorious black and leave behind something worse. Wings Mobile Detailing operates with Ford Transit vans, which feature a gray trim around the wheel well, and they suffer the same effect. It’s not a problem exclusive to either new or old vehicles, and how bad it gets depends on all the factors we mention above and more.

What can I do about the faded black trim?

It’s only natural to want to do something about it, in today’s blog, I’ll be sharing with you some of my own insights on how to manage the black trim, keeping it looking its best and what to do when it inevitably gets more serious over time. I deal with it on my own Dodge Pickup, and enjoy the benefits of all the following ideas:

Step 1: Assess the extent of the fading

Before you even make a proper plan about what to do next, you need to take a look at the trim and see how serious the fading is. If it’s only slightly faded; perhaps to the extent that you can tell the difference but many others might not be able to, then Step 2 is the next natural thing for you to do. If it’s noticeably faded, then proceed directly to step 3.

How far the trim has faded really matters in the case of black trim. Like the paintwork on your car, there is a point at which no product will make any meaningful difference. You can’t restore something that is truly lost. This is why the first step is to take a close look at the trim and see what’s what.

Step 2: Use a specially made sealant or restorative product to restore shine

When the wear isn’t so serious, you can call on a product like Simoniz Back to Black Trim Protector, or Wipe New from Home Depot. These are designed to perform a partial restoration on the trim to keep it looking fresh and new. What they cannot do, however, is perform miracles, so don’t expect them to restore the paint to full color if it’s too far gone (or if it’s that gray shade from our Transit vans).

If you’re wondering if wax, paint sealant or one of your other products might do the trick, it’s not good news. Wax especially will do no favors to the black plastic. If you’ve ever noticed an unsightly or irritating white residue on your black trimming, that’s actually dried wax that can build up there if you detail at home but don’t quite get all the wax off.

Step 3: Try the heat gun

There’s one more wild card you can play in restoring your black trimming to splendor, and that’s using the heat gun. This one sounds a little crazy at first, but hear me out. The truth is that if you have left your black trimming unattended for too long, then no matter what you do to it, it’s not going to regain that lost gloss. This method can work to add at least a piece of that splendor back.

If you take a heat gun and gently apply in a waving motion across the whole trim, without getting too close or staying in one spot too long, of course, you will achieve a very slight melting away of the upper layer. Depending on the exact state of the trim, removing some of that very top layer can reveal some of the original black underneath. It’s a method I’ve tried with some success, but I won’t say it’ll give you results every time.

STILL, if you are not a detailer professional, avoid using this method as it is extremely easy to burn the paint of your car.

Step 4: Consider a professional paint job

The final plan you could consider is a repaint of the trim, which you could do yourself or ask a professional to help you out. No matter what the restorative products you buy claim to be able to do on their packaging, “restoration” is not always viable. A paint job could get you a nice color back, though it may never truly regain that “brand-new” gloss that you loved when you bought it.

Like any part of your car, the trim goes through wear and tear and eventually loses its sparkle. The best policy is to take a preventative approach, making use of some of the products we mention above before you go past the point of no return. Stay tuned for more info from the Wings Mobile Detailing Podcast in the coming weeks!

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