How to Restore Car Trim

Written by skip shelton Google
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How to Restore Car Trim
Chrome vehicle trim can be damaged through long-term exposure to corrosive deposits. (Car fin image by Dreadman from

Restoring car trim requires revitalising the plastics. Trim becomes degraded, discoloured or stained through exposure to sunlight, weather, road oils, car washes, bugs, saps, deposits and other car protection products (waxes in particular). Trim restoration requires thoroughly cleaning the surface and then restoring any essential oils to provide colour restoration and environmental protection. Painted trim requiring restoration should be treated as any other painted portion of the vehicle rather than as standard trim restoration.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Painter's tape
  • Mild soap
  • Soft-bristled brushes
  • Towels
  • Rubber gloves
  • Armour-All or other trim protectant
  • Metal polish
  • Cleaner car wax
  • Vinegar
  • Aluminium foil
  • Toothpicks
  • Cotton swabs

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  1. 1

    Wash and dry the vehicle and exterior trim to remove any deposits.

  2. 2

    Clean the trim with a soft bristled brush with a high concentration car wash product. Because many trims are not smooth, wiping over trim during regular washing may leave deposits behind in the rough surface. Use the bristles of the brush to remove the deposits.

  3. 3

    Open doors, trunks and bonnets to clean hard to reach places. Because the trim will extend beyond the reachable surface, you may have to get creative in how you clean them. Toothbrushes, toothpicks, thin cloth strips and cotton swabs may all be used to clean difficult to reach areas.

  4. 4

    Cover all painted surfaces near the trim with painter's tape. This will allow you to apply protectant to the surface of the trim without applying it to unwanted areas.

  5. 5

    Apply the trim restoration product into the trim. Work the fluid in fine circles to allow the oils to deeply embed in the trim surfaces. Oxidised trim will reabsorb the oils resulting in colour restoration and a longer lasting shine.

  6. 6

    Wipe away any excess material and remove the painter's tape. Inspect the painted surfaces and wipe away any over-spray or drips.

  1. 1

    Remove any bug or tar deposits with a rag soaked in bug and tar remover or a cleaner wax.

  2. 2

    Cover any painted areas near the metal trim with painter's tape.

  3. 3

    Work metal cleaner or cleaner car wax into the whole surface of the metal trim according to manufacturer's instructions. Wipe away any residue.

  4. 4

    Polish the surface of the metal trim with a towel to restore the shine.

Tips and warnings

  • For chrome trim with small rust deposits, use vinegar on aluminium foil and rub the chrome until the rust deposits are removed. Avoid getting vinegar on any other portion of the vehicle.
  • When waxing your vehicle, protect your trim. Waxes will stain plastic trims and may require significant rubbing with cleaners and brushes to remove all of the wax deposits.

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