How to restore vinyl on a car

Updated July 20, 2017

The vinyl on car seats, dashboards, doors and windows can fade and crack after years of exposure to the sun. In the case of classic cars, tattered vinyl may even decrease the car's overall value. Restoring vinyl is simple and requires only a few items and a little time, but it can drastically improve the appearance and value of your vehicle. Jim McGowan with Auto Media notes that the process works no matter the year, make or model of your car.

Clean the vinyl surface of any dirt, dust or residue with a damp cloth.

Roughen the surface of the vinyl with a mildly abrasive pad.

Apply three coats of a vinyl restorer. If using an aerosol product, do not spray it directly on the car's interior because it can cause streaks and ruin the vinyl. Spray it on a soft rag, then apply it to the vinyl.

Wipe the vinyl with a cloth rag dampened with a bit of soapy water to remove the cleaning residue and eliminate any stickiness.

Once the vinyl is clean and dry, apply a vinyl conditioner such as Armor All to protect the sheen.


If you don't want to buy a commercial vinyl restorer, try baby oil or petroleum jelly to restore the shine. Faded vinyl may require a recoloring product. Car parts suppliers carry many options and can even order custom colours.


Ensure the vinyl is completely dry and the seats are not slippery before you drive to prevent slipping while you are operating the car.

Things You'll Need

  • Abrasive pad
  • Vinyl restorer
  • Soap and water
  • 2 cloth rags
  • Vinyl conditioner
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About the Author

Brad Yach has written original marketing text for, and He earned a bachelor's degree in English from Florida Atlantic University in 2009.