How to Refurbish Interior Plastic Parts in a Car

Updated April 17, 2017

The interior plastic parts in a car can become scratched and scraped, making them look old and worn. But they can be refurbished to look like new. The dash, centre console and parts of the door panel are made of plastic that has been dyed from the factory. These are usually not made of coloured plastic material. With some work and a few materials, your interior can look like new or better.

Lay a dust sheet or an old sheet on the floor and over the seats of the car. The sanding and painting will create a mess, and the sheet can protect the seats and carpet. Remove or cover the radio and other electronics very carefully. Dust particles and paint overspray can be harmful to these parts.

Sand the plastic areas that need to be refurbished. Use 600-grit sandpaper, which doesn't leave large scratches in the surface. This smooths the plastic, removes scratches or flaking paint and creates a roughed-up surface so paint adheres better and more evenly. Wipe all plastic parts down with wax and grease remover and a microfiber towel. This removes and wax or grease particles left from cleaners and fingerprints, which can cause bubbling in the paint.

Spray a thin coat of adhesion promoter for plastic over the area that is to be refurbished. Hold the can 6 inches from the surface and use short, even strokes. Wait 30 minutes for the adhesion promoter to dry. The adhesion promoter creates a film that the paint can adhere to better than the smooth plastic. This means that the paint is much less likely to flake or peel later.

Apply three thin coats of paint. Hold the can 6 inches away from the surface and apply the coats in even strokes. Thin coats are best so the paint doesn't run. Wait 10 minutes between each coat for the paint to dry.

Add three thin coats of clear-coat paint, using the same spraying techniques as with the paint. The clear coat adds a gloss to the paint, as well as a protective layer, keeping the paint looking like new longer. Remove all masking tape and paper and wait a full day before handling the freshly painted area.


Spraying the plastic parts with paint without sanding them first can produce the same look, but the paint won't last nearly as long.


Never sand or spray paint in an enclosed area. Open all doors and have the car parked in a well ventilated area.

Things You'll Need

  • 600-grit sandpaper
  • Dust sheet
  • Wax and grease remover
  • Microfiber towel
  • Masking paper
  • Masking tape
  • Adhesion promoter for plastic
  • Spray paint for plastic
  • Clear coat spray paint
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About the Author

Since 1997 Jenny Carver has served as editor and freelance writer for many offline and online publications including,, "Hoof Beat News," "Import Tuner" and others. Carver owns a custom automotive shop where she has been doing paint and body work, custom interior work and engine building for over 11 years.