Car trim repair

Written by robert russell
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Auto trim mainly serves both an aesthetic and utilitarian purpose on most vehicles. The trim around windows and doors helps to form a seal that makes the doors and windows airtight and waterproof. The exterior trim on your vehicle takes a lot of abuse from sunlight and UV waves, ozone damage, and from harsh weather conditions. If the trim is not routinely cleaned and maintained it will quickly deteriorate and make your car look old and worn.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Soap
  • Sponge
  • Lint-free towel
  • Sandpaper
  • Epoxy/ silicone caulk
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Trim dye/ automotive primer/ automotive paint
  • Vinyl and rubber protectant
  • Adhesive remover
  • Putty knife
  • Double-sided tape

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    Faded Trim

  1. 1

    Wash the trim with soap and water. Scrub the trim with a sponge or scouring pad and remove surface dirt, grime, and debris. Dry the trim with a lint-free towel.

  2. 2

    Sand rough edges, nicks, and scrapes with a fine grit sandpaper. Sand the areas until the damaged spots are smooth and even with the surrounding areas.

  3. 3

    Fill cracks and gouges with epoxy, silicone caulk, or a similar patching material. Allow the repaired areas to dry. Sand with a light grit sandpaper.

  4. 4

    Wipe the trim with denatured alcohol and a clean cloth. This removes oils, fingerprints and other contaminants.

  5. 5

    Restore the colour with vinyl trim dye or trim dye. Trim dye such as Forever Black works well for rubber trim. Spray paint works well on vinyl trim. Protect the areas around the trim with masking tape and newspaper to avoid getting trim paint or dye on the car paint. Trim dye is applied with a foam applicator tip. Hold the dye bottle upside down and wipe the trim with the tip. If you are painting the trim hold the nozzle eight inches above the trim. Apply a light coat of paint by moving the can back and forth. Allow the first coat to dry and then apply a second coat.

  6. 6

    Apply a protective coating to the trim. A variety of protectants for vinyl and rubber are available at auto parts store. They are easy to use and will protect the trim from ozone and UV damage.

    Loose Trim

  1. 1

    Gently peel the loose and hanging trim from the vehicle. The trim is secured to your vehicle with an adhesive. Peeling the trim slowly will prevent you from breaking the trim and from damaging the paint underneath.

  2. 2

    Set a tarp down on the floor or on a work bench. Lay the trim face down on the tarp.

  3. 3

    Apply an adhesive remover to the back of the trim. Allow it to penetrate the adhesive for several minutes. Scrape off the adhesive with a putty knife. Wipe trim with denatured alcohol and a rag to remove the last traces of adhesive residue. Repeat the procedure to remove the old adhesive from the car. It is important to have a clean and smooth surface when reattaching the trip to the car.

  4. 4

    Attach double-sided tape to the back side of the trim. Peel off the paper layer on the back of the tape and attach the trim firmly to the vehicle. This task is easier to do if you have someone to help you. Hold the trim firmly in place for several minutes.

  5. 5

    Wipe the trim with denatured alcohol and a clean cloth to remove fingerprints and contaminants from the surface of the trim.

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