Practically every vehicle nowadays is built with a large amount of exterior rubber, vinyl, and plastic. They are used to manufacture everything from weather seals and wheel wells to bumpers and cladding. These parts are made with materials known as polymers. Polymers have unique properties that make them ideal for car usage. They are strong, light, and resist corrosion. They can also be molded into almost any design to fit the car’s aesthetics.
The problem with these polymers is that they are subjected to many harsh environments. Heat, oil, light, ozone, grime, and tar, for example, can cause polymers to age prematurely. This is called degradation, and ultimately results in discoloration, loss of gloss and strength, decreased flexibility and cracking. For many people, having their car under a shade every day can be almost impossible. A car will spend many hours under the sun’s rays, and this is one of the leading causes of polymer degradation.
Here are the best plastic restorer for automobiles. Some have many uses; others are designed to help solve one or two specific problems. Check out this review and pick the one that fits your needs.
The Best Plastic Restorer
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1. Meguiar’s G15812 Ultimate Black Plastic Restorer
This restorer comes in a 12-oz. bottle. It is designed to restore exterior plastic surfaces. Among these are door handles, windshields cowlings, vinyl and rubber trim bumpers, and moldings.
Its formula includes a UV clear-coat technology that will prevent sunlight degradation by sealing most non-porous surfaces. The product dries almost instantly and is not greasy. One advantage is that it will not streak when treated surfaces get wet, so it is perfect for using it even on rainy days.
Surfaces treated with Meguiar’s protectant get a darker look and shine. Best of all, one bottle will last a long time because you don’t need to apply much to obtain good results.
The application process is simple. Once the surface has been cleaned, you apply a small amount of protectant on a cotton terry cloth or towel and evenly and thoroughly rub it on. Let it dry and then wipe off any excess with a clean towel. If the surface is pretty damaged, several additional applications might be needed. You will get a slick and glossy finish by using this product.
- Makes trim and plastic almost look like new
- UV protection makes it a good choice if your car is under the sun regularly
- Even surfaces that are pretty degraded can get a noticeably improved look after using this product
- Doesn’t have a pleasant smell
- Needs to be re-applied after a few weeks
2. Trinova Plastic & Trim Restorer
Trinova’s restorer will revitalize vinyl and plastic surfaces as well as rubber trim, giving them a showroom look. Once applied, it coats the surface and repels damaging elements such as dirt, salt, and rain to keep the surface shining. It comes in an 8-oz. bottle with a pop-top, and can be applied easily since it is not a watery formula; it is more like a gel with a consistency similar to motor oil.
Its formula also helps prevent fading and cracking, and won’t leave a streaky residue if it gets wet.
An applicator pad is included in the purchase. All you need to do is apply some restorer on the pad and wipe it onto any surface until it is absorbed. If there is any excess, it can be wiped off with a microfiber cloth.
- Can be used on exterior and interior surfaces
- Gives a great look to tires
- The formula contains ingredients for UV ray protection
It needs to be applied monthly, so you’ll need to buy about four bottles to get you through the year.
3. MEDS ReNu Pro (RPK4) Automotive Trim Restorer Kit
Renu Pro is meant to restore chalky and faded surfaces, such as bumpers, mirrors or fender flares and give them a deep luster. Its formula does not contain any silicone or wax. One main advantage is that once you apply it, it lasts a very long time. One coat can last up to 12 months.
The kit contains everything you need to get the job done: a 4-ounce bottle of the restorer, two pads to apply the product, one finishing cloth to wipe off any residues, and a pair of gloves. It is recommended to use it only on exterior surfaces with a dark gray or black color.
- One bottle is enough to use on several cars
- Apply and forget, it can take up to a year before you need to apply it again.
- The formula doesn’t include any silicon or wax, which makes it spot painter and body shop friendly
- Product has a strong smell; apply it in a well-ventilated area
- You need to be careful with how much amount you use; if it’s too much, the surface can feel sticky and wiping it off will require plenty of elbow grease
4. Mothers 06110-6 Back-to-Black Trim & Plastic Restorer
Mothers restorer gives surfaces a dark, factory-new sheen. It can be used even on sunburnt plastic, vinyl or rubber, leaving a long-lasting and protective barrier that prevents further deterioration caused by ozone, the sun, rain, smog, and similar airborne contaminants.
If you want a product that is easy to apply, this is the one. Each aerosol bottle contains 10 oz. of the restorer. All you need to do is spray it on and walk away. No scrubbing or buffing needed.
The aerosol will coat the surface with a fine, even mist for an effortless way to get deep, rich blacks. It is perfect for hard-to-reach areas such as fender wells, grilles, and engine hoses.
The restorer can also be used to coat light oxidation and wax residues.
- Can be used on practically any exterior vinyl or plastic surfaces and does not leave a greasy residue
- Any overspray can be quickly wiped off without any residual discoloration
- Even though it’s called Back-to-Black, it also works great on any exterior trim color
- The fine mist makes it easy to apply on even thin trims
- Although it is not overpowering, it has a mild chemical smell
- Not recommended for interior surfaces
5. Armor All 17451 Outlast Trim and Plastic Restorer
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Armor All before. Their products are used by professionals and amateurs alike and include a comprehensive catalog of car-detailing products.
The Outlast restorer comes in an 8-oz. bottle and is formulated to make plastic, rubber, and vinyl look like new. Any surface that has become dull or discolored can be rejuvenated with this formula.
Armor All tested this product on a car that was subjected to several automatic car wash cycles. The restorer is claimed to be able to withstand over 100 washes.
It is applied like other restorers; simply pour it onto a damp microfiber towel or directly onto the surface, and spread it evenly until you have a light coating. Let it rest for at least 5 minutes so it can penetrate into the pores, and then wipe up any excess product with a clean towel. If the surface you are using it on is very porous, you might need to apply multiple coats.
One advantage is that this formula can be used on both interior and exterior surfaces, and is safe for any trim color. It contains ingredients that prevent damage caused by UV rays, discoloration, oxidation, and fading.
- Made by Armor All, a brand recognized around the world
- Does not leave surfaces with an oily or slippery feeling
- Affordable price
If it is used in hot environments, it doesn’t last long and needs to be reapplied
6. Solution Finish – Black Plastic & Vinyl Restorer
Solution Finish is designed to restore black surfaces to a deep, rich color without giving them a shiny wet look. It dries quickly and leaves no greasy residue to worry about.
This product is used by many professionals and auto shops. It is VOC compliant and its formula is silicon-free and contains natural oils. Silicon products are used to leave a coating layer on the surface, while Solution Finish penetrates into the pores.
The way Solution Finish works are kind of interesting: First, it dissolves any oxidation that may be present on the surface you are treating. Then it puts back carbon into it and locks in a chemical that prevents any further oxidation. This also restores, conditions, and protects the surface.
If the product spills over to glass or paint, it can be removed with a towel. Even though each bottle contains 1 oz. of the restorer, it is enough for three passenger cars when correctly applied.
- You only need a tiny amount to get great results, so a bottle lasts a long time
- Leaves a factory look on the surface
- Used by professional detailers
- You need to be careful when using it because it can stain your clothes.
- Cannot be used on colored trims, just black or dark gray
7. Vinyl Magic: Plastic and Trim Restorer
Vinyl Magic is probably the best product out there if you need to rejuvenate any exterior vinyl surfaces. Best of all, you only need to use about half an ounce to treat an average car, so each 8-oz. the bottle will give you 16 treatments, each one lasting a couple of months.
The product can be used on cars, trucks, SUVs, RVs, and even outdoor vinyl signs. It is absorbed into the vinyl and needs to be left to cure for 2 to 4 hours before getting wet. It will protect against salt, rain, and dirt and help improve the look of aged or cracked surfaces, dries almost instantly, and leaves no greasy residue.
The formula’s ingredients also provide UV ray protection.
- Makes vinyl really shine
- Excellent protection against harsh environments
- Not recommended for interior surfaces
- Needs to cure for several hours before you can wash your car
8. Smartwax 10102 SmartGel
This gel can be used on almost any surface. Tires, trims, and bumpers will look great. It is weather-resistant and gives a high-gloss coating while repelling water and detergents. This makes the gel cling on through rain and washing.
The formula does not streak, drip or run, and is highly efficient. You only need a few drops to get great results. Its ingredients contain copolymers that restore faded parts and provide UV protection.
- Unlike similar products, this one has a very pleasant smell
- Glossy shine is long-lasting
- Contains no alcohol or petroleum distillates
If used excessively it can leave a sticky residue
Best Plastic Restorer Buying Guide
Maintenance is vital. Once deterioration has started, it will be quite difficult to stop. The key is to continually maintain the vinyl, rubber and plastic surfaces of your vehicle. If you coat these surfaces with a layer of protection, not only will they look great, but you also prevent degradation from happening since the UV radiation and oxygen cannot react with the polymer.
If the rubber, vinyl or plastic surfaces of the car have already started to fade it can be caused by two main factors: either wax or polish got splattered on those surfaces, or they have already begun to degrade.
If wax has been spilled and has dried onto the surface, it can stain and give a chalky appearance to most claddings and trims because the wax penetrates into the surface pores and then dries. Fortunately, there are several detailing products that can help get rid of dried wax.
If the surface has degraded, it will probably have a dull look. To solve this you can apply a temporary dressing to darken the polymer or use a dye to provide an excellent finish.
Dressings can be applied with a microfiber towel. You simply wipe the product on and remove any residue after a few minutes. Some leave a glossy finish with a wet look, others a matte one.
Dyeing a surface is a straightforward process, but is best suited for small surfaces. Trying to dye a large bumping cladding can be difficult since uniformly applying the dye can be very tricky.
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