How to Restore Interior Plastic Trim in Your Car?

The interior of a car plays a significant role in the driving experience and comfort. But, over time, the vehicle's plastic trim can start showing signs of wear and tear. It can lose its luster and appeal. Restoring the plastic trim not only enhances the aesthetics. But it also helps to maintain the value of your car.

This guide will explore expert tips and techniques to restore car interior. We will give it a fresh and rejuvenated look. We will delve into the common causes of plastic trim deterioration.

By following these expert tips, you can transform your car's worn-out plastic trim into a visually appealing and well-maintained interior, enhancing your driving experience and preserving the beauty of your vehicle for years to come.

What Is Interior Plastic Trim?

Before getting to interior plastic restoration, let's find out what it is. Interior plastic trim refers to the various panels, moldings, and components. They're made of plastic found inside a car's cabin. It encompasses elements such as:

  • Dashboard panels;
  • Door panels;
  • Center console;
  • Pillar trims etc.

These plastic trim pieces not only provide a polished and finished look to the interior.

The interior plastic restoration is essential for several reasons:

  • Saving the car's aesthetic appeal;
  • Maintaining the value of the vehicle;
  • Additionally, improving the driving experience.

Car manufacturers use various types of plastic trim materials in their vehicles. Some common types include:

  • Polypropylene (PP);
  • Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS);
  • Polyurethane (PU);
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

These materials vary in durability, flexibility, and resistance to fading and aging. So, consider it when restoring the car interior.

Signs of Car Plastic Trim Deterioration

signs of car interior trim detoriation

Car plastic trim is prone to deterioration over time due to various factors. Here are some common signs to look out for:

  • Fading. One of the most evident signs of deterioration is color fading. Continuous exposure to sunlight can cause the material to lose its original vibrancy. And it becomes dull or discolored.
  • Cracking or Peeling. Aging decorations may develop cracks or begin to peel. It's especially in areas exposed to heat or subjected to frequent use. These imperfections can significantly impact the appearance and integrity of the decoration.
  • Scratches and Scuffs. Regular use and contact with objects can lead to scratches and scuffs on material. These marks can accumulate over time. They give the trim a worn-out and neglected appearance.

Unrestored the interior of a car can have several negative effects:

  • Aesthetic Deterioration. Worn-out plastic trim diminishes the aesthetic appeal of the car's interior. It can make the cabin look aged, poorly maintained, and visually unappealing.
  • Reduced Resale Value. Neglected plastic trim can negatively impact the resale value of a vehicle. Potential buyers are more likely to be deterred by a worn-out interior. It results in decreased desirability and lower market value.
  • Further Damage. If left untreated, deteriorating plastic trim can worsen over time. Cracks and peeling can expand, and fading can become more pronounced. This can lead to more extensive damage and potentially higher repair costs.

Pre-Restoration Preparation

Before starting the interior plastic restoration process, it's important to engage in thorough pre-restoration preparation. This involves:

  • Gathering the necessary tools and materials;
  • Ensuring that the decoration is properly cleaned.

Here's a closer look at these crucial steps.

Gathering the Necessary Tools and Materials

To effectively restore a car interior , you will need specific tools and materials. This typically includes:

  • Microfiber cloth;
  • A soft brush or toothbrush;
  • Plastic trim cleaner;
  • Plastic trim restorer or conditioner;
  • Protective gloves;
  • A heat gun or hair dryer for more advanced techniques.

It's important to gather all these items. Do it before you begin to ensure a smooth and uninterrupted process.

Cleaning the Plastic Trim

Properly cleaning the decoration is an essential step in the interior plastic pre-restoration process. Start by removing loose dirt, dust, or debris from the trim using a soft brush or toothbrush. Next, apply a suitable cleaner to the surface. Use a microfiber cloth to scrub and clean the decoration gently. And pay attention to any stubborn stains or grime. Rinse off the cleaner with water and dry the finishing thoroughly.

Restoring Faded Plastic Trim

restoring faded car plastic trim

Here are two effective techniques for restoring color to the faded interior of a car:

  1. Assessing the Level of Fading. Before starting the restoration process, assess the level of fading. This will help you determine the appropriate restoration method and products to use. Mild fading may only need cleaning and conditioning. At the same time, severe fading may need more advanced techniques.
  2. Applying Heat Treatment to Restore Color. One effective method to restore color to faded car interior plastic trim is heat treatment. This technique uses a heat gun or hairdryer to warm the surface gently. The heat helps to restore the original color by revitalizing the pigments in the plastic. Use the heat source carefully. And maintain a safe distance to avoid damaging or causing discoloration.

Start by applying low heat to a small section of the faded material. And observe the color restoration. If the results are satisfactory, continue working on the rest of the surface. Remember to keep the heat source moving. It's to prevent overheating or melting the plastic.

Repairing Scratched or Scuffed Trim

Scratches and scuffs are common issues. They can detract from the appearance of decoration in a car's interior. Fortunately, there are techniques available to restore car interior. And you can restore the original smoothness and finish. Here's how to effectively address scratched or scuffed material:

  1. Identifying Scratches and Scuffs. Begin by closely inspecting the car finishing to identify any scratches or scuffs. Scratches are typically shallow marks on the surface. At the same time, scuffs are superficial abrasions that may not penetrate the plastic deeply. Understanding the extent of the damage will help determine the appropriate repair method.
  2. Using Appropriate Techniques to Repair Them. You can restore interior plastic trim from minor issues. For this, use a specialized cleaner and a soft cloth or sponge. It's to clean the affected area gently. This may help to reduce the appearance of the imperfections.

TIP! If the scratches or scuffs are more severe, you may need to use extra techniques. One option is to use a restoration product. It's specifically designed to fill and conceal scratches. These products often come in the form of pens or compounds. They can be applied to the damaged area and buffed to blend with the surrounding trim.

Dealing with Cracked or Broken Trim

car interior plastic trim

Cracked or broken decoration is a common issue. It can significantly impact the appearance and functionality of a car's interior. Restoring the cracked or broken interior of a car is essential. It's to maintain the aesthetics and integrity of the interior.

This block will explore effective methods for dealing with cracked or broken finishing in your car. We will discuss the importance of identifying the extent and location of the damage. And we will assess whether you can repair the decoration or you need to replace it. Furthermore, we will delve into various repair techniques.

Understanding how to deal with cracked or broken material properly will restore the visual appeal of your car's interior and ensure its functionality and longevity.

Restoring Texture and Shine

Over time, the texture and shine of car decor can become dull or worn out. It diminishes the appearance of a car's interior. Restoring the texture and shine of interior plastic trim is crucial. It's to revive its original luster and enhance the cabin's aesthetics.

Here are some effective methods for restoring texture and shine to car decor:

  • Restoring a Matte or Glossy Finish. The decor can have either a matte or glossy finish. It depends on the manufacturer and model. To restore a matte one, use products designed for matte surfaces. They include matte cleaners and conditioners.
  • For glossy finishes, use a restorer or polish. It can help restore the shine of the car interior plastic trim and bring back the lustrous appearance. These products contain ingredients that enhance the reflective properties of the plastic. And they protect it from further damage.
  • Applying Appropriate Products for Desired Results. When choosing products for restoring texture, consider the type of plastic trim. Read product labels carefully. It's to ensure compatibility with the material. Also, follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Protecting Restored Trim

taking care of restored car interior trim

Here are two essential steps for protecting restored car interior:

  1. Using Protective Coatings. Apply a protective coating to the restored trim. It can provide an extra layer of defense against future damage. There are various trim-specific protective coatings available in the market. They are plastic trim sealants or UV protectants.
  2. Regular Maintenance Tips. Regular maintenance practices are key to preventing future damage to the restored trim.

Here are some tips for restoring the car interior:

  • Avoid using abrasive cleaners or harsh chemicals on the trim. Stick to gentle cleaners specifically formulated for plastic trim;
  • Clean the trim regularly using a microfiber cloth or a soft brush to remove dust, dirt, and grime;
  • Park your car in shaded areas or use windshield shades to cut UV exposure to the interior;
  • Apply a plastic trim conditioner or restorer periodically. It's to keep the decor hydrated and protected.

Enhancing Trim with Interior Dressings

Interior dressings are a great way to enhance the appearance of car decor in the interior. It gives it a polished and refined look. These products are specifically designed to rejuvenate and protect the decor. It provides a long-lasting shine.

Here are two important aspects to consider when using interior dressings while restoring interior of a car:

  • Choosing the Right Interior Dressing Products. Look for products that are specifically formulated for use on plastic decor. Consider whether you prefer a matte or glossy finish. And choose a dressing accordingly. 
  • Applying Dressings to Achieve a Polished Look. Before applying the car interior dressing, ensure the decor is clean and dry. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for application techniques. And use a microfiber cloth or applicator pad to spread the dressing onto the trim evenly.

Restoring Interior Trim on a Budget

Here are some options to consider when restoring car interior:

  • Cleaning and Conditioning. A simple yet effective way is through thorough cleaning and conditioning. Invest in a good quality plastic trim cleaner. And use a conditioner that is affordable and suitable for your trim material.
  • DIY Restoration Solutions. Several DIY techniques help restore interior trim without spending a lot of money. Using heat treatment with a hairdryer can help reduce the appearance of scratches. And it restores color to faded trim. Another option is using household items. They are baking soda or vinegar mixed with water.
  • Replacing Individual Pieces. For this, consider replacing damaged individual pieces instead of the entire decor. Look for affordable aftermarket options or explore salvage yards for cost-effective replacements.
  • Budget-Friendly Products. Research different brands. Read customer reviews and compare prices to find the best options within your budget.


Restoring interior plastic trim is a great way to make it look and work better. Whether your trim is faded, scratched, scuffed, or cracked, you can bring it back to life! So don't wait; get started and enjoy the satisfaction of seeing your car's interior come back to life!


How to restore the car interior?

Start by assessing the specific areas that need restoration, such as plastic trim. Clean the surfaces thoroughly. Remove any dirt or debris, and repair any scratches or scuffs. Apply appropriate restoration products. They're cleaners, conditioners, or restorers, based on the type of trim. Follow the instructions provided by the product manufacturer for the best results.

How often should I restore the plastic trim in my car?

As a general guideline, cleaning and conditioning the trim regularly is recommended. But, full restoration may be required less frequently. It's typically every few months to a year, depending on the level of wear and tear.

Can I restore severely damaged or discolored trim without replacement?

In some cases, severely damaged or discolored trim may need replacement. Restoration techniques may not be enough if the damage is extensive or the color has faded.