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Home > Auto Detailing Guide > Trim & Molding Care

Trim & Molding Care
Click to enlargeTrim & Molding Care

The very word "Trim" is often associated with a general state of neatness. For instance, we may describe something as being trim and proper or we may go to the barber for a trim. This association has been carried over to the automotive world, and the trim of any vehicle is the final statement in overall presentation. Most trim and molding is made of vinyl or rubber, and can dry out or crack without simple maintenance. Instead of replacing your moldings or allowing them to fray at the edges, look below to unveil the secrets of proper trim care.

Schedule a Routine

Although plastics are rugged by design, they are still susceptible to fading. High heat and humidity can contribute to the premature cracking and peeling of your moldings. If you notice discoloration or spots in the plastic, you can attribute it to surface contaminants or mildew. Though most drivers can expect to clean their molding once every two months to keep them safe, the intense Floridian climate here at Superior has most of us scrambling to protect our moldings monthly. Location notwithstanding, you should add a trim care session to one of your weekly car washings to keep them safe from the irritating damage that can befall them.

Thick or Coarse Plastic

When dealing with trim of a dense nature, it is best to take advantage of the stiff bristles provided by your favorite automotive brush. While these brushes can damage some smoother plastics, they are perfect for removing contaminants from textured trim. If you’re a wax user, I applaud you, but I’ll bet you don’t know that the trim is a great place for excess wax to hide. Allowing wax or other pollutants to set for an extended period of time can discolor most plastics. Use quality all purpose cleaner to remove wax stains from plastic and rubber exterior trim. This type of plastic isn’t just limited to your trim – be sure to check your car door handle, windshield wiper cowls and mirrors for errant wax. To avoid this problem altogether, use a quality wax that leaves no residue, like Pinnacle Signature Series II.

Soft Plastics and Rubbers

The resilience of rubber makes it a perfect candidate for jobs that require flexibility. Wiper blades, doorjambs and other areas need to stay as supple as possible to ensure their functionality. A dried out wiper blade does not do its job properly, and dried out weather stripping could create a rattling noise. If you are the type of person who enjoys the silent away-from-the-world tranquility provided by a car, you should do well to maintain the rubber gaskets found in automotive doors because they provide ample sound dampening when maintained properly. Wurth Rubber Care Gel Stick is an excellent solution for all your rubber woes, and is applied easily. Pinnacle Vinyl & Rubber Protectant is another noteworthy choice that should not be overlooked.

Applying Protectants

Products that are advertised as ‘Protectants’ are engineered to prevent a problem from happening. The particular problem you want to avoid is the unattractive cracking or discoloring of your trim, which can cost you hundreds of dollars to replace. You’ll find that few dealers even replace moldings at all. Therefore, it’s crucial that you take care of what you have, because some things just can’t be replaced.

A great trim care protectant will defend your molding from UV degradation, without leaving behind a cheap, greasy finish. Pinnacle Vinyl & Rubber Protectant goes on even and leaves the trim looking satiny and smooth to the touch. To ensure a good application, always use Cobra Microfiber Applicator Pads to apply your trim coating.

Don’t forget to apply protectant to all of your moldings – soft and hard. Protectant will be good for any plastic or rubber you can find on your vehicle, and will leave behind a beautiful ebony sheen. Once you have applied a coat of protectant, it is important to remind yourself to wipe the rubber clean before re-applying. We do this because protectants cure into the plastic and should be removed periodically before reapplying. If you do not, it can result in discoloration as a result of the old and new layer sitting on top of each other. Wipe away the old layers with Detailer's Pro Series Cleanse-All Exterior Cleaner and then put on the newest coat of protectant or dressing.


An automobile’s true color is displayed best when it is contrasted by the blackness of properly maintained trim. If your vehicle’s trim is faded to gray, you can use a product called Forever Black to dye the discolored spots back to a dark, shiny depth matching that of factory-fresh rubber. It should be noted that this product also enhances your rubber further with UV protectants as well, to help it get through those long, sunny days. If you prefer a less glossy finish, allow the dye to settle for ten minutes and then wipe it away with a detailing cloth. Allow the dye to set for a full 20 minutes. Your trim should be looking better than ever and will stay that way longer thanks to the built-in UV protection.

Qty Two Way Mini Detailing Brush, dust brush, interior detail brushTwo Way Mini Detailing Brush - B-296
Two types of bristles for all types of dust! Many detailing kits come with several

Our price: $4.95
Qty Signature Series II is Pinnacle’s latest addition to its premier family of car care products. Signature Series II has a buttery texture and inviting aroma that make it a pleasure to apply.Pinnacle Signature Series II Carnauba Wax - PIN-310
More of what you want in a car wax! Pinnacle Signature Series II Carnauba

Our price: $59.95
Qty Pinnacle Vinyl & Rubber Protectant beautifies and protects your car’s dash, vinyl seats, and door facings against premature aging. PINNACLE VINYL & RUBBER PROTECTANT is the natural alternative to oily,plastic-looking dressings.Pinnacle Vinyl & Rubber Protectant - PIN-360
Satiny protection for your vehicle's interior. Your car’s windows focus heat and

Our price: $27.95
Qty Cobra Microfiber Applicator PadsCobra Microfiber Applicator Pads - MP-100
The perfect applicator pad combines gentle cleaning with even product application.

Our price: $3.95
Qty Detailer's Pro Series Cleanse-All Exterior Cleaner works as a bug & tar remover, a wheel cleaner, a tire cleaner, an engine degreaser, a convertible top cleaner, a vinyl & plastic cleaner, and chrome cleaner. DP Cleanse-All Exterior Cleaner can be used full strength or diluted to suit your cleaning task.Detailer's Cleanse-All Exterior Cleaner - DP-320

Cleans virtually every exterior surface! The exterior of your vehicle is

Our price: $19.95
Qty Forever Black restores a dark, black, finish on sun-faded bumpers and body moldings.  Unlike a cosmetic dressing that can wash off, Forever Black is a permanent dye.Forever Black Bumper & Trim Dye Kit - FBK-010
Restore the deep black luster to all of your vehicle’s dark trim! Forever

Our price: $15.95, 2/$29.95
Qty 303 Aerospace Protectant 16oz303 Aerospace Protectant 16oz - 303-30340
303 Aerospace Protectant is the best in the industry at protecting your UV sensitive materials

Our price: $12.95, 12/$125.00
Qty Black Again plastic and trim restorer and protectantBlack Again - BA-4008
Clean, restore, and protect all colors of exterior trim! Professional detailers used

Our price: $9.95

Related Items In This Category
Properly Wash & Dry | Foamaster Foam Wash Gun Free Bonus! | Natural Wax vs. Sealants | Car Wax Application Guide | Klasse Application Guide: All-In-One & High Gloss Sealant Glaze | Trim & Molding Care | Glass Cleaning Tips | Tire & Wheel Detailing How To | Cockpit Care | Leather Care | Convertible Top Maintenance | Detailing Clay Guide | Circular Polishing Guide: Swirl & Scratch Removal | Dual Action Polishing Guide: Swirl & Scratch Removal | Foam Pad Cleaning | Microfiber Products Care

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