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How do I make my bumpers black again? » Car Care Advice » Archive

How do I make my bumpers black again?

Car Valeting, Detailing and Car Care Advice       September 24th, 2006     by Danny the web stig

Before answering this question, you really have to ask yourself why they are no longer black.

One reason may be that they have become stained by wax and polish, and maybe other things such as silicone plastic dressings, so the first thing to do is try cleaning them up. This subject is covered here.

The next reason may be because the plastic has become oxidized and faded. There are plenty of back-to-black type products available, and some people will even recommend using boot polish, but these never last long and can make the situation worse, it’s far better to try and bring back the origional finish. So the first stage it to find an area of bumper to practice on, possibly an area which fold under the car and isn’t easily seen. Then try really giving it a good clean to attempt removing the oxodized plastic.

…you will have to use your own discretion as to the best way to go about doing this. If you have a 20 year old Ford Escort and the bumpers look terrible, then you have to figure that you aren’t going to make them look any worse! If it’s just the black rumble strips on a coloured bumper of a much newer car, then you will probably want to take much more care about what you use. You may just want to start off with something like Cif on a damp cloth, you may want to go up to a plastic scouring pad, a Brillo pad or wire wool, in fact wire wool can work quite well on rubbers too.

You should see a significant improvement by now, but it’s probably not great - don’t worry, there is one more trick you can try. You can use a hot air gun to polish the bumpers. Again, you need to use your discretion, and considerable care, not least from a safety point of view. What you do is get the gun so it’s blowing nice and hot and then point it at the bumper at a distance, then move it closer until you start to see an effect. The heat gun melts the surface of the plastic so that the rough oxidized surface becomes smooth and glossy again. It’s not as difficult as it sounds, the tricky part is getting an even surface, so go easy and don’t let the gun get too close.
You may need to mask up or remove bits of plastic trim to do this.
In some cases this will be enough. If not, there is one more thing you can do especially with black plastic inserts on colour coordinated bumpers - you can mask them out and spray them with satin black paint. These strips are usually made from a cheap recycled plastic and they do have a tendancey to fade, giving them a coat of paint is a very good cure for this.

Another option is to replace the parts, it depends on the manufacturer, but in many cases, they are not as expensive as you might think.

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