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  1. #1
    Regular Member Nth Degree's Avatar
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    Trim Restorer Showdown - Round 2 (Long and Pic heavy)

    This has taken longer than planned to test and write up. I know there are many who have been anxiously awaiting this write up and to all of you, I apologize for the delay.

    After my first review of some trim restorers and dressings “Trim restorer/dressing showdown - Autopia Forums - Auto Detailing & Car Care Discussion Forum" I was contacted by a few companies to review their trim restore products as well.

    I chose to include a few over the counter products, not because I expected them to compete with the others, but so that the DIYers could decide whether the cost of the other products are justified. We have all had those moments of debate whether it is worth the cost for a product that is many times that of something you could grab at the local auto parts store. There are still other products I would like to test and compare but with over $250 invested in products for testing I cannot justify purchasing any more just for testing purposes.

    Finding people with test subjects that were willing to allow for uneven looking trim for a long period of time and being accessible for me to observe proved more difficult than I anticipated. The solution was to dumpster dive at a few local body shops.

    For the durability test I used a bumper strip (unknown vehicle) that I cut into several pieces and attached to a large piece of plastic. This allows for easy mobility, even and consistent exposure to the elements and side by side comparisons.

    Each piece for the test panel was cleaned with Optimum Power Clean, then with Pre Wow!, followed by a dawn wash and finally an IPA wipe. If that isn’t enough to properly clean and prepare plastic trim for a product then the product is not user friendly enough for me to even consider using. The bottom 1 inch of each piece was taped off to provide a strip of untreated plastic. I also kept a small piece that was untreated as a control piece that could be held next to each treated piece. Unfortunately the piece was not heavily faded but since this particular test was for durability it shouldn’t matter. (Scroll down for the effectiveness testing) Since the test pieces were small I used triangle make-up applicator sponges to apply. Since some products had varying recommendations for time before being exposed to the elements I left the panel in the garage for a full week after application. Any specific application details included below. I shot a video of the application process should anyone question the application method affecting the results. ,

    *I am not a great photographer and many of these were taken in haste just for documentation purposes. Sometimes the photos may not appear exactly as my description implies. In most cases this is due to lighting and angles.

    Turtle Wax Trim Restorer:

    This was a last minute addition since my neighbor happened to have it in his garage. Cost is roughly $10 for 10 oz. It is a clear, thin liquid and has a mild, unidentified fruit smell (possibly apple or pineapple. Can’t tell with my cold). Allow to penetrate for 5-10 minutes, then wipe off excess. It goes on quite oily; feels like rubbing baby oil on the trim. The initial look is very oily as well.

    Mother’s Back to Black:

    This had been taking up space on the shelf in my garage for some time. Cost is roughly $7 for 8 oz. A white lotion-like consistency that has a mild chemical odor; slightly thinner than shampoo. Allow to dry then buff off excess. Darkens the trim with a low sheen. Requires significantly more product to cover an area than any other product tested. On larger sections it produced uneven results.

    Meguiar’s Ultimate Black Plastic Restorer:

    Another product that has been on my shelf for a long time. Cost is roughly $10 for 12 oz. A cream colored lotion with a tropical, sun tan lotion smell. Wipe on an remove excess. Easy to apply and provides a dark, rich but not overly greasy look.

    Poorboys World Trim Restorer:

    I decided to add this to an order just to add to the test. Cost is roughly $18 for 16 oz. A clear, very thin liquid with a very distinct coconut/tanning oil smell. Wipe on and allow to dry as long as possible before buffing off excess. Spreads very easy and leaves a oily look when applied.

    Ultima Tire & Trim Guard Plus:

    This has been my favorite dressing for trim. Cost is roughly $32 for 12 oz. A little goes a very long way so the initial look of being costly is deceptive. A clear liquid with a mild solvent smell. Instructions don’t say it but I have found it best to allow to penetrate for 10-15 minutes, then wipe off excess Spreads very easy and leaves a moderately glossy look but not greasy to the touch once dried.

    Solution Finish: This was provided to me by the Chris West for testing purposes.

    Cost is roughly $40 for 12 oz. I had read many forum posts that question this products viability on colored trim other than black. It is a liquid consistency that is black in color; almost looks like fountain pen ink when in the bottle. I tested on a light gray interior panel and had no issue with the black changing the color; just giving the low sheen, dressed look. I see no reason to believe it would not produce the same results if used on colored plastics. When spread on a lighter color plastic the black color makes it look uneven. Larger areas can seem to not be getting even coverage at first. Allow to penetrate 1-2 minutes then wipe off the excess. The unevenness goes away leaving a rich, natural look. Wear gloves as it will absorb into skin and stain. Likewise, if it gets on paint wipe off immediately. Once dried it can be difficult to remove. Taping around the trim made it much quicker and easier to work to the edges.

    Black Wow!: This was purchased for the first test.

    Cost as purchased was roughly $45 for the 4 oz. kit that includes the Pre Wow that is the recommended cleaning companion. A 2 oz kit is roughly $35 and a 2 oz bottle without the Pre Wow can be gotten for about $16. It is a pinkish-orange gel with a nice watermelon smell. A little goes a long way. This test piece was taped across the middle to test the difference between dwell times. After my first test Richard Lin, the maker of Black Wow!, suggested I did not allow the product to penetrate long enough which likely contributed to the poor performance. The top half of the test piece was allowed to dwell for about an hour before removing the excess while the lower half was left for about 4 days. On larger test panels it was a little more difficult to spread and produced thicker areas that looked greasy. Once the excess was removed the look was still glossy but even.

    Black Wow Pro: A small sample of this product was sent for testing after the first test. It was sent prior to its introduction at SEMA. It is just now beginning to be distributed to retailers.

    Cost is roughly $70 for 16 oz. At first Black Wow Pro looks very similar to Black Wow! It has a color more of a true orange and has the same pleasant, watermelon smell. The consistency is much thinner; more of a liquid than a gel. It is designed to absorb much faster into the plastic and eliminate some of the issues experienced with Black Wow!, thus being more user friendly. That it is. I found it to spread easier, absorb quicker and leave a very natural, rich, non-greasy look. I have heard of others using an air brush for applying it which can be a huge advantage when applying to intricate areas like plastic grill inserts and vent covers.

    We now get into the coatings: these products bond to the surface rather than absorbing into the plastic.

    GTechniq C4 Permanent Trim Restorer: A carry over from the first test.

    Cost is roughly $65 for 1 oz. A ½ oz. option is available for ~$40. It is a clear liquid. It looks like a small vial of water. The smell is a floral-chemical smell that I can’t identify but hints of Absenthe. Don’t let the price scare you. I managed to coat all the plastic on an Avalanche, including the bed cover panels, with about ¾ oz. Apply evenly and immediately remove any excess with a micro fiber towel. The look is very natural and effective at restoring the look of faded trim.

    Carmor Fade to New: This was provided for testing purposes.

    I had not heard of the product prior to being contacted and asked if I would be interested in testing it. Cost is roughly $35 for 1 oz. It is also a clear liquid that works by bonding to the surface of the plastic in a similar way to the GTechniq. The smell is similar to acetone/nail polish remover and the consistency is slightly thicker than the GTechniq. Side by side products look very similar with Carmor having a slightly glossier look. Being slightly thicker, Carmor is a little slower to spread, particularly on larger sections. Once applied avoid contact for 2 hours to avoid smudging. It is advised to not clean the plastic with strong cleaners for 1 week after application. Avoid water for 24 hours to avoid spotting or trails. Wipe gently as soon as possible if water does come in contact during that time.

    Forever Black: Another carry over from the first test.

    Cost is roughly $13 for 6 oz. A black, liquid dye, *not for use on any other color. I have used this product on my own vehicles in the past and found it to be quite effective. I have learned that applying a second coat after the first has been allowed to dry for ~15 minutes will greatly enhance coverage and look. It is difficult to get perfectly even coverage so it can look splotchy for a while after application. I have found that to even out over time. Additional coats may reduce that.

    ValuGard ETR III: Another carry over from the first test.

    Cost is roughly $80 for the kit (3 parts, 4 oz. each). The look is similar to a smooth, polished, black plastic, even on texture, that has a slight purplish tint. Difficult to describe. This product did not perform well in the first test. The first part of the kit is a cleaner to be applied with a towel. Allow to dry completely, then apply the Color Guard, allow to dry completely, then apply the UV Guard, allow to dry completely. For optimal durability it is recommended to apply a second coat of the UV Guard. The UV Guard has a blue tint to it when applied that becomes clear when dry. I suspect that is what gives the slightly blue/purple tint to the final look. The kit is specifically for black but it is my understanding that it is possible to get other colors, though I found nothing about that on the website. The time to apply to just a small section was extensive. The combination of applying multiple coats, then waiting for each to dry makes it a little tedious, particularly when doing intricate parts like bumper inserts or mirror housings. This would likely be less of an issue when doing an entire vehicle as the starting point should be dry by the time you make it around the vehicle. Do not expose to water for at least 24 hours.

    After 12 days and a couple light rains (~1 week of exposure) I had an opportunity to observe the water beading of the products. Beading is, by no means, a conclusive test of effectiveness or durability, particularly because not all the products are hydrophobic but for some it can provide a reference if there is a change. For many you can see the difference in the beading on the treated and untreated sections. (Scroll down for a better demonstration of the hydrophobic qualities of each product.)

  2. #2
    Regular Member Nth Degree's Avatar
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    Re: Trim Restorer Showdown - Round 2 (Long and Pic heavy)

    Two days later, at the 2 week mark I decided to check on the products. The angle of the sun was very different than the initial shots which made some of them look more faded than they appeared in person.

    Looking strong.

    Barely can tell it was applied.

    Still visible but drastically faded.

    Another that is almost completely obliterated.

    Somewhat disappointing considering it is one of my favorite dressings. I did discover during the first test that UTTG did have significant fading in the first few days but then held strong from there for a while. This photo looks more faded than it did in person.

    Holding Strong.

    When I first saw this photo I thought there were areas cleaned off by water drops. Upon analyzing the initial photo there are some minor irregularities in the plastic that caused that look. The light just amplified it here.

    This was a surprise. The photo does make it look as though it is completely gone. It is still present but heavily faded. More on this to come.



    Apologies for the shadow. Strong.


    The one month mark:

    No washes have been done and only 3 weeks of exposure, though several light-moderate rains.

    Beading has become less uniform.

    Beading has become less uniform but the strip of untreated indicates there is more present than was is visible.

    Never did bead well… no change.

    Significant loss of beading.

    Still very strong beading.

    Never beaded… no change.

    The first indication of a difference between the dwell times of the Black Wow! Beading on the top (~2 hours dwell) is slipping while beading on the lower (~4 days dwell) is still tight.

    Appears to be non-existent.

    Still strong.

    Still strong.

    Never great beading… no change.

    Never great beading… no change.

  3. #3
    Regular Member Nth Degree's Avatar
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    Re: Trim Restorer Showdown - Round 2 (Long and Pic heavy)

    Because different plastics can cause different results I took advantage of any opportunity to test. This is a friend’s badly neglected BMW.

    I was told the trim was gray and not black so I did not take the Forever Black and ETR III kit along for this test.

    This is how the ones across the back looked after application.

    5 Weeks later: (cell phone photos, pardon the color filter I did not realize was enabled for the first shots.)

    And 9 weeks:

    * I spoke with Richard Lin of Black Wow! about the poor performance of the Black Wow Pro in the durability testing. I know that the results I have seen in this testing is not typical. There are people who are getting 6 months and more from Black Wow Pro. It is possible that certain plastics are less likely to absorb the product for a variety of reasons, leaving it to just sit on top until being washed away. We have discussed a variety of possibilities and I will continue to test and try to isolate the issue.

  4. #4
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    Re: Trim Restorer Showdown - Round 2 (Long and Pic heavy)

    Of course, durability isn’t the only aspect to consider for a trim restorer.

    The striping issue with some plastic bumpers as they fade is a real eyesore. Here’s another of my body shop finds.

    Certain angles of light indicate these two have not completely eliminated the striping, though they are significantly less obvious.

    Turtle Wax covered it well, as did the Mother’s. Unfortunately the uneven coverage of the Mother’s causes it to not look much better.

    Meguiar’s also did a good job of eliminating the striping.

    Both Solution Finish and Black Wow Pro did reasonably well, but still not completely gone in all lights and angles.

    Black Wow! did a rather good job.

    UTTG and Poorboy’s failed pretty bad in this test.

    Forever Black covered the striping well, as would be expected. Here is a good example of the unevenness that I have repeatedly experienced.

    The ETR III kit also completely covered.

    Here is a video showing the hydrophobic nature of each product.

    Water repellency isn’t always desirable. Even if a product does not remain oily it can become a slipping hazard when applied to steps or anywhere else a person is likely to step. I had a customer report how slippery his running boards on his Avalanche were in the rain after they had been coated with GTechniq C4. This is an area where Solution Finish can be a better choice.

    The next step was to test against strong cleaners. Using Optimum Power Clean at 3:1 on a microfiber towel I rubbed a small spot in the lower center of each section.

    GTechniq and Carmor were both unfazed. Turtle Wax Trim Restorer didn’t stand a chance. Mother’s and Meguiar’s didn’t do much better.

    Solution Finish, Black Wow Pro and Forever Black were barely affected. (Significant rubbing would likely remove them) Ultima Tire & Trim Guard was affected a little more. Black Wow! and Poorboy’s were both easily removed. Photos were omitted since they did not show well in the flat light.

    While I have not experienced the same bonding/pealing issues I did in the first test with the ValuGard ETR III kit, was easily removed by a little OPC.

    As the most expensive of all the trim restoring products tested I find it highly disappointing. That combined with the laborious and time consuming process to apply make it the most disappointing of the products.

    I have other tests underway and will report those results as they become available.

    I will continue observing the durability test panel and report updates. Some of the products have an expected durability of well over a year. I will continue to observe the remaining products for up to 2 years or until they are effectively degraded to be considered no longer viable.

  5. #5
    Super Member Bunky's Avatar
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    Re: Trim Restorer Showdown - Round 2 (Long and Pic heavy)

    Awesome review !

    So Chris what are your favorites?
    The Need to Bead

  6. #6
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    Very nice review. I wish you would've included duragloss 271 in the review, it's an outstanding product.
    Did you put that cap on the UTTG because it leaks? Mine leaks bad.

  7. #7
    Super Member Sizzle Chest's Avatar
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    Re: Trim Restorer Showdown - Round 2 (Long and Pic heavy)

    Excellent review! Epic! Thank you so much for putting in the time for this evaluation/testing and for posting it up! You rock!
    Scott Harle

  8. #8
    Super Member SYMAWD's Avatar
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    Re: Trim Restorer Showdown - Round 2 (Long and Pic heavy)

    Nice review. The turtle wax did surprisingly well.

  9. #9
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    Re: Trim Restorer Showdown - Round 2 (Long and Pic heavy)

    Excellent review!

    I was also impressed with the Turtle wax ?

  10. #10
    Super Member HateSwirls's Avatar
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    Re: Trim Restorer Showdown - Round 2 (Long and Pic heavy)

    Thank you for one of the best write ups I've seen in awhile.
    Epic as one said,Epic.
    Very well done, I can imangine how much time and effort went into your Epic review

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