With summer on the horizon, it’s time to start thinking about getting our Jeeps back to showroom condition again. Yes, it’s spring-cleaning time!!! The first thing you’ll want to do is wash off all that winter road salt, road grime, and mud. Let’s look at some of the recommended products and methods for cleaning and restoring your pride and joys fenders back to black!
The best way to restore your Jeep Wrangler fenders back to black is by washing them with a PH-neutral water-based fragrance-free product. Thereafter apply a UV protective product that is 100% free of grease-producing silicone oils and petroleum distillates.
There are so many plastic restoration products on the market these days, all making wonderful claims to restore your fenders back to black. Perhaps they do restore the black back in the plastic but it’s not always lasting. With all the marketing hype, It’s hard to determine which product actually works and which are just “snake oil” that overpromise and under-deliver.
Before we get into the recommended products, let’s first dispel some of the DIY home remedies you’ve seen online.
Fender Restoration Myths
There are so many YouTube videos of Jeep owners coming out, claiming to have found the ultimate, inexpensive method to restore the black plastic fenders back to black, and most importantly, keep them black. Let’s face it, not only Jeep owners, but most 4WD owners who are passionate about their vehicles are always looking for inexpensive methods to keep their mechanical gems looking and driving beautifully. These off-the-shelf products are expensive, especially if it requires you having to repeat the process regularly. Everybody loves a cheap solution to an expensive problem.
So let’s look at some of the DIY fender restoration methods:
- Wire brush and liquid soap
- All-purpose green spray and wire brush
- Pink eraser
- Blow-dryer or Heat gun and wire brush
- Peanut butter
Now, I’m not saying these methods don’t work, but they aren’t sustainable long-term. If you going to use any harsh, scented, liquid soaps on your plastic fenders, it slowly pulls the oils out, making them dull and grey over time.
Blow-dryers and heat guns do work too, however all it essentially does is draw the oils out of the plastic, giving the appearance of a nice black, restored fender, however, the process also makes the bumpers more brittle over time and more susceptible to cracking. Extended exposure to heat reduces the flexibility of the fender.
The peanut butter method had me in stitches. Any oil or silicone-based product will do the trick. There’s nothing overly special about peanut butter. The problem with all these remedies is, it fades very quickly once the fenders get wet and pull out even quicker once the vehicle is in the sun for extended periods. Besides, going through tubs of peanut butter could get expensive too, not to mention your Jeep being the favorite hangout for all the neighborhood squirrels.
Let’s look at some UV Protective sprays and determine what the difference is between a good and a great product.
Why Does Black Fenders Fade
If we understand the cause of the fender’s fading, it will help us to understand which products will work better, and which are simply a rip-off.
See, the composition of the plastic fenders is made up of polyethylene (PE) and polypropylene (PP) materials, which are considered oily plastic materials. Just like natural skin/hide, plastic, paint, leather, and almost everything that is exposed to the natural elements, all need a level of protection from the harshness of the sun, rain, and wind.
UV plastic protecting sprays
So the number one factor to look out for when purchasing a product is, does it have UV Ray protection. Like a sun-blocker spray, you apply to your skin when exposed to the sun at the beach. You want something that locks in the plastic moisture for longer and protects the plastic from the harmful UV rays to drastically slow down the fading process.
So, even if you own a new model Wrangler with black plastic fenders, it’s best to apply a UV protective solution before the fenders even begin to start fading. Preventative maintenance is always better and will extend the showroom condition of your Jeep for longer.
Let’s look at some preventative maintenance best practices.
How to Keep Jeep Wrangler Fenders Black
With any black plastic trim on your Jeep or any other 4-wheel drive, you want to ensure the fenders are kept clean from mud, grime, and acidic substances as much as possible.
Substances to keep fenders clean from can include, but are not limited to:
- Bird droppings
- Wild berries
- Road paints
- Road salt
- Tree goo/sap
All of these substances have natural acids that quickly draw out the moisture from the plastics. Don’t leave it on your vehicle for too long, unless you enjoy spending your Saturday afternoons struggling to remove unwanted stains from your Jeeps Fenders.
Cleaning your Jeep Fenders
Always, follow the manufacture’s guidelines by not using harmful chemicals to wash your Jeep. Only use warm water and mild soap. Most chemicals make the trim shine and look black, however, you’ll notice you’ll become dependent on those expensive chemicals to keep it looking nice as the natural color has been stripped away.
Also, once cleaned, try your best to avoid parking in the hot sun for extended periods at a time. Rather opt for shady parking, even if it means a few extra paces further to where you need to be.
Before polishing, you need to start with a thorough cleaning of the trim using a mild PH-balanced soap and warm water. Follow up with a wipe-down using some denatured alcohol. Once everything is clean and dry, apply a quality UV Protectant black trim restorer of your choice.
Let’s look at some recommended products for restoring and maintaining your Jeep’s fenders back to factory black.
The following products come highly recommended by Jeep owners who’ve struggled with faded fenders, trying every product on the shelf. These are the most widely-used and in order of popularity.
|1||Aerospace 303 (Most recommended)|
|2||C-Quarts DLUX Plastic and Wheel protection|
|3||Mother’s Back to Black|
|4||Turtle Wax Ice Spray Wax with Smart Shield Technology.|
|5||Meguiar’s Black Plastic Restorer|
|6||Chemical Guys Silk Shine|
Many Jeep enthusiasts swear by the Aerospace 303 and come highly recommended. Some owners claim to be using it for over 10 years and refuse to touch any other product.
What Makes A Good Fender Restoration Product?
- Most importantly, you want a UV proof product.
- The product must be suitable for rubber, plastic, vinyl, PVC, and fiberglass surfaces.
- Also, you want to apply something non-greasy, non-sticky
- You want a product that repels dust, stains and grime.
- The product must be bio-friendly and non-toxic, since when washed off these run into the sewerage systems and drains off into the environment.
- The product must be 100% free of grease-producing silicone oils and petroleum distillates.
If the product meets all the above requirements, it’s decent.
What about Jeep Wrangler Fender Wipes?
Many of the above products work great, however, they require repeated applications to maintain that nice black new showroom look. What if there was a product that you could apply once, and it would last months?
That product is called WIPE NEW.
Unlike most liquid chemicals that sometimes leave a residue, attracting dust, and requiring monthly treatments, The WIPE NEW product is designed to last much longer and even claims to stay black after 100 car-washes!!! Just make sure the vehicle is clean and grease-free before you begin the wipe down and let it sit for 24 hours before you can wash your car again. Read the instructions carefully!
Have a look:
Painted Jeep Plastic Bumpers vs Black plastic fenders
While many agree the color on the plastic fenders adds a touch of class and gives the jeep a more finished look, others are not sold and still prefer the more old-school, utilitarian, black plastic fender.
The black fenders are a real mission to maintain and keep looking factory new. If left untreated for too long, they fade and really detract from your Jeep’s appearance. Not cool!
If you don’t want to deal with this headache, rather opt for painted fenders or look at black metal aftermarket fender replacements.
Your 3rd option is to have the black covered with a protective film. They are relatively inexpensive and frankly work better than the small protective factory film. They won’t unfortunately protect the fenders 100% from scratches and nicks when off-roading.
Whichever route you decide to go, remember to try and stick to the manufacture’s guidelines by using a mild bio-friendly soap when washing your Jeep before applying any restoration products. Black fenders are also more practical for off-roading since they hide the scratches and scuffs a lot easier. Painted fenders will chip and are a lot harder to restore when damaged.