Renew Faded BMW plastic without paint

BMW E30 M3 grill badge
Problem: Sun fades black trim to gray
Application: All models
Solution: Boiled linseed oil.
Where to buy: Amazon, Lowes, Home Depot
Cost: ~$15 in supplies.

Why does plastic fade?

Plastic car parts leave the factory vibrant, however, after years of being exposed to the elements, plastics begin to break down. The breaking down of plastics is mostly due to the harmful UV (ultraviolet) rays from the sun. Pollution in the air, extreme heat, chemicals and salts are other known reasons for the breakdown of plastics.

How do you prevent faded plastic?

Park out of the sun to avoid extreme heat and UV radiation.

Does putting a layer of car wax over the plastic help?

Putting a layer of car wax over plastic will only accelerate the fading process and is NOT recommended. Wax absorbs into the porous plastic surfaces and begins to accelerate the graying, chalky look.

What does work?

No product will bring your plastic trim back 100% to factory new condition, but there is a lesser-known effective option that is often overlooked. A 50/50 mixture mix of Boiled Linseed Oil and Paint Thinner will restore the vibrancy of the plastic as well as add a layer of protection. This solution is a great way to restore your OEM BMW trim without ruining it with paint.

What is Boiled Linseed Oil?

Linseed oil is a natural oil extracted from flaxseed. It is primarily used to preserve concrete and wood from deterioration. It is also used in many paints and wood stains. Boiled linseed oil can be found at your local hardware store in the paint section. Make sure to purchase the BOILED linseed oil, the unboiled will not be effective.

What is the purpose of mixing it with paint thinner?

The paint thinner helps improve drying time. "Japan Drier" or turpentine works as well.

Downsides of using Boiled Linseed Oil?

It is not 100% lifelong preservation, you will have to go back and restore the plastic over time. This may be every few years or every few months depending on the exposure levels of your plastics to the sun. Boiled Linseed oil is also not UV proof.

Do I need to prepare the surface before applying the paint thinner and boiled linseed oil?

Yes, of course. Like any painting process, surface preparation is the most important part to ensure a long lasting finish. Consequently, if the surface is not prepared properly, the renewing solution will not work as effectively. Clean the surface with a wax remover and / or 90%+ alcohol solution applied to a shop rag.


Always protect the surfaces you are not restoring. Tape off around the trim or remove the trim completely to ensure no overspray or runoffs.

Restoring faded plastic process:

➊ Remove the plastic trim completely or tape off the sections of restoration.
➋ Clean the surface with wax remover or 90%+ alcohol (purchase from a drug store or grocery store).
➌ Create a 50 / 50 mixture of boiled linseed oil and paint thinner.
➍ Apply the solution using a spray bottle, foam brush, or rag.
➎ Finally, allow the solution to absorb on the surface for a few seconds and then wipe away the excess.

Learn how to restore yellow / faded BMW headlights:

Restore yellow / faded headlights by clicking HERE

Learn how to restore dirty BMW steering wheel stitching:

Restore oily and greasy steering wheel stitching by clicking HERE

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