Painting plastic trim

i want to paint my plastic fender flares on my jeep. i did a sample spot with some black auto paint but it was not compatible with the paint on the flares and seemed to be repelled by it.

will plastic paint, like i see at the auto supply stores work with this?

also there is some apparent tape type decals along the bottom of the doors and fenders that the regular paint won t adhere to either, will the plastic painjt work on this too? they appear to be plastic decals and i don t want to remove them, just pt them a flat black the same as i want the fender flares.

the flares and jeep are white now

thanks, wes

Do NOT try the Fusion paint. I made that mistake once, and the paint became soft and sticky in the sun. Fortunately, the item I painted was in plastic bag (placed there long after it cured) or it would have made a horrible mess in the car.

Auto store rattlecan pain will work as long as the surface is properly cleaned, prepped, and primed. My guess is that somebody had used a “plastic protectant” on your plastic flares at one time. They’ll need to be cleaned with a cleaner that removes everything. They sell special cleaners at the parts stores. I’ve found that citrus based cleaners also work well, as long as they’re followed by a good washing with either an auto wash soap or Ivory Liquid.

I’ve never seen a successful paint job over the manufacturer-applied stick on decals. My suggestion would be to cover them over with a flat black plastic “stripe” from the parts store and then carefully trim the edges with a razor.

It’s been told tp me by a few people that TSP is a good pre-prep cleaner. Be careful and use rubber gloves, but it will strip a wide variety of contaminants off the surface. Scuff the cleaned surface and the paint will stick.

While I haven’t tried this on plastic, I had some really stubborn brake dust/grime on the wheels of my f150. A rag and some gasoline works wonders.

The SEM bumper and trim paint at NAPA is good for bumpers and flexible plastic, but its still paint so if the other paint didn’t work, the SEM paint won’t either. You have some contamination or something on the surface if it is separating, like silicone or something. Try cleaning, wet sanding, wax remover, etc. or Prep Sol if you have it. After that you can try a few mist coats to try and get a base down if the paint is fish eyeing or separating on you.

Anybody who uses gasoline as a solvent puts their health at risk.


If you’re outside on the driveway, putting some gas on a rag and cleaning your wheels shouldn’t expose you to anymore fumes than being at a gas station pumping gas I would say. It’s not something you’re regularly doing - using it as a solvent. As a mechanic you’re probably exposed to it much more. As long as it’s well ventilated outside you’re fine. Only thing that bothers me is how badly it dries out the skin (like recently changing a pesky fuel filter for me)

And where it dries out the skin is where those toxic chemicals were absorbed into the skin.

If you tell people it’s okay to use gasoline as a solvent, then they’ll use it every time they want to clean something.

And that’s called exposure over time.


Using gasoline as a solvent every time for every application is certainly overkill and not something you want to be around constantly. BUT, when I had some really really stubborn stains on my wheels from years of brake dust and grime from the previous owner, no amount of scrubbing and soap or power washing would take it off until some gasoline on a rag took it right off and the wheels looked like new. I’ll just say it’s a last resort after you’re certain other detergents won’t remove whatever it is you’re trying to clean off. So to the general public out there, wear rubber gloves, eye protection, be outside in a well ventilated area, and don’t huff gas fumes. You have been warned!

Then you should have used this instead of gasoline.

A hell of a lot safer than gasoline!


I think that those who mentioned contamination hit it…
I think that it is wax that is not allowing the paint to stick. Like trying to paint brass without acid etching it first. Ever try to paint over a brazed area.


I agree. The only time I use gasoline as a solvent, is when I spill it. Life is too short. I would rather use elbow grease and something less toxic then most solvents. I would never make a good car body repair person; am too careful about what I breath.

well, I had the right product on hand and did not even know it!

rustoleum truck bed liner.

it adheres to the plastic, the plastic paint, the metal, the metal paint and to whatever kind of tape was used behind the old trim that used to run along the bottom of the jeep.

its flat black and textured to feel kinda like emory cloth . its perfect for what I want. both the flat black and the texruring hide any imperfecions and its adheres to and prevents rust.

it also looks really sharp now, instead of seeing the remnants of the old trim I have a nice black strip along the bottom of the doors.

I have ordered the wheel well inserts for the front. once installed they will go a long way to preventing rust issues in future.
the problem is that the new plastic fender flares I wanted are 165 bucks, each!
I m not paying that, but I need to have them becsause they bolt up with the inserts and I have to remove the old flares to install the insert.
the studs on the old flares are breaking off when I try to remove the nuts. darn it! I think they are soft stainless but I may be wrong.

I don t know if I can re drill and re use the old flares or not. the inside metal bolting frame is pretty bad on the front ones where the wheel well inserts were broken and allowing water from the tires to infiltrate them.

I ll figure something out. maybe there are some that are cheaper at an off road place. the price for the standard ones is ridiculous.

but I m happy about the truck bed coating working so well. its not a plastic type coating. it supposed to resist abrasions and inhibit rust. it feels pretty tough and is sticking great to everything


just an update… the rust o leum truck bed coating is adhering well to all surfaces and looks really good on the bottom 8 inches of doors and fenders, and on fender flares.

I m not happy with the wheel well inserts that I bought from advanced auto. they are only half as thick as the original ones and seem very flimsy. I have not installed them yet, but I guess I will just so the money isn t wasted. I ll be looking for new and better ones soon I think. I don t believe that these will last longer than a couple of years.

In case anyone is still interested. Guess I forgot before. For painting normal plastic interior trim etc., SEM makes a plastic and vinyl paint. Comes in many colors in a spray can and can even do vinyl roofs with it to freshen them up. The on line store I’ve used is Atrim out of Oklahoma City I believe. Also have factory match headliner material etc. and pretty good prices.