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Old 07-17-2012, 11:52 AM
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Review - 3M's "Restore Black" for plastic bumpers & trim

As may be typical with our X5s and the cosmic chi in general, there's been repair threads aplenty here lately. So, for something a little more positive.......

I've used many of the "trim restore" and "back to black" etc. products over the years. My issues with most of them have been that they are really quite topical, and after some weather and washing will not really last. And as with a lot of "lemme try this" stuff, some didn't really get to the result I wanted to begin with. Seems like this summer I've been playing car care catch-up, so I've a few things lined up I've been playing with, and this is #2 (Dr Colorstuff was 1st one I posted about a few weeks ago).

As noted in the title of the thread, this product is "bondo" Restore Black. I'd read a few things and decided to give it a shot. I don't know why this product is marketed under the "bondo" line, but it is a 3M product, and I think many know that 3M didn't just fall off the turnip truck when it comes to automotive refinishing products.

Some things that separate this from the "make my car pretty" stuff found in the waxes and cleaner aisle:

1. You will find this in the paint/bodywork section of auto parts store, not with the waxes and cleaners and stuff.
2. You gotta wear gloves to use this. Really. It contains dyes.
3. Use in well ventilated area (ok, now we're talkin')
4. Warning on the side panel that CA thinks this causes cancer (alright!!)

The product comes in a squeeze bottle with a fairly large applicator sponge. The instructions are to clean and dry the surface, apply the gel, leave it alone for 8~12 minutes or so. That's it.

I cleaned the plastic on my E53 with an APC (Purple Power) and a scrub brush. A REAL scrub brush; nothing I would use on a finished or painted surface. Then after rinsing I let it dry and applied the product.

I really is like a stiff gel. When squeezing it out onto the sponge, the "dollop" if you will stands proud with little slump. Application is easy. It smooths and spreads easily. Excellent coverage.

Some thoughts:

A. I used about 1/2 the 8oz bottle. I was not stingy at all. Probably could have (should have?) gone a bit thinner and maybe used 1/3rd.
B. This stuff really is a type of a dye. I suggest masking if you are not comfy that you can be really careful.
C. The supplied sponge is excellent for sweeping areas such as the side rockers on the E53. Not so much with nooks and crannies in the front bumper or around the proximity sensors. Civdiv99 recommends you get a few of those 98 cent painting sponges with the wedge-tip shape and little handle for the tighter areas.
D. I went through several pairs of those cheapo rubber/latex/whatever gloves, and still got product on the handle of the supplied sponge.
E. The instructions say the sponge can be cleaned with water - well, I used a small bucket and blue Dawn soap, and went 3 cleaning rounds and a number of rinsing rounds, but yeah, it cleaned up so can be used again. I would not suggest doing this in the kitchen sink, though........
F. I got some product on the painted surface. If you are IMMEDIATE, you can wipe off. The instructions are silent on this point, so you know what that means......yep! Civdiv99 let some sit on the paint & set up to see what's what for the good of all. Then I tried wiping it off. NOPE. Tried some wax & grease remover designed for paint (see my Dr Colorchip thread). NOPE. The below pictures showing the over application onto painted drivers door are after the above attempts. This is a good sign. This could be some lasting stuff here. Finally I went to some Scratch-X, which I've found is really good at removing "crap in general" but not harming underlying paint. That did the trick. It is still a bit tedious to remove carefully, so I suggest masking if able.

On to the pictures.

I plan to do the side door guards, but it was starting to get dark, so that'll be another time. I DEFINITELY will mask the paint along those door guards (lesson learned).

I don't mess around with photography - these are just iPad shots since it was handy playing music. The before shots and after shots are NOT as dramatic as when you are standing there. The results in person and when taking in the entire car are very successful.

These shots are before, after, and some detail of the "oops" smear onto the paint. I do wish I had more before and after shots, but the hopefully the product description above will be useful as well. I think the close ups of the removal of product from the paint give a good impression of the finish and sheen of the result.
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