Project VW Rabbit GTI: How to Restore Black Trim

The black accent around the rear hatch of the VW Rabbit GTI was originally done in black vinyl. We looked into replacing this vinyl but found it unavailable.

Getting it custom done at a vinyl shop was going to cost nearly $300, and we would still have to remove the old stuff and install the new vinyl–all without screwing it up. A mistake in a vinyl wrap installation generally means starting over.

Since we were going to repaint all the faded black trim, we decided to paint this part of the hatch as well. We first removed the trim and dealer sticker from the rear hatch with a small emblem pry bar and a decal eraser rubber wheel that mounts on a drill.

This same rubber eraser wheel made short work of the original vinyl found around the rear window. Next, we removed the rear window and cleaned and inspected the surrounding area. We found a few areas bubbles of surface rust; we covered them in Eastwood Rust Encapsulator.

We then cleaned up the remaining residue with Prep-All and then masked and scuffed the area. Our goal was to match the original taped area completely. Once we wiped the area off again with Pre-All, we painted the area with SEM black trim paint.

From there we removed the exterior door handles, side mirrors, wiper arms and gas cap. They were all scuffed, cleaned, masked, cleaned again and given a couple coats of black trim paint.

We then scuffed, cleaned and masked the side trim on the body and the vent window surrounds. These areas would receive the same treatment.

One little trick we need to talk about is how to get the mirror adjustment back through the interior door panel. We wrapped a piece of wire around the adjustor and fished it easily through the door panel.

Once all done, the car looked a lot better and were very pleased with the results.

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