If you own a Jeep Wrangler for a couple of years, you're bound to confront the problem of faded fender flares. They start out a nice shiny black and gradually fade to a crappy dull gray after a year or two in the sun. Products like Armor All or 303 will keep your flares shiny and black for a while, but one good rain will kill that pretty quickly. Another option is painting your flares, which unfortunately requires a lot of work and can be scraped/scratched off on the trails.
So, what else can you try? Penetrol. Penetrol is actually a "paint conditioner" thats primary purpose is to make oil-based paints spread easier. However, Penetrol also does a great job at reviving tired fender flares and restoring old fiberglass. Penetrol isn't a "permanent" fix, but it lasts much longer than Armor All, 303, etc....your flares stay black even after a few rain storms.
I've tried this product on my own Jeep, and I've been very happy with the results. I also used it to shine up the plastic trim on my wife's Saab and it worked great there as well. Below is a quick "how-to" on applying Penetrol:
- Buy Penetrol: pretty obvious start. You should be able to buy Penetrol at most hardware stores that have a good paint department. I actually found a can of it at Home Depot, but I had to ask around and dig for it. Penetrol costs about $10 per quart (a quart of this stuff goes a long way).
- Mask off painted areas: Penetrol is a strong-odored, combustible product. I was a little uneasy about getting it on my paint so I taped off small areas where I thought things could get sloppy. This was just a precaution on my part since the product isn't specifically designed for automotive applications.
- Brush on Penetrol: as you can see from the pics below, I used a foam brush and an old tuna can (keepin it real) to apply the Penetrol. The foam brush made it easy to control the amount of Penetrol being applied...you don't want it dripping off all over the place. It doesn't take much product to coat the flares.
- Wipe flares w/ cloth: after you "paint" the flares, you need to lightly wipe them down. An old t-shirt seemed to work well for me. Penetrol has an oily consistency, so wiping it down leaves a nice clean finish.
Disclaimer: I've used Penetrol on stock flares as well as Bushwacker fender flares (pictured below) and it has worked very well. I've never seen any damage to the plastic. However, I can't confirm that Penetrol is safe for ALL flares or all plastic pieces...if in doubt, test a small amount of Penetrol in a hidden location (ie. underside of flare) before covering your whole Jeep with it. Good luck.