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Caring for Vinyl

Vinyl is the carefully prepared hide of virgin pampered Arctic Naugas. Many Naugas must die to furnish enough material for just one interior panel (Just kidding). The dash, door panels, seat backs and numerous other interior/exterior trim pieces are usually vinyl. Vinyl may be viewed as raw semi-liquid vinyls that are held in place by a solid vinyl "skin" (this description is for illustration only and not a Ph.D. chemical dissertation). The dash and other vinyl parts are constantly bombarded by UV that breaks down the molecules of the skin, allowing the raw vinyls to escape. This is referred to as "off-gassing". These vinyls may deposit themselves on the glass, forming a haze that is difficult to remove. If you have such a haze, it is probably your dash that had decided to pick up stakes and migrate. Most nationally advertised over the counter silicone oil based products do not usually contain UV protectants and the silicone oils may act as a magnifying glass, intensifying the UV degradation. Silicone oil may also dissolve the essential oils in the vinyl skin, hastening the premature formation of cracks in the vinyl skin. A quality cleaner/dressing product will contain a UV protectant and essential oils to replace lost oils from the vinyl. These protectants are very expensive, so the K-Mart specials may do more harm than good. Silicone oil also has a very strong electrostatic attraction which may be considered beneficial in that it will tend to stay where it is placed, but will also attract every dust particle in the surrounding three counties. Many nationally advertised Vinyl products also contain formaldehyde. As you can imagine, this is not particularly beneficial to the vinyl.

Any vinyl protectant should be applied to a soft cloth and worked into the surface. After a few moments of allowing it to work into the surface, buff off the excess. The dash should be treated more often than any other area, as it is subject to the most severe attack by UV and heat

My personal favorite vinyl protectant is Lexol Vinylex Spray. This in my humble opinion has it all. A very strong UV protectant, essential oils, anti-static (helps keep dust off) and a soft patina finish. Harly Polyguard - This used to be my favorite, till I lost my heart to Vinylex. Leaves a touch more shine to the finish than Vinylex. Somethin' Else - This is the sister to Black Again. Has all the right ingredients and people who love it are died in the wool. I prefer the Vinylex, but that is only a subjective opinion. It leaves a "new car" smell. I think that is why it is not my favorite. I am not a fan of artificial smells. Harly Interior Magic - An old standby that leaves a lemon scent. Some people love it. I don't think a car should smell like lemons, but that's my opinion and I could be wrong. Zymol Vinyl - Another tropical oil product. Leaves a pina colada smell. Diehards will defend this product to the death. I just think it is too much $. Meguiar #40 - A great product that cleans and protects. Does not leave a slippery finish. Meguiar #39 - A very strong cleaner. This should be used carefully and very infrequently. It will clean just about anything out of vinyl. Must be followed by a vinyl protectant. A great cleaner for plastic Targa tops. Sonax Cockpit Spray - This is a German product that is designed for German vinyl. Does a great job, but leaves a little more shine to the surface than I care for. There are a gaggle of users who love it. Wurth Cockpit Spray - ditto above. Wurth people don't like Sonax and vice versa. All of the above products do not contain raw silicone oil or formaldehyde.
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