Restoring a faded Vinyl interior: Answer to a newsgroup question at:

By Ray Fichthorn- owner Ray-Lin Restoration and Body Shop- e-mail

I've had good success with the current Vinyl Dyes available from SEM, and MarHyde. They are excellent products- wear well, and can be mixed to match. Get the Pint or Quart cans and a conventional spray gun. A small $29 "Touch-up Gun" is all you need.   DO NOT use the "spraycan" stuff for seats- it doesn't wear nearly as well. and the color selection is limited. It's fine for door panels, dash, and other non-wear locations... but not too good for the seating area.

The most important thing is surface prep:
For VINYL (not leather): Clean the seats first with regular soapy water. Then switch to a mild "caustic" solution- such as Draino- (use rubber gloves!)-This will remove food stuffs (spilled soda, french fry goobers, candy) and protiens from the seats. Then dry with a towel and go over the seats TWICE with a "pre-cleano" that is used to wipe down autos and trucks before painting- this will remove "most" of the oils, Armor-all, and other seat conditioners. The last step is to take a rag SOAKED with Laquer thinner and just "wipe" it over the seats- DO NOT SCRUB just get the vinyl "WET". CAUTION: Laquer Thinner Vapors are VERY flammable- please do not smoke, or do this near open flames or heat sources- apply in a well ventilated area!! This will prep (soften) the surface of the vinyl for good adhesion. Let the laquer thinner dry for 30 minutes- you can place a fan blowing on the seats to speed up the process. Spray with the Vinyl Dye...using several very LIGHT coats until the color is even. Then spray a "Wet" coat on to bind the coats together, and remove any drylines. Wait at least overnight before installation.

These materials are available at most Auto Parts stores that carry auto paint. They can match your original colors.