Plasti Dip to the rescue. The door handles on my 2004 black XC90 looked awful. I mean, at some point, sure they were likely nice and new and shiny and whatever. But as of two days ago they certainly weren’t. In fact, it’s among the first things I noticed when I looked at the car on the lot in Raleigh, NC. Despite my mechanic’s suggestion to not buy the XC90, he never listed the door handles as a reason. If he had listed the handles as a reason to not buy the SUV, I might have actually agreed with him and I could be driving something else and not writing this post. Perish the thought. Well, the perfect storm of time, resources and determination occurred and you can read about the results below.
Anyway, I had a can of Plasti Dip and a morning free to myself, so I figured I’d give it a whirl. After refreshing my brain about proper Plasti Dip application procedures, I headed out to the XC90 to give it a go.
Got a Can of Plasti Dip Sitting Around? Use it on Your XC90!
At first, I was going to just do one test handle. I figured, I’d do the left-rear, since that’s the handle that nobody uses. I started by taping the general area off with masking tape. Note that I didn’t do any more covering than you see in the pic as the Plasti Dip overspray comes off pretty easily. I had the time and the elbow grease to get it off – but for the time it would have taken me to find some newspaper, I think some added coverage would have been a good idea.
Before you start, be sure to read the back of the Plasti Dip can and watch a few YouTube videos on how to apply it for the best results. Also make sure your door handles are clean. I used a spray bottle made up of equal parts water and rubbing alcohol. Be sure the handles are dry, too, or the Plasti Dip won’t stick properly.
I started off with a very fine base coat. It looked almost like stippling on the door. I also pulled the door handle to get the flat side that is exposed when you open the door. Coating this part is very important as is coating the back side of the handle. I’ll explain why in a few moments. Take a look at one of the “before” pics.
Plasti Dip suggests four coats for good coverage but I ended up doing about six coats. Maybe seven. I lost count. One thing I did do was use a piece of cardboard to cut down on overspray. That really came in handy.
Be sure that each coat is light. Thick coats glob up and you don’t want a dried glob of Plasti Dip on your handle(s). Although if you did screw up in this manner, you could always rip off the Dip and start over.
When I finished, I let the Plasti Dip dry for a while. It was hot out and it felt rubbery for quite some time afterward – until the sun was off the car and the handles cooled. I’m pretty sure this is normal for the Plasti Dip as the sun softens it slightly.
Taking the tape off was easy – none of the Plasti Dip pulled or tried to come up with the tape.
Tips For Using Plasti Dip on Your XC90 Door Handles
Ok, now for some tips that will make using Plasti Dip on your door handles much easier:
- One thing that you need to know about using Plasti Dip on your XC90 door handles is that you have to get the spray all the way around the handle. This means either maneuvering the spray can to get behind the handle or spraying a small craft paintbrush to get it back there. Failure to do so will almost certainly result in an edge of the dip coming up and pulling off. I’ve noticed a spot I missed on one of my handles already. Do I care? Not really, as this was more of a test than anything else. I can go back out and re-do the handle in about 20 minutes.
- Also, put tape over the keyhole to keep it from getting gunked up. Some masking tape and the careful use of a sharp blade will do the trick.
- Plasti Dip makes a clear coat designed specifically for its Dip products. If you’re looking for a hardened, glossy surface, give it a try. I have a can, but I decided against it because I may just say “screw it” and end up painting the handles with something a little more durable.
- Don’t worry about getting full coverage on the first coat. 50-60% is great. Give it 10 minutes after the first coat
- If you don’t use a clear coat on your Plasti Dip, try using Turtle Wax Ice on your handles once they’ve fully dried. I left mine overnight and woke up to this tip on Facebook.
- Buy grip guards for your handles to make sure the Plasti Dip doesn’t peel. Check them out in this video.
PRO TIP: Apply the Turtle Wax Ice with your finger – not a sponge applicator or other material. Fabrics and sponges tend to get caught up on the Plasti Dip surface and prevent the “rubbing in” of the wax. Once the wax is on, then use a microfiber cloth to shine up the handle using very (very) little pressure. It’s more like you’re wiping up any excess here. If you notice a streak of the Ice wax on your handle that won’t come out with the cloth, put some more wax on your finger and work the area gently.
The bottom line for me is that Plasti Dip is a viable product for your worn XC90 door handles. I suspect that, without the clear coat though, it won’t last as long as other methods such as actual automotive spray paint. But for now, I’m willing to see how long it lasts and how it handles the Canadian winter.