Colour Coding Exterior Side Trim
DISCLAIMER: The information in these documents are a collection from experience (friends or myself), magazine articles, mailing lists and Internet web sites etc. So don't take these as 100% correct gospel, hence I don't take any responsibility for any of these guides.
     Difficulty Rating: 1/5 - This is soooo easy.
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Created: 26 July 2002
Revision 1

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...and after.

This is a step-by-step guide on colour coding exterior trim. Most external trim on cars are detachable and they are fixed to the side of the car with plastic clips. The trim can be removed, colour coded and smoothed for that individual or tidy look.

This guide shows how to remove the side trim strips from a Vauxhall Calibra, smooth them down to remove the mottle affect and then colour code them. There is an approved Irmscher kit that is the same but a *lot* more expensive (Irmscher kit is approximatley £40 a strip, there are 10 strips on a Calibra !!). This guide shows you how to do it for under £30.

For this particular implication, the side strip trim are held onto the car via small white plastic clips. The clips themselves are attached to the car via two small pop rivets. The plastic clips simply snap into place, and the side strip trim then snaps onto the back of the plastic clips.

However, these particular clips are only designed to be fitted on, not to be removed. So when the side strips are removed, don't be surprised by the large amount of "snapping" sounds and bits of plastic going everywhere. The plastic clips are only 89p each and are sold in bags of 10. You'll probably only need one bag to complete the job as not all the clips get broken, about 50% of them do.

Once the side strip trim is off, its then prepared. To make a good job, don't rush on the preparation. First rub down the plastic mottle affect with wet & dry. Then once complete, spray filler primer spray to fill in the imperfections. Then rub down again but with a lighter grade. Then spray 2 or 3 final coats, with each one rubbing it down with an even finer paper grade. The final coat there is no need to rub down otherwise you'll loose the shine and gloss affect of the paint.

The complete job took a week since you need a warn day (not damp, wet or windy) and very dust free room/shed and lots of patience (particular if things go wrong).

  Parts: To the top
Wet & Dry paper from 1000 to 100 grit. Paint of your choice 1 x 500ml spraycan. Filler primer spray can (1 x 350ml). Rubbing block and some water.

  Cost: To the top
1 x Can of colour, gloss spray paint (500ml). £5
  • The paint and wet & dry were brought from Halfords.
  • The part number for the Calibra side strip trim clips is 90355565 (Qty 10).
1 x Can of filler primer paint (350ml) £5
Wet & Dry pack, 1000-100 grit. £8
Vauxhall plastic trim clips. 89p ea

  General Notes: To the top

Just before you start, make sure you note the following:

  • Have a Haynes book in front of you so you know how to remove the trim on your car.
  • Its difficult to get going, put your fingers behind the strip trim, don't bend the strip, just pull out slowly.
  • Don't be surprised or alarmed by the 'snapping' sounds and the bits of plastic going everywhere. You'll replace those clips anyway.
  • Take time on preparation, rubbing down the motel affect on the trim takes a long time.
  • When spraying, insure the room you use is dry and dust free. Use a plastic sheet on the ground as this does not puff up lose dirt/dust in the air which lands on your freshly painted trim.
  • Always spray in many light coats, not quick heavy ones.
  • Wet & Dry paper is graded as 1000 = fine, 100 = rough.

Step 1 Step 2 Step 3
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Start to remove the trim first. Get your fingers behind the trim and sharp pulls off the door. With the trim off (3 pieces per side), remove any plastic clips still on the pop rivets. Any broken ones will be replaced. Start rubbing off the motel affect with 250 grit. The one on the right is rubbed down enough. Take your time on this part.

Step 4 Step 5 Step 6
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Start spraying 1 or 2 coats of filler primmer spray. This should fill up imperfections. Then rub down with 400 or 600 grit. Use water if you wish to make it easier. Spray and rub down till a smooth finish is felt. Once smooth, spray your intended colour. Here is gloss black. Rub down with 800 grit between coats. About 3 will do.

Step 7 Step 8 Step 9
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Snap on the new plastic clips onto the car first or use the old ones if left intact. Slide the trim at the top first so that it hangs off the clips. Then press down on the bottom part of the trim to 'snap' into place. Do the same job around the car and job done! Easy once you know how.


This guide only showed you how to do the side trim, not the trim on the front or rear bumpers. This is because they were coloured coded anyway when they were fitted in the body shop. It was not apparent that the original Vauxhall trim was a dark gray rather than a black. Hence the side trim was removed and colour coded to go with the rest of the car.

The strips can be lacquered if you wish, but the gloss finish is identical to the bumper trim and should last so long as it doesn't get stoned chipped. An easy modification that can be done and the same implementation can be carried out on other parts of the trim on the car. Not bad for less than £30.

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