View Full Version : Gummy Knobs & Hazy Plastic

Bob Bennett
Jun 15th, 2006, 07:01 AM
Hello. I'm an absolute newbie here. Recently I posted a question to a web site called ALLEXPERTS.COM ... what follows is my question and the detailing expert's response.

The 409 part of the answer didn't sound right with me because I'm thinking that it was some sort of wide-application cleaner that caused the situation in the first place. BUT he did mention Meguiar's Plastic Polish ... and that leads me here.

So, any sage advice for me would be welcome. Again, my concern is that I don't attempt a cure that is somehow worse than the disease. Alas, I don't think it's a viable option to return to the car wash for them to fix things as he suggested. Also, if they caused the situation in the first place they probably don't have the knowledge or wherewithal to properly fix it. Anyway, I want to try to solve this myself unless taking the car to a competent detailer really IS my best and safest option.

Thanks so much for any time you can give to address this. Bob Bennett.

I just made a private-party purchase of a very clean 1998 Volvo S70. However in a mix-up between the husband-and-wife who sold the car, he was away on business and she had the car "detailed" at a local car wash instead of going to the nearby detailing business that he would have preferred. The upshot is that almost all of the plastic switches and knobs inside the car have a kind of gummy residue that they did not have before (Seller was forthcoming about this). My guess, of course, is that whatever the car wash used it somehow reacted with plastic. I'm afraid of making matters worse by applying the wrong kind of substance to minimize the damage if that's possible. On some of the knobs there appears to be a sort of "oxidation haze" and I don't want to goof them up any further. So is there anything I can do to address this problem?

The real answer Bob is to take the car back to the car wash and have the manager deal with the problem they created. A good all purpose cleaner like 409, etc. should clean plastic just fine. If the plasic is damaged, there are plasic polishes, and even auto polishes that should shine up smooth plasic surfaces in an automobile. Ask your auto parts guy at Schucks, etc. what would be good. Meguiar's makes a plastic polish that is good. Have the people that messed up deal with it if you can. A real detail shop could clean it, and then have the seller agree to pay the bill. It shouldn't be much if they just clean up the plastic. Hope that helps ...

Jun 15th, 2006, 07:24 AM
I would stay away from the 409 for this situation, it's pretty harsh stuff.
Meguiar's has a Quik Interior Detailer that you could try, it has pretty light cleaners, but I have had good luck with it in the past.
Not sure how easy it is for you to get Meguiar's products, but if you can get some All Purpose Cleaner and dilute that 10:1, that would also be a good place to start. You could also try #39 or #40 Vinyl cleaners, which you should be able to get at NAPA.

After the plastic is clean, if it is still hazy, you could try Plastx cleaner and polish.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

Mike Phillips
Jun 15th, 2006, 07:37 AM
Hi Bob,

It 's one thing to work on a large painted panel, it's kind of easy if you know what your doing and have the right products. Compare this to small, plastic knobs, usually serrated, or with markings on them and compared to polishing the paint on a car, working on small plastic knobs, especially working on small plastic knobs with a problem, is much more difficult.

It sounds like whatever they used has penetrated into the plastic and basically begun dissolving it thus the gumminess.

At this point wiping them with a cloth wetted with water would be the first step. In the big picture, you might be better off getting new knobs from a dealership, or visiting a wrecking yard and scavenging good old knobs.

Because the plastic is gummy, or soft, I would think the chances of this now soft, gummy plastic absorbing any new chemical to be much greater and perhaps worsening the problem.

Jun 15th, 2006, 07:46 AM
I was giving info on more of the idea that they perhaps put some sort of "protectant" on everything which was gummy/sticky, but if the knobs are gummy and soft due to degradation, there isnt much you can do other than buy new knobs like Mike said.

Jun 15th, 2006, 07:50 AM
Are you able to tell if it is more of a sticky/gummy coating, or does it seem the plastic is actualy softened/melting?

Bob Bennett
Jun 15th, 2006, 08:08 AM
It seems to be a little degradation of the plastic itself. In the case of the radio volume knob, it has a "white film" appearance. It almost appears a little like when a sunburn starts to peel. Not that severe, but that's the only analogy I can think of.

The idea of scrounging for new knobs is a fine idea that I simply hadn't thought of. I live in Southern CA, so I know there are lots of pick-a-part places around and I think some of them have searchable web sites for what they have on hand. I'll certainly try that. I think the CD/cassette is factory installed which would suggest to me that I can find the knobs over a range of a couple model years. Just a guess though.

The other thing I didn't mention ... I didn't want to write a novel for my very first post ... the manager of the detailing department at Power Volvo in Irvine actually came out to look at my car. And proceeded to try one of the Perma Plate products. That certainly seemed to help the wood portions of the dash (which are not degrading, just not as bright as they can be) ... and it seemed to smooth a couple of things out for the knobs.

I've never owned a car nice enough to even think too much about this stuff, so the learning curve is a little steep for me at the moment. But I'm looking forward to learning a lot around here and I thank you all for responding. If I hit on something that does the trick, I'll post the results.

Sincerely, Bob.

Jun 15th, 2006, 08:38 AM
A lot of the stock radio and heat control knobs have a coating over the plastic to protect them and to add to the look, and it sounds like whatever they used to clean and condition the interior has eaten away at that coating.
Could you take a picture?

The Shine Shop
Jun 15th, 2006, 08:50 AM
i have a few clients with the same problem in they're volvo's
i have used #40 which seems to improve the problem,but the switch knobs have basicly been destroyed. search the net and you can find replacements reasonably priced. you should try I.P.D.
performance. they deal strictly with volvo.
good luck

Mike Phillips
Jun 15th, 2006, 09:20 AM
Originally posted by Bob Bennett
It I've never owned a car nice enough to even think too much about this stuff, so the learning curve is a little steep for me at the moment.

But I'm looking forward to learning a lot around here and I thank you all for responding.

We make it easy!

Check this link out...

List 'O Links (http://meguiarsonline.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=10990)

Also, as Mike from The Shine Shop posted, type the below words into www.google.com

I.P.D. Performance Volvo