Can’t Stand The Sight Of All That Chrome On Your Tacoma? Fear Not, Plasti-Dip Is The Reversible And Easy Option For Your 3rd Gen Tacoma!
Basically, most of the 3rd Gen Tacomas come with a bunch of chrome accents that very few people these days actually want. While I’m sure there is still quite a market for chrome accents, Toyota could benefit much more by simply offering a choice to opt-out of the chrome.
The cheapest and easiest way to rid your truck of that pesky chrome is by simply painting it. However, going the spray paint route can get messy and is typically permanent. In my opinion, the best way to get rid of the chrome on your truck is by Plasti-Dipping it.
Plasti-Dip is a multipurpose rubber coating that is applied similarly to spray paint. The best part? If properly applied, it peels right off!
Though Plasti-Dip has only recently become popular in the automotive world, it has been around since 1972. The original Plasti-Dip was used to add a rubber coating to the handle of metal tools. The “dip” part of Plasti-Dip exists because you would literally DIP your tool handle into a can of Plasti-Dip and let it dry to reveal a perfect rubber coating.
Now, Plasti-Dip is known more for the spray can style coating. Plasti-Dip is super versatile and now comes in hundreds of colors. The big appeal of Plasti-Dip is that it is completely removable without ruining your paint/material underneath. However, there is a proper way to dip things, and it will be tough to remove the dip if you don’t apply it properly.
I accidentally shut my garage door on my bumper, which was dipped, so I had to re-do the Plasti-Dip. I’m glad I had the Plasti-Dip on the bumper because otherwise the chrome cap would have been scuffed up pretty badly.
What You’ll Need
Tools and Materials
- 1-2 cans of Plasti-Dip
- Waterless Wash or Cleaner
- Isopropyl Alcohol (optional)
- Plastic Trim Removal Tool
- Microfiber Towels
- Toothpick or Non-Abrasive Pointy Object
Step 1. Remove Bumper Caps (Optional)
Removing the bumper caps is optional, but I would recommend doing so.
The first time I dipped the caps, I kept them on the truck and had some pretty bad overspray. Plasti-Dip overspray can be removed, but it takes a bit of elbow grease. I also didn’t coat the bottom of the caps well enough so removing the dip was tough.
If you are confident that you can mask off the bumpers and spray them well enough, feel free to leave them on the truck.
There are three pop-tabs on the underside of each bumper cap.
These can be removed by simply sliding your flathead screwdriver or plastic pry tools (recommended) under the tab in the middle of the circle. This will pull the middle of the tab out, which will allow the prongs on the underside to close enough for you to pull the tab out.
There is a fourth pop-tab on the bottom for the plastic bumper itself, which holds down a plastic flap. Removing it will make removing the bumper cap easier.
There are two more tabs on the inside bumper cap near the bedside. You may need a smaller screwdriver to get to these ones. The same thing applies here, pop out the middle of the tabs and pull out the full tab.
Note: There is one hidden metal tab inside of each bumper cap that is nearly impossible to reach.
Most people ignore this tab and proceed to shimmy the bumper cap off. In my case, I actually broke the plastic that the metal tab holds onto. The cap will go back on fine without it, but it would obviously be better to not break it off. Try shimmying the cap off rather than just pulling. Also, putting the metal tab back on when putting the cap back on is pretty difficult. Most people just leave it off without any issue.
Next, pull from the corner of the actual bumper surface until it pops out. This does not need to be removed completely. Popping out the top bumper will help give you room to work with and allow you to get some leverage while removing the bumper cap.
Finally, pull off the bumper cap by shimmying it and giving some force. There are a few plastic clips on the inside of the bumper that will need to come out of their slots.
Step 2. Clean Your Dipping Surface
One of the great things about Plasti-Dip is that there is no need to sand or scuff up the surfaces that you’ll be applying the dip. It is actually best to have the surface as clean and smooth as possible. A smooth, clean surface will make removing the dip down the road MUCH easier. As you can see from the photo above, the area surrounding my emblem was pretty dirty.
I used Mother’s SPEED Waterless Wash & Wax to clean the surface of my bumper caps and the surrounding area of my emblems. Make sure you clean AROUND the emblems too. You’ll see why later. After cleaning with the Mother’s product, I cleaned the emblems themselves with isopropyl alcohol to ensure I had a dirty free surface.
Step 3. Mask Off Your Emblems
After cleaning around your emblems, mask off a square/rectangle around the emblem. Make sure to leave roughly ½” between your emblem and the edge of the tape. You will want to have this buffer of space so that you have enough dip to help you peel away the excess. More on that later.
Make sure you mask off about 6″ or so around the emblems to avoid overspray. Like I mentioned before, overspray is pretty annoying to remove. I ended up using just tape to mask off, but having a newspaper or similar is preferable so you don’t waste tape as I did.
I also tried to turn up the outside pieces of tape to help contain the overspray when spraying from different angles. It definitely seemed to help.
Step 4. Time To Spray!
When it comes to spraying the dip, there are a few key pointers I can give:
- Shake the bottle really well. This will help to avoid having a grainy finish.
- Spray in rows, releasing your finger from the nozzle at each end. This will help to avoid having the edges of what your spraying be thicker than the middle.
- Spray in light coats. After applying the first coat, you should still be able to see some chrome underneath.
- Wait 10-15 minutes between your first few coats and wait 30-45mins between coats 4+.
Follow those tips to spray your bumper caps. The first coat should be light and even. You can do thicker coats after the 3rd coat. Make sure to do at least 5-7 coats. With Plasti-Dip, the thicker (more coats) it has, the easier it will be to peel off in the future. Trust me when I say this – make sure to have at least 5 coats.
With the emblems, your first coat should still be light. Make sure to fill the full square you masked off because this will make peeling much easier in the end. Again, make sure to at least do 5 or so coats, with your last few coats being the thickest.
The main thing to avoid here is putting on a coat too thick to the point that it drips. Plasti-Dip is a lot more forgiving than spray paint in my opinion, but it’s still best to start with lighter coats and get thicker as you go.
Step 4. Peel Off Excess
For the bumper caps, you shouldn’t have to worry about this step, especially if you removed the caps to dip.
To peel the emblems, carefully remove the outer layers of tape. Then CAREFULLY remove the inner layer of tape. When doing this, the dip may begin to peel a bit. This is fine. You can either try to peel the overspray dip using the tape or just rip the dip off of the tape.
Once you have all of your tape off, take an edge of the overspray dip and peel away from the emblem. If you dipped the emblem properly, the dip will peel around the emblem perfectly. You should NOT need to do any cutting to get the dip off.
Once you have all of the surrounding dip off, you can use a toothpick or other non-abrasive pointy tool to remove the dip from the inside of the letters. I skipped this step because my truck is dark enough that you can’t really tell unless you are really looking for it.
You can now put the bumper caps back on by clipping them in place in reverse order. Like I mentioned earlier, the metal clip will be hard to put back on. If you are keen on getting that clip back on, I suggest searching how to do it on Google.
The bumper caps should basically just click back into place with some pressure. Make sure to replace all of the clips you removed in the first step.
Now you have ridden your Tacoma of some of the ugly chrome! The best part about this mod is that it is cheap and completely removable. So, if you finish dipping everything and end up hating it, you really only wasted a few bucks and your time.
Check out the video below from fellow Tacoma owner, @bustabeatgeorge