One of the first items on my to-do list after taking delivery of the Legacy XT was to do something about all the chrome trim. Because I opted for the Touring trim (for that sweet sweet Nappa leather), a majority of the accents on the interior and exterior were finished in chrome plastic.
Now, don't get me wrong, chrome trim has its place – our Outback for example looks nice and classy thanks to its chrome accents. But on sport sedan? No thank you! Frustratingly, Subaru seems to agree with me and eliminated the exterior chrome on the 2024 Legacy entirely. 🤦🏼♂️
So, with the decision made to eradicate all the chrome on my car, the next question was “how”?
Chrome Delete Options
After a bit of research, I decided there were three main approaches I could take:
- Order OEM non-chrome pieces and replace everything outright ($$$)
- Mask off the chrome and use spray-on Plastidip ($)
- Wrap the chrome with satin black vinyl ($$)
The first option of replacing the trim itself was a no-go almost right away. Not only would ordering all the replacement trim, covers, and grilles be very expensive, certain parts would be near-impossible to replace.
Certain portions of the window trim – specifically the rear quarter windows – are typically glued or epoxied on when the vehicle is assembled at the factory. While technically removable, it would be a huge amount of work and risk damaging something else.
The second option, Plastidip, is a great short-term solution and very cost-effective. I used Plastidip on my Fiesta ST's winter wheels, and they held up great for a few years.
However, the Plastidip got dirtier and dirtier to the point where no amount of cleaning would bring it back to the original satin black color. To make matters worse, while it was relatively straightforward to apply, removing Plastidip can be a time-consuming nightmare.
This left vinyl as the best option. And while I had seen vinyl on cars before, I had no firsthand experience with it. Fortunately, there's the internet!
Vinyl Wrapping DI Why
After an afternoon of researching and watching YouTube videos, I felt ready to try some basic vinyl wrapping myself. I ordered up some supplies, including:
- Snap-off utility knife - essential for trimming the vinyl cleanly
- Anti-static gloves - stretching and sticking vinyl without these can be tricky; your fingers will get sweaty and make it harder to smooth out the vinyl
- Plastic squeegee w/ felt edge - for smoothing and stretching the vinyl
- Micro squeegees - great for tucking the vinyl into corners and around edges
- 3M 2080 satin black vinyl - I picked up a smaller 5' x 2' roll to start
- Heat gun - an absolute necessity for persuading the vinyl to stretch/work around edges and curves
I headed out to the garage and decided to start by tackling some of the (I thought) easier pieces on the front end. The fog light surrounds seemed like they would be a good place to start, since they're relatively flat and small-ish, meaning I'd have more room for do-overs with the small amount of vinyl I'd bought.
After prepping the surface with some diluted IPA, I measured out a piece of vinyl large enough to cover the entire bezel, with a generous inch or so extra material on each side. Next, I peeled the backing off of a single corner of the vinyl and stuck it in place - making sure there would be complete coverage of the bezel on all sides.
Then, I pulled the remainder of the backing off the vinyl and pressed it into rough position, pressing it over the curves and edges of the trim piece in all directions. At this point, there were a few bubbles and wrinkles in the vinyl, so I grabbed a loose edge and gently pulled it back off, then reapplied/re-smoothed everything.
The beauty of vinyl is that you can do this place, peel, re-place many times over. Eventually the adhesive of the film will start to weaken a bit, but it's honestly pretty forgiving!
Once I had the vinyl overall in a good position, I went around and started tucking the edges with the micro squeegees - being careful not to tear or poke holes in the film.
Once everything was tucked, I went back with the utility knife and trimmed the excess film off. This is one spot where I learned an important lesson - if you trim the vinyl flush with the edge of your piece after you tuck it, it will not have as strong of a bond as if you trim before tucking, leaving a slight edge all around that you then tuck behind.
But, for a first try, I was very happy with the result!
Feeling confident, I used the remainder of the vinyl to wrap the other fog light bezel, upper grille and emblem surround and finally the door mirrors. I ended up with just enough vinyl to do all of these areas, only wasting a few tries on one of the door mirrors.
Stepping back to appreciate my work, it easily passed the "six foot" test, but upon closer inspection you could see a few of the rougher corners/edges where I wasn't able to tuck things perfectly. The upper grille in particular was very complex, especially since I tried wrapping the entire thing in one big piece.
While I had made great progress and felt OK with the result for the time being, I knew I'd need to enlist the skills of a professional if I wanted a perfect result. There's just too much nuance and experience required to get it right without wasting a ton of material and time; the latter of which I have come to value much more since becoming a Dad!
Unfortunately, with winter fast approaching, I knew I wanted to address the chrome window trim too. I decided to split the difference between professional and DIY by ordering a pre-cut window vinyl kit from Crux Motorsports.
The kit arrived with all the pieces labeled and expertly trimmed to size. David has a great series of videos on his YouTube channel showing how to apply the vinyl, so installation was honestly a breeze compared to the full DIY experience. And while still not quite perfect (my fault, not the kits) it was more than the chrome!
I'd highly recommend checking out Crux's store if you're wanting to do something similar on your car - he has a wide variety of kits available, and often runs sales during major holidays! It's a massive time (and money) saver to use a pre-cut kit VS trying to trim and tweak a full sheet of vinyl yourself. Trust me!
Getting Professional Help (Not That Kind)
I rolled through the winter with my DIY vinyl in place, and it held up surprisingly well over those months! But once summer rolled around, I decided to swallow my pride and let a pro get the front bumper and mirror vinyl sorted to perfection.
For the job, I enlisted the services of Andrew at Diamond Graphics in Cedarburg.
I met Andrew through CMG Detailing (also in Cedarburg), having taken my WRX and Legacy there for XPEL work in the past. Having interacted with him prior and seen his work, I knew the Legacy would be in good hands!
Once I uninstalled my DIY slop job vinyl, I dropped the car off with Andrew and his team early one morning in July. Within a matter of hours, he had re-wrapped everything, and I was able to pick the car up later that afternoon.
Andrew did an amazing job, putting my newbie efforts to shame. His years of experience and skill easily showed - it was frankly impossible to tell that the pieces were wrapped in vinyl, and not OEM!
He was also generous enough to walk me around his (relatively) new shop, showing me some of the other projects he and his team were working on. Learning about his background in the industry - he's completely self-taught - was humbling and inspiring. Having started in his driveway wrapping friend's cars on the weekend, years later he's running his own business with multiple employees and working on some incredible, high-end cars!
If you're in southeastern WI and thinking about vinyl wrap for your car, make sure you give Andrew a call! His professionalism, skill, and kindness are unmatched. And make sure you tell him Ben sent you!
I'm very happy with the results of the vinyl wrap on my Legacy. While it was fun to try my own hand at it, I quickly learned that it really is a skill that takes years and many many tries to perfect. As someone who often treads the DIY route myself, I have no qualms about leaving this stuff to the pros.
As of writing this, the Legacy is now almost fully blacked-out; it's really starting to look like the grown-up WRX I imagined in my head when I picked it up last spring! Another huge thanks to Crux Motorsports and Diamond Graphics for helping me get the car to this point!
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