303 Aerospace Protectant Review and Guideby Ivan Rajic
The 303 Aerospace Protectant (303 AP) is a major tool in any detailer’s arsenal. It is not only very good at what it does, but it is so easy to apply and serves so many various functions that it’s a no brainer to have and keep for good.
“Simply spray or wipe the 303 Aerospace Protectant on any vinyl, rubber, plastic and leather surface and you’ll instantly have a richer looking finish with valuable UV protection. The superior protection this product provides is critical to the long term care of your vehicle. The 303 Protectant is great to use on your vehicle’s rubber (tires, seals, hoses), vinyl (dashboard, doors, armrests, interior and exterior trim, engine casings, convertible tops), plastic (car bras, gauges, grills, trim, convertible’s soft windows), leather (seats, trim) and so much more. This versatile product gives all of these surfaces valuable conditioners and protection that will keep each surface looking new and fresh for years to come with regular treatments. The tires, leather seats, exterior trim and dashboard often get prolonged exposure to harmful UV rays so it’s important to thoroughly protect those surfaces. Keeping your interior looking clean and dust free can be challenging, but the 303 Protectant is up to the challenge. Applying the 303 Protectant to your dashboard, arm rests, seats and doors will help repel dust, dirt and human oils from collecting. Many other dressings are oily and greasy which can actually attract dust and dry out the surface. Any surface you apply Aerospace Protectant to will leave behind a beautiful matte finish. For best results just apply one nice thin coating and you’ll instantly notice the beautiful finish it leaves behind!”
The description alone makes my review useless to a degree :), but I’ll try anyway to further explain the product’s advantages.
303 AP Advantages
First off, 303 AP is extremely easy to use, as you’ll see in my quick guide below. You simply need to wipe on, wipe off and you’re done. All that’s necessary for this application is some 303 AP and a microfiber towel, that’s it! If you care to see a bit more gloss you can go with 2-3 coats and notice quite a difference.
Second, 303 AP has various uses around the vehicle. As noted in the description above, it can protect anything from tires, to exterior trim, to interior leather, and so on. It’s just as easy to use on one as it is on another part of the vehicle and does a great job no matter what it protects. Also, it never leaves a glossy/oily surface that detracts from the cleanliness of the car or car part. The finish is matte and clean looking.
Lastly, durability of it is comparable to or better than most dedicated dressings out there, such as vinyl dressings, tire dressings, etc. On tires, I find it to last for a week or two easily and keep a nice dark look, especially if a couple coats are applied. On the interior, you can usually check durability of it on the dashboard by noting how easy it is to wipe off any dust that has settled. With 303 AP applied, I notice my dashboard to be much cleaner as well as easier to clean. A microfiber towel with some Optimum No-Rinse (ONR) will glide across the dash and pick up dust much easier when there’s some 303 AP applied to the dash. Also for the interior, the durability is much better and, other than the dash which gets most damage from the sun, you can easily see 303 AP protecting for a good 6-8 weeks.
How to use 303 AP
Below is a very short guide on how I like to use the 303 AP and a few photos to show the results. I prefer a dark matte surface on pretty much anything I condition and protect, which is why I use 303 AP for almost any sort of dressing or conditioning that I’ll be doing on a vehicle. For this guide, I used a small trim piece from my 93 BMW 325i to show what 303 AP can achieve in a very short period of time. The trim piece is roughly 6” x 2” in size for reference.
As you can see in the photo below, the trim piece is showing its 18 years and 237,000 miles by sporting a beat up, gray and defeated look…
As mentioned toward the beginning of this article, all you need is a microfiber towel to apply and remove 303 AP. I like to use a 16” x 16” (or similar size) towel, fold it in half 3 times to end up with roughly a 4” x 8” surface area exposed. I then spray this area 2-3 times using the 16oz. spray bottle and apply the product to trim/etc. using back and forth then up and down motions to ensure it really gets into every pore. For such a small trim piece, I would only spray the towel 1-2 times before applying 303 AP to it so as to not apply too much. One thing worthy mentioning… when applying, I find it best to basically keep wiping a few times with the damp part of the towel, then turn the towel over and keep lightly wiping to a nice matte finish. Some people prefer to wipe on, leave alone for a few minutes, then wipe off residue later on. I obviously prefer the “WOWO” (wipe-on-wipe-off) method, but to each their own.
Here you can see 303 AP applied to only half of the trim piece…
You can see here that 303 AP not only makes the trim much darker, but also fills in some of the deeper scuff marks for a cleaner look. All this while remaining perfectly matte with no sign of oily or dirty residue. Keep in mind this is done with a trim piece that was only wiped down with some ONR prior to the 303 AP application, so it didn’t receive a thorough wash or cleaning.
Finally, the after photo:
If you simply look at the before and after photo, due to the lighting conditions you can’t tell much of a difference in how much darker the piece is, but don’t let the photos fool you. The difference in the before vs after photo is in the details. One can easily see how just one application of 303 AP filled in all the scuff marks and stains, leaving a cleaner looking trim piece that when put back on the vehicle doesn’t belong at all with the other pieces. The half/half photo is a clear indicator in how 303 AP improved the black look of the trim.
Honestly there’s not much more than can be said about this great product. It passes with flying colors all the tests detailers like myself look for in such products… ease of use, quality/performance and durability. It also comes in multiple sizes so you can purchase however much you need, although I highly recommend purchasing a gallon because you’ll find yourself using it on every car and even around the house. As you can see in the first photo, I like to put a custom sprayer on the 16oz. bottle and work with that. 303 Aerospace Protectant is a great product in every sense of the word and one that I don’t see myself replacing with anything for many years to come.
I’ll end this article with a photo of my helper for the day looking on wondering “are we done yet?!”. I took the photos in my parents’ back yard and their little Pomeranian wouldn’t leave me alone.
As always, hope you enjoyed it and please leave any comments below.
Perfect timing. I was planning on ordering a gallon today and this reinforces my decision.
Glad I could help Andy. You won’t regret it!
Great article Ivan, and equally great product. I use it a lot and it never lets me down!
Thanks Todd. It definitely is a great product.
I love this product. My interior only collects a fraction of the dust it used to when using Meg’s Natural Shine Cleaner/Protectant.
I love that it doesn’t run on exterior plastic trim.
I love articles like this, thoroughly explaining the everyday products you guys use so that we thoroughly understand
1)Why you use them specifically, as opposed to something the rest of us monkeys pick up from the local autozone
2)How you use it, along with little tidbits about what you use it in conjunction with any why (in this article for example, ONR)
It really helps to explain why we keep seeing these products pop up in every article and it’s nice to know their specific purpose, which would obviously make the more in-depth detailing articles lengthy and cumbersome. So much time and effort goes in to explain the different DAs, polishes, pads, waxes etc. that sometimes these products get forgotten.
How are you diluting your ONR for the interior “wash” prior to the 303? Just curious, many detailers seem to have their own ONR cocktail. I am trying to maximize my use of both ONR and 303 Protectant.
Kris & Tim: I can definitely relate to both of those characteristics and fully agree. It works a lot better than a lot of products out there, and just simply better than the rest :).
Matt: Thanks for the comments, I really appreciate it. I’m lining up some more similar “simple” articles that should be up shortly, so hopefully you’ll enjoy those as well.
Nathan: I tend to fudge around with their 8oz ONR to 1gallon of water ratio recommendation. I believe it’s recommended for quick detailer, or it may be clay lube… I don’t have a bottle on me now. In any case, it comes out to 2oz of ONR per one 32oz spray bottle. Usually I’ll go with 3-4ish oz. ONR when using it as clay lube or quick detailer and 1-1.5-2oz when using it for the interior stuff. I used a more concentrated solution for the trim as I was trying to clean it up a bit, whereas I’ll use the less concentrated one on interiors to provide some cleaning but mostly collect all the dust really well.
I have tried diluting 303 AP before to a 1:1 and 3:1 (303 AP:water) ratios, but didn’t really like it at 3:1 and didn’t like it at all at 1:1. It seemed to run a bit more, which makes sense as I diluted it with distilled water, so I now use it straight out of the bottle.
Hope that makes sense.
Articles like this are great for those of us that don’t do this work regularly. It takes the experimentation and guess work out of the process, plus it saves us money and time and aggrevation. Ivan this was very informative the way you broke down the steps and reasoning on why and how. Thanks for the help.
Thanks for the kind works Mike. Really makes the writing easier and more enjoyable for me, and I believe other authors as well. I’m currently working on a few others similar to this, explaining some things on the PC 7424XP, ONR, etc. Hope those are helpful just as much as this one.
I like 303 on everything but tires. It turned my tires almost brown after a couple applications over a two month period. It took alot of grime reaper and a stiff brush to get them back to black again. 303 is the bomb under the hood though.
Did you clean the tires before applying the 303 AP? I’ve noticed that most people completely disregard tire cleaning and over time they start to retain so much dirt that they’re nearly impossible to clean.
I never had any such experience so I’m wondering what the process of application was in your case.
What do you use to clean the tires before applying 303?
Great article on a very useful and popular product Ivan!
HONDA ELEMENT… 1/2 of mine is plastic.
I love this product now that I live in sunny LA with no garage. It is amazing!!
Thanks for the detailed review (no pun intended), Ivan!!
Please tell me, how do you think AP303 would look & perform as ‘final’ dressing in (1) the wheel wells, and (2) the engine bay?
Thanks for the kind words Jon.
I regularly use 303 AP on tires as well as engine bay plastics. Sometimes I use it to dress the wheel wells as well but more often than not I’m using Meguiar’s Hyper Dressing there.
I like the look of AP on ANY plastic and the protection it provides is great. For those who prefer a more glossy look may need to apply a few coats of 303 AP but if you’re like myself and most of my clients in that your prefer a clean, dark, matte finish, then you should like 303 AP on any of the above surfaces.
Hope that helps,
That does help, quite a lot! Thanks for the quick reply, Ivan.
Happy Holidays to you as well Jon!
What do you use to clean the tires before you apply the 303 protectant?
I use an all purpose cleaner, a brush or two and a lot of elbow grease. Usually it’s a must to clean the tires thoroughly as they are rarely cleaned well and many have layers upon layers of old dressings.
Your thoughts on using on cloth dashboard & doors and a convertible (canvas type)? I have a smart car and it has both canvas top and cloth dashboard which I am afraid will fade with the sun.
I don’t know about using it on cloth but I do regularly use it on convertible tops with great results. 303 has their fabric protectant that may work well for you on the cloth parts, unless you want to give the AP a try. Hope that helps.
I too have found this product to be excellent. It lasts so long after application.
I am looking to buy a gallon. But freight charges would make a gallon of 303 a gallon of Patron. I need to find someone local that carries it. Or free freight.
My husband and I just love this 303 Protectant for its many uses. He is a fly fishing guide and uses his own equipment and rafts. I preparing on of his rafts, he put it on our Eon composit decking, then sprayed away. After removing the raft, the deck is now left with its imprint! The deck is also really slippery and not too safe to walk on! How can I remove this wonderful product? Never thought I’d be asking this question! Ha! Ha!
Thank you, Lynn
I going to suggest you try some All Purpose cleaner and allow it to dwell then scrub. Rinse off deck and see. You might have to step up to a strong degreaser such as Optimums Power Clean.
Do you use this product for leather seat cleaning/conditioning?
While I do use it on leather, I don’t use it as a cleaner or conditioner, rather a light layer of protection if you will. I don’t normally use this on leather seats, because those either get the Leatherique treatment or a light wipedown, so I sometimes use it on a leather dash when not using Leatherique, simply for some protection. Hope that helps!
used the 303 aerospace protectant on my 2004 avalanche . This is the only product I have found that brings the plastic back to life. I apply every 2-3 weeks and have never been so happy. Thanks for the great product
I like to use a low lustre protectant for my light color dashboard. Many protectants leave a glossy shine behind, which can by blinding in the hot sun out west. How does this product rate in the reflectivity department?
Mark, I never noticed any bad reflection from the outside light and in itself 303 AP isn’t a glossy/shiny product. I think it’s a bit dependent on what kind of surface it’s being applied to, but normally even 2-3 coats produces only a slightly more shiny than matte finish.
Im looking to really clean the interior of my car. Dash board, leather seats, everything you can think of. Is this product capable of cleaning and really making a car look show room new? Also I want to make the exterior of my car shine again like car room quality. Rims, plastic trim, entire body. Can you use this product on the body of a car also (kind of like a wax I guess you can say im looking for).
303 AP does lightly clean, but I would recommend using it as a dressing to improve the look of and protect trim, rubber, etc. For cleaning, you can try some products meant just for that task in order to clean it safely and properly before applying the protection. I wouldn’t use it on anything but plastic, rubber, etc.
I have a 2012 Dodge Challenger SXT with a flat/matte WIDE stripe on the hood and flat/matte double stripes on each side. Will this product harm the paint finish in ANY way?
John I honestly can’t say for certain whether it would harm the finish but from my experience with it, it’s fairly harmless. As with anything, if you get some on the paint I would recommend wiping it off quickly, but overall it shouldn’t do any damage.
Have a ’10 Avalanche and usually the plastic boards and sides show the Arizona sun, within 6 weeks of some off brand protection. The 303 usually lasts about 3 months in direct sun, but its better than the other market products.
I love this product and have been using it on my motorcycle and helmet/visors as well. Will soon start using this on my boat.
One thing that I noticed though from the article that is only partially correct is that 303 only advocates this product on finished/protected leather, not natural or unstained leather. If your car has natural leather seats that are unfinished. you should use leather specialized treatments instead. 303 also has a product specifically for natural leather but I haven’t tried that one. There is a full description of this on 303’s website along with a test to determine which type of leather is in your car.
Hi Ivan. I just fell on this article, and did went and both a 1oz bottle of 303 protectant. I have an 2008 Acura TL and like many other cars having the passanger air bag within the dash, it leaves an imprint after a little while. I really hope this product will remove or at least bring that air bag imprint to almost invisible. Thanks and let me know. Regards
Sorry… not a 1oz, but 16oz bottle… 😉
am using the product with the white label why do I see same product name with blue label? is this a legit product?
Joseph, this article is about 3.5 years old now and the label you’re seeing in the photos here is simply the old one. Looks like 303 decided to update it to the white label somewhat recently. It’s the same product.
I have four brand new tires that I will not be using for about three months. I have them stored in a indoor dry shed on a pallet lying flat two and two. I am thinking of coating them with 303 until ready for mounting. Do you feel this is a good idea? Thank you for your time, Jim Ferere
I don’t see a reason not to Jim, unless they already have something on them.
I used 303 on the vinyl convertible top of my Honda S2000. I found it was too easy to get it on painted surfaces and too hard to remove from same. I could not get all the smudge from the 303 off the paint and windows. I applied it with a clean applicator ( not microfiber). Any thoughts?
Not sure why it was hard to remove Bob as I’ve never had trouble removing any product that overlapped. I would try some isopropyl alcohol mixed with water to remove the excess product and hopefully that removes it.
I have been reading about water soluble vs chemical. I’ve never treated or made a fuss over my tires. Didn’t think I needed to. I don’t need “shiney” tires either. I drive a minivan not a show car, hot rod, etc. I value “productive” over “image”. If I’m going to use anything (still not sure if it really makes a difference – I don’t want to dry them out any faster and apparently the manufacturers, from what I’ve read, have done something to the rubber in the tires to help with aging that I don’t want to mess with either) I’m sold on the water soluble solution. It makes sense to me. It seems to be like “sunscreen”, however, one of the earlier comments I read from Lynn said: “After removing the raft, the deck is now left with its imprint! The deck is also really slippery and not too safe to walk on! How can I remove this wonderful product?” Yikes! To me, that means it must NOT be water soluble otherwise why would it be so difficult to remove? I ask because I have to replace one of my tires that keeps needing to be reinflated (doesn’t retain 40psi after 8 years) only because the guy at the tire shop said it wasn’t repairable… too “weathered” = cracks in the sidewalls, not safe, possible blowout. I don’t have a garage. I’ve looked into Meguiars Hyper Dressing. It seems to be a good product from the reviews, articles and blogs, but I don’t want to spend +$40 for an entire gallon of something I’m not completely sure will actually help prolong the life of my brand new tires. I’m just a reasonably sensible woman trying to take care of my transportation. I’ve Googled for something comparable at a more reasonable retail size and found 303 Aerospace Protectant. It’s sold down the street at O’Reilly’s Auto Parts. I just don’t want to add time to washing my car if it’s really not going to make a difference in prolonging the life of my tires or worse could possibly shorten their lifetime. Thank you in advance for any input. 🙂
While I couldn’t tell you in terms of chemistry, I haven’t experienced any issues with 303 AP or Hyper dressing on my own or clients’ tires. We mainly use Meg’s Hyper Dressing and also CarPro perl with great results. I would imagine the water soluble part has different levels, in that it takes a different amount of cleaning/washing to remove. Some stuff can be water soluble and wash off with just a mitt and water (quick detailer) while others can take on a few washes before they deteriorate (carnauba wax). Wish I could be of more help, but I would say you shouldn’t worry about either of the two products damaging your tires over time.
IIvan, I saw the comment about tires I use 303. Just recently I tried it. On the tires of my jeep commander and it does well like tire dressing and looks liked it mays be lasting longer than torte dressing
Sorry about the s on may
Has anyone ever tried using the 303AP on the clear plastic lens covers on the headlights & taillights? Thought it might prevent the dull UV yellowing they can get over time.
I’ve never applied it that way, but it should help.
can 303 be put on vinyl shutters
Never tried it unfortunately Gary, but I don’t see a reason it shouldn’t work well and look good on there.
Is the new 303 leather care better for leather seats than the original. I have a 2010 328i convertible I just purchased with the light Dakota seats that are in excellent shape. Would like to keep them that way. Thank you
Unfortunately Alex I don’t have enough experience with either to really answer your question. Knowing 303 makes good products and having some positive experience with the new leather product, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
This product is the shizen, beats all others to heck after using other products for yrs.
I used 303 trim restorer and protectant on the exterior plastic of a jeep wrangler. Now the black trim is 2 colors both black and white specs/streaks of the 303 product. I am assuming I applied to much of the product. It is most notable on the Flares. Do you have any suggestions on fixing this problem? How can I remove the product?
Not sure what happened there David as I’ve never had an issue with 303 products. Can it be there was some other product that’s streaking or leaving white specs?
Can anybody explain to me what the difference is between the 303 Aerospace Protectant and the 303 Automotive Protectant?
Frank – The 303 Automotive line features the same exact formulas as the original 303 line. The 303 Aerospace Protectant and 303 Automotive Protectant are the same exact formula, just with a different label.
I used the 303 aerospace protectant on my boat canvas in error, I had grabbed the wrong product, it should have been the 303 fabric protectant. What should I do now? Will it ruin my canvas? Should I put the 303 fabric protectant on the canvas now or wash them and then apply the 303 fabric protectant??
I don’t think it will damage anything, but I’d say washing it is a better option than applying something on top.
Is 303 aerospace protect the product to use to preserve the vinyl window in a Jeep Wrangler soft top? How should I wash the vinyl windows? I intend to clean the Jeep Premium soft with 303 convertible cleaner and preserve the soft top with the 303 Fabric Guard.
Is this he correct regimen? Thanks
I really can’t say what’s best for the vinyl windows, but I’m sure 303 AP won’t hurt it at all. That sounds like the right regimen for the top, but hopefully someone else can clarify regarding the vinyl windows.
I used 303 fabric protector on my Honda S2000 convertible top (detailing shop said it was the one I should use), but after application noticed a warning that the product should NOT be used on vinyl (which is the convertible top material). I washed the top several times thoroughly a couple hours later — is my top ruined? Anything else I can do? Thanks,
Does it do a good job on fiberglass sidewalls on a motorhome?
I have used 303 protectant for at least 10 years and it has kept the rubber on everything I have owned in perfect shape. I recently installed vinyl windows in my house and have applied 303 to all the plastic seals, but would like to know if I could apply it to the exposed vinyl parts of the window.
Pros: The keyboard is very compact but despite that, it has normal sized keys for great use. It is extremely easy to use and the length of the USB is about half the width of a 10 rupee note (shorter side). Cons: The only problem I saw was that the backspace key is too small and you’ll need to get accustomed to that. Also, there is no indication for Caps Lock, Num keys etc. I would recommend this product.
I have heard this is great for RV’s. The problem is it is impossible to get the RV out of direct sunlight. What happens if you use it in direct sunlight?
does 303 off-gas onto the inside of the windshield like most of the other protectants do?
No, John, it won’t offgas onto your windows. Good question. Oil based products do this. 303 is water based. Have at it, bud.
Thanks for all the information!!!
I have a 1952 Chevy hardtop with Coker wide white wall tires . Does this work well for clean wide white tires to protect them ?
Would it darken the white walls?
It’s left stains on my instrument panel plastic that will not wipe off. Any ideas on how to fix?
Can you use on the cloth on shoes or do they have another product for that?
Can I use 303 on my trek composite decking? I spray it on my transition strips which are rubber from time to time to keep them conditioned and the over spray on the deck make the decking look nice and I believe protected. I was thinking about using on a hose spray bottle to cover decking. any thoughts. I could call trek also . Thanks Ron
Here in the Southern CA desert, my Jeep Wrangler’s bumpers turn a grey color instead of the bright black look. I use the 303 AP on all the bumpers. When first applied there is little change and at first I use to think it didn’t work. The next morning it looked like I’d installed new bumpers front and rear. So the change is not instant, but takes a few hours to see the difference. I have to do this at least twice a year.