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I thought I would post how I changed the color of the yellowed power steering reservoir using black dye. The tank is Nylon, which will readily absorb dye if the correct products and processes are used. There are a few sites on the internet where people are using this to color motorcycle tanks and a variety of other plastic parts.

Start with one ugly plastic tank. Cap/Dipstick optional.

Clean it up really good. Simple Green with some steel/bronze wool is what I used, but there are probably lots of ways to get this done. Most importantly get rid of the grease/wax, etc just like if you are painting.

Pick out a pot that you don’t care much about. From researching, a stainless steel pot will not stain at all, but I didn’t want to risk blemishing a pot my wife would ever be using ever. So I ended up finding this nice aluminum pot that is for camping. It’s been well, maybe a couple decades since the wife went camping, so its all safe.
Before you dive in completely, have a plan for how to keep the tank immersed in the pot because it’s really difficult to get all the air out. I found that a socket extension was long enough and had enough weight to mostly keep the tank under water.


I used the Rit Black powdered dye. About ¼ of the bag. There were some other liquid dye options, but seems like this was the only option that was certain to get me to an actual black. So dump the dye and some water and a couple cups of white vinegar and a couple tablespoons of soap into the brew and mix it as it warms up. I used liquid laundry detergent. I think dishwasher detergent would have been the best choice, but all we had was the pods.

The instructions I found wanted me to get the temp up to maybe 180 degrees, but I can’t remember for sure. Everything sort of fell apart in terms of following directions from here on out. The IR temp sensor didn’t work like I thought, and I can tell you this mixture will easily boil over all over the place if you don’t watch it. Any of you single guys might have better luck if you can do this in the kitchen, but here again, I am playing it safe with rarely used, but difficult to control camp stove set up in the garage.

I kept the temp just below boiling and tuned it every 10 minutes for an hour. The dyeing process apparently penetrates the plastic, so longer in is deeper coloring. My understanding is the vinegar along with the heat opens up the pores a bit for some plastics to absorb.

It came out looking reasonably good. I had done a bit of experimenting on the bottom of the tank by scratching it up just a bit. Some other guys on the internets had used a heat gun to magically make small scratches disappear leaving just a smooth glossy shine. So I tried it

And I am not very patient, so all I got was blisters. But with some practice I think this could bring scratched surfaces back to new appearance.

I am pleased with the end product. It does have a few scratches, but I am hopeful that it will be durable because I will certainly spill some caustic chemical on it over time, and probably scrape over it with tools that might scrape off paint.
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