ATV Plastic Repair: Cracks, Scratches, And Fading


Cracks and scratches on your ATV plastics are bound to happen sooner or later. You could maintain and clean your ATV after every use, and still, you’ll end up with faded or scratched up plastic eventually.

To some people, scuffed up plastic on their quad is not a big deal. I mean, it’s not like it affects performance, handling, or anything important anyways. But there’s just something about the way it makes the machine look that I don’t like. So I went ahead and found the best ways to fix some of the most common ATV plastic damage you’ll encounter.

Fix ATV Plastic Fading

It’s a good idea to know why plastic fades to help you understand why the methods here work for restoring faded plastic. Basically, plastic starts to look faded because the oils in the plastic evaporate over time. The evaporation of oils in the plastic is sped up when the plastic sits in the sun for long periods of time.

Plastic is made from refined oil, and as the oil in the top layer of the plastic evaporates, the plastic is weakened and looks faded. Your plastics become more prone to cracks too the more you let it fade and weaken.

You could simply sand down the top layer of plastic, until you get to the part where the oil hasn’t evaporated yet. Then buff it out until it looks nice and new. But with this approach, you’re still weakening the plastic because you are actually removing layers of the plastic each time you do this.

Another method I’ve tried, is using a heat gun to help bring the oil in the plastic to the surface. This does work pretty good and makes the plastic look nice. But again, you’re not actually restoring oil to the plastic so over time, the plastic is getting weaker and weaker.

My preferred method, and what I recommend you try first. Is to get this Premium Plastic Restorer From Car Guys found here on Amazon. This way you’re not removing plastic, oil, or anything else from your ATV parts. In fact, this stuff is actually adding additives to the plastic to help get them to the condition they were in when they were brand new. This particular plastic restorer also has some nice UV protection to help keep the plastic from drying out and fading in the future.

Keep in mind, this is not to repair scratches or anything like that. It is specifically to restore dry faded plastic. There are some other brands out there that will do the same thing, I’ve just had the most luck with this one. To be honest, this is way easier than sanding or using a heat gun anyway, and I don’t have to worry about the structural integrity of the plastic being compromised.

Fix ATV Scratches

There are two types of scratches you’ll encounter most often, light scratches or deep scratches. Light scratches are the ones caused by branches or bushes hitting the plastics and leaving little visible marks. A lot of people don’t even bother with these types of scratches, and just chalk it up to wear and tear. But for someone spending a lot of money on a quad or ATV, I can understand wanting to remove even the littlest of scratches.

The best way I’ve found for removing light scratches is to go with some 1500 Grit Wet Sandpaper. Just use the sand paper over the areas with scratches and buff it out when you’re done. You could finish up with a coat of the plastic restorer I talked about above to make it look brand new.

Using wet sand paper could even work for medium to deep scratches, but I don’t like removing that much plastic from my ATV parts. For the deeper scratches you end up having to start with 400 grit or worse, and work your way up to 1500 grit to get a smooth surface. For me, it’s not worth all the time and energy sanding to just end up compromising the integrity of the plastics. Don’t forget, the more plastic you sand away, the easier they will crack.

So for deeper scratches I’ll use a plastic bonder/filler. My go-to is this JB Weld Plastic Bonder Gap Filler found here on Amazon. I’ll use this to actually just fill the scratches. It’s pretty easy to use, you push out some of the goop from each tube. It’s a 1 to 1 ratio and comes out at the same time. Mix it together and fill the deep scratches with it. The stuff sets in about 15 – 20 mins and you can sand it down after a half hour.

If you use a putty knife to clean off the excess after filling the scratch, it makes the sanding after much easier. This does set in a black color, so if you don’t want to have to paint afterwards, don’t use this method. I don’t paint after, and I don’t mind having the black filler here and there on the plastics. It’s better than having deep gouges in your plastics just asking to be cracked.

Fix ATV Cracked Plastics

If you haven’t taken care of your ATV plastics, they could dry out over time and eventually crack and break. Or the more likely option, you hit something didn’t you? That’s ok, cracked plastics can usually be fixed without too much trouble. If you don’t want to spend the money buying new plastic parts, you’ll need to do it yourself.

For small little cracks you could try using the JB Weld I talked about above, but that only really works for cracks less than a few inches. But, you probably really messed your toy up bad, and for that, you’re gonna need something better.

I recommend using what’s called a hot staple gun. Like this Astro 7600 Hot Staple Gun Kit found here on Amazon. This thing is amazing and I’ve used it on more than just my ATV. It works by heating up these specially designed staples it comes with. The staples get set into the plastic making a nice strong bond, but still allowing the plastic to be flexible.

You just line up the pieces you want joined, and use the staple gun to staple them together. The staple is heated to it can sink into the plastic a bit, making a super strong bond. I always do the stapling on the underside of the plastic, that way you don’t see the staples. If you use this method, you will still see the crack on the upper side of the plastics. You can then use the JB Weld to fill in the crack, and then sand away any excess making a nice smooth surface.

Discolored From Bending

Sometimes a piece of plastic from an ATV gets bent but doesn’t crack. That’s good, you don’t have to repair any cracked plastics now. But it can leave a discolored looking area on the plastic that doesn’t look right.

For fixes like this, I like to use a heat gun. It’s really kinda cool how well it works, you can watch the plastic change color as you hold the heat gun to it. Be careful though, too much heat can melt the plastics and there’s no coming back from that. Hold the heat gun a few inches away from the plastic and keep it moving side to side the whole time.

Any old heat gun will work for something like this. Heck, I’ve seen people use a propane torch with success. If you’re unsure what type of heat gun to use, check this Heat Gun from Amazon for starters.

That’s all there is to it. If you want to paint your ATV plastics a new color, check out this article: How To Prep And Paint ATV Plastics.

Rob

That's me sinking another ATV. I love to ride no matter what it is, snowmobiles, four wheelers, dirt bikes, and anything else off-roading. I've experienced my fair share of machines, and like to share that experience here.

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