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ATV Plastic Repair: Cracks, Scratches, And Fading

ATV Plastic Repair: Cracks, Scratches, And Fading

Cracks and scratches on your ATV plastics are bound to happen sooner or later. It doesn’t matter how diligently you clean and maintain your ATV after every ride; those pesky imperfections always seem to find their way onto the plastic surfaces. And let’s be honest, faded or scratched-up plastic just doesn’t give off the same cool vibes as a pristine ride.

Now, I know some people might argue that scuffed-up plastic on their quad is not a big deal. After all, it doesn’t affect performance, handling, or anything important, right? So why bother? 

For me, there’s just something about the way it makes the machine look that I don’t like. It’s like a constant reminder of the wear and tear our trusty ATVs endure. If you worry about this too, fear not! I’ve done some thorough research and found the best ways to tackle the most common ATV plastic damage you’re likely to encounter. Whether you’re dealing with a hairline crack or a deep scratch, I’ve got your back. 

So let’s dive into these tried-and-true techniques that will have your ATV looking as good as new in no time. Say goodbye to those unsightly marks and hello to a fresh and clean ride!

ATV Plastic Repair Techniques: Cracks, Scratches, and Fading

Fix ATV Plastic Fading

It’s a good idea to know why plastic fades to help you understand why the methods mentioned here work for restoring faded plastic. 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.

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 them 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 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 well and makes the plastic look nice. But again, you’re not 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. This stuff is 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, that 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 sandpaper 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 sandpaper 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 it will crack.

So for deeper scratches, I’ll use a plastic binder/filler. My go-to is this JB Weld Plastic Bonder Gap Filler found here on Amazon. I’ll use this to 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 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 much easier. This is set in a black color, so if you don’t want to have to paint afterward, 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 badly, 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 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 so 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 plastic. 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 kinda of 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.

Thanks so much for reading to the end!

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