No matter how much you love dashing across the toughest of terrains on your All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV), the damaged plastic may leave you disappointed in the end. Not only it deteriorates the aesthetic appeal of the bike; it can affect its performance too.
Therefore, we will discuss how to repair and refinish your dirt bike plastics for riding across the valley as you were meant to in this article.
What causes the plastic to fade?
Before proceeding towards the techniques to refinish the ATV plastics, you should understand the reasons why they fade and crack. Since plastic is a product of crude oil, it is prone to reactions when exposed to the sun. One such reaction is the evaporation of pigmenting oils which causes the plastic to fade and dry out. If your bike sits under the sun for too long, the plastic can dry out to the extent that it will crackdown.
Fading occurs in different fashions in light and dull colors. While the darker shades develop a white layer on top which can be scraped off. But it leaves a dull plastic beneath. On the other hand, the lighter colors develop a yellowing on top, which looks terrible.
How can you prevent the ATV plastic from getting faded?
Well, it is always wiser to prevent the damage rather than spending hours into repairing it later. Therefore, we would advise you to follow the given techniques to bring an ample amount of oils back into your dirt bike plastic.
- Use Plastic Refinish Kits
- Use Paint Thinner and Boiled Linseed Oil
- Sanding and Buffing
Use Plastic Refinish Kits
Out of a multitude of products that promise to refinish your ATV plastic and make it as good as new, here are a couple those caught our eye for actually being effective.
- CarGuys Plastic Restorer: If you are looking for a plastic restorer who will offer tremendous and long-lasting shine after use, then this product is meant for you. Yes, you can apply it comfortably on the surface of your bike plastic with the help of the applicator included in the packaging. An added advantage of ordering this product is that the manufacturers offer a No Questions Asked return on the restorer. So, if you are not satisfied with how it looks after use, you can return it.
- TriNova Plastic Restorer: Of all the ATV plastic restorers, TriNova provides a shine which doesn’t seem to go away even after rough use. Then again, applying it can be a little bit of endeavour because it is a wet gel which requires over 12 hours under the sun to set. It is after it dries out that you can watch your dirt bike glow like new. Also, while using the restorer, you must not forget to keep the surroundings of the bike clear so that no dust, dirt, or debris can accumulate on the plastic surface as the saturated solution can trap them.
Another technique to restore the faded plastic surfaces of ATV is to bring the oils back on top. Certainly, this is not the easiest of all methods and requires a lot of skill, you will never have to rely on outside solutions once you master this technique.
For using heat to bring back the sheen on your ATV plastic, you can use a heat gun and direct focused heat towards the faded regions. Make sure that there is no direct contact between the flame and the plastic, and you target small patches every time you bring heat close to the plastic.
Even though it is difficult to get a uniform sheen with this method, here are the steps which will help make this process easier for you.
- As a beginner, you should try out the technique on the underside of the fender or any other area with low visibility. It will take you some practice to understand the duration for which the heat is to be applied and when to stop.
- Use the multiple settings of the heat gun to your advantage and begin with the lowest setting from a foot away. This will allow the plastic to warm up gently rather than melting it.
- Now that you’ve become a bit comfortable with the heat gun, you can move closer to the areas which can be covered by the size of the gun. Keep the heat focused on the area until you do not see shine and color coming back on the surface. This will almost look like the plastic is melting, but it isn’t.
- Once you see the shine, remove the heat from that region and apply the heat at other spots, allowing it to cool down. The heat might stay in one application or fade away again. If it fades away, then you can try using the method once or twice more.
If you are of the opinion that more heat will expedite the process, then you are not meant to use this technique. Higher heat will only melt the plastic, damage that you cannot possibly fix without investing more.
Use Paint Thinner and Boiled Linseed Oil
While no product claims to be the mixture of the two, millions of dirt-biking enthusiasts swear by the use of paint thinner and linseed oil to bring back the dirt-bike plastics to life.
- For this, all you have to prepare is a mixture of paint thinner and boiled linseed oil. Use two parts of the former and three of the latter and fill them in a spray bottle.
- Once you have the mixture ready, spray some on a rag and wipe it along the surface of the vehicle. Make sure that you use fast movements to create a thin layer of the mix on the surface.
- Now, let the mixture sit on the plastic, under the heat, for approximately half an hour to let the pores of the plastic open up and allow the mixture to set in.
- After 20-30 minutes, wipe off the excess mix from the surface and allow it to dry under the sun for another 30 minutes.
Even though it is a quite readily available technique, you need to be very careful and tactful while using it. This is because if the vehicle is not cleaned properly before application, the dirt will get trapped in the sticky liquid. Then again, the shine you get after the application is worth the pain.
Sanding and Buffing
For those looking for a permanent solution for your ATV plastic, then it is to sand and buff the surface to bring the high-quality plastic on top. However, this technique will require you to invest a lot of time and efforts. So, we would advise you to indulge in it only if you have hours to invest in your dirt bike.
Here are the steps for sanding and buffing you can follow to restore the ATV plastic:
- According to the amount of damage on the plastic, you can select the sandpaper grit you want to use. Begin with a 400 grit sandpaper. However, if the damage is too much, you can use a 220 grip paper, but anything below that can remove too much plastic from the part and crack it.
- Sanding the bike dry can prove disastrous for your bike as the sandpaper can gum up. Therefore, you should use running water on the surface and wet sandpaper to sand off the damaged surface. This will ensure a comparatively smoother finish on your plastic too. Ideally, bikers keep a bucket of water next to them and dip the sandpaper into it every 20 seconds to remove hazing.
- Once you have removed the majority of haze, the leftover damage can be finished with a finer 800 grit sandpaper. After this, the application of 1200 grit sandpaper should follow for smoothing out the scratches on the plastic.
- Now, the surface is ready to be buffed with the buffing compound to bring back the bike to its old glory and shine.
Apart from the hazing, it would help if you got rid of stickers with clear sections too so that the faded surface is not visible through them after you have restored the plastic.
What if the plastic gets cracked down?
Heavy exposure to sunlight or rigorous use of restoring techniques like sanding can also lead to cracked or broken plastic. While this damage seems irreversible, you can, in fact, make some amends to the plastic to join it again. This technique will save a fortune in replacing the panel altogether.
For those wondering what we are going to suggest welding the plastic, you’re mistaken. We have a better solution which will leave no seams on your plastic panels. Yes, we are recommending the use of metal mesh while welding the plastic panels so that they can hold up against the toughest of weathers.
For welding, clean both the surfaces. Plugin the welder and keep the wire mesh in hand so that it can be fixed when needed. Now, melt the less visible edges of the plastic with the welder while fixing the mesh along its length. Overlap half an inch of plastic and press it on the mesh to cover it and hold firmly. Repaint the plastic with a high-build primer to strengthen the bond.
We understand that your ATV means a lot to you and you don’t mind going the extra mile to make it look the best. Hence, we have brought the above tips and techniques for you to keep your dirt bike plastic in top shape always.