How to Restore ATV Plastic
Your ATV is a beast of the outdoors, seldom spending much of its life inside. The plastic body of ATVs becomes faded from the sun’s rays, and thrashing around in dirt, mud, snow, and water doesn’t help. Plastics get scuffed by boots or passing debris, and cracks can appear in the body or windshield.
There are a few options for restoring your ATV’s faded plastic so it looks like a showroom model again. These options vary in cost and difficulty. In this guide, we’ll look at all the common ways to restore the luster of your ATV’s plastic body.
Linseed oil can restore faded plastic, but it takes ages to dry. You want boiled linseed oil, instead. Note—this doesn’t mean you boil the linseed oil yourself! It means that the linseed oil has been pre-treated to dry faster.
To speed things along, choose boiled linseed oil and mix it with paint thinner. We recommend a 40/60 ratio of linseed oil and paint thinner.
Start by cleaning your ATV thoroughly. For best results, you’ll want to remove the rack and any other parts of the machine that are covering the plastics.
Apply the mixture to your plastics using a dry cloth. You’ll notice the linseed oil will remove the oxidization that’s causing fading. After you’ve applied the mixture to all the plastic, allow it a full day to dry.
If you keep your ATV covered and don’t use it every day, this fix will last for a few months. If you constantly use your ATV outdoors, this treatment may be required to be performed again in 4-6 weeks.
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You’ll need good access to your ATV’s plastics, so remove the skid plates and racks. If they are severely damaged in any way, you may want to replace them completely. To complement your better-looking new plastics, you may want to strip or sand your racks and paint them with a spray-on bedliner.
Next up, give the ATV a good clean overall. A mixture of dishwashing liquid and water will remove all the grease and oils from the surfaces.
Now it’s time to prepare the plastic for waxing. This means sanding the plastic with fine sandpaper, working your way up from the lowest number of sandpaper up to the highest. You can use an oscillating tool to speed up the process. Make sure you’re wearing safe gloves, and finish up by sanding with steel wool.
Apply a vinyl floor liquid wax to the plastic using a car wax applicator. Using thin coats, you can work on one section of the plastic while another section dries. You will need to apply several coats, buffing out the plastic after each application.
After the final coat is complete and bone dry, finish up with an automotive wax for an extra layer of sheen.
This process is more involved than the linseed oil and paint thinner fix, but it typically has a longer-lasting result.
Instead of a linseed oil and paint thinner mixture or vinyl liquid wax, you can use a dedicated plastic restorer product. While most of these products work very well, they are basically just variations of our above options with slightly different chemical compositions.
Using a heat gun does work to make plastics look new, but it has downsides.
To perform the procedure, you use a heat gun set to a low setting and blow it from a few inches above the problem plastic. Voila—the plastic looks as good as new.
But it’s not really an option that we recommend. It works by melting the top layer of the plastic, which in turn makes the plastic more brittle. Every time you perform a heat gun restoration, your plastics lose some strength.
Where we would suggest using a heat gun is to work out small cracks in the plastic. Severe cracks necessitate replacement, though.
These are the top ways to restore your ATV plastic. Another option is to cover your faded plastic with a new lick of paint from a spray paint that’s specifically suitable for plastic. Whatever option you choose, with just a little bit of elbow grease you can have your ATV back in showroom condition.