Restoring ATV Plastics Has Never Been Easier (Full Guide)


Restoring ATV plastics is not impossible! My friends have been asking me to write a guide on how to shine dull ATV plastics because my four-wheeler is always shiny. I mastered this skill when I learned how to paint ATV frames and decided that the plastics needed to be restored as well.

Restore your ATV plastics with this step-by-step guide:

  1. Clean: Start with a thorough wash to remove any dirt and debris.
  2. Sand: Use a fine-grit sandpaper to gently sand the surface.
  3. Polish: Apply a plastic restorer polish to the sanded areas.
  4. Buff: Use a soft cloth to buff the surface to a brilliant shine.
  5. Protect: Finish off with a protective spray to seal in your hard work.

ATV plastics are more than just cosmetic; they’re the armor that shields your vehicle from the elements. Over time, they can lose their luster, but that doesn’t mean you’re stuck with a dull ride. With some elbow grease and a few tips and tricks, you can bring back that showroom shine. So, let’s get started and turn the clock back on your ATV’s appearance.

Why Do ATV Plastics Fade?

man restoring a yellow ATV plastic

The fading of ATV plastics is a tale as old as time—or at least as old as ATVs. Sunlight is the main culprit, with its UV rays breaking down the chemical bonds in the plastic, leading to that all-too-familiar chalky appearance. But it’s not just the sun; mud, dirt, and the occasional brush with branches also play their parts, wearing down the plastic’s surface and dulling its finish.

It’s not just about looks, though. Faded plastics can become brittle, leading to cracks and breaks that nobody wants. Think of it like sunscreen for your ATV; protection is key. The good news is, fading isn’t the end of the story. With proper care and maintenance, you can protect your ATV’s plastics from the harsh reality of outdoor life.

How To Prevent ATV Plastics From Dulling

Prevention is your first line of defense against the dull. Regular cleaning is a must—don’t let mud and grime settle in. Use cleaners designed for ATVs to keep your plastics in top shape. After a good wash, a protective spray can work wonders. These sprays form a barrier against UV rays and can keep your plastics looking newer, longer.

Here’s a quick checklist to keep your ATV’s armor shining:

  • Regular Washes: Post-ride clean-up is crucial. You don’t even have to use a pressure washer!
  • Protective Sprays: Apply after cleaning for an extra layer of defense.
  • Cover Up: When not in use, keep your ATV out of the sun. You can use an ATV shed for extra protection.
  • Gentle Products: Harsh chemicals are a no-go. Stick to ATV-friendly options.

How to Restore ATV Plastics (Full Guide)

man using heater on ATV plastic

Restoring the plastics on your ATV can transform it from a tired-looking workhorse back to its glossy, showroom self. Here’s a detailed, step-by-step guide to help you achieve the best results.

Step 1: Cleaning

Begin with a clean slate. Grab a bucket, mix in some mild detergent with water, and gently wash your ATV plastics using a sponge or a soft cloth. This step is crucial for removing any dirt, mud, or grime that could interfere with the restoration process. Rinse off the soap with plenty of water. It’s important to avoid using a pressure washer or harsh chemicals, as these can cause more damage to the plastics.

Step 2: Sanding

Once the plastics are dry, it’s time to sand. Start with a 400 to 600 grit sandpaper, and use water for wet sanding. This method helps to prevent scratches and ensures a smoother finish. Sand in a circular motion, applying even pressure throughout. The goal here is to create a uniform surface by removing the oxidized layer. Rinse off the residue periodically to check your work and ensure an even finish.

Step 3: Repairing Deep Scratches

If you encounter deep scratches or gouges, these will need special attention. Use a plastic filler or a plastic welding kit to fill or mend these imperfections. Follow the instructions carefully, allowing the filler or weld to dry completely. This step is essential for a smooth base before the final sanding and polishing.

Step 4: Fine Sanding

After the initial sanding and repairs, move on to fine sanding. Switch to a higher grit sandpaper, between 800 to 1500, to refine the surface. Continue to wet sand, as this will create a smooth, even base for the polishing stage. The finer the sandpaper, the smoother the plastic will become, preparing it for a high-gloss finish.

Step 5: Polishing

Now, apply a plastic polishing compound to the surface. If you have a rotary buffer, use it to gently work the compound into the plastic in a circular motion. If not, a soft cloth will do the job—just be prepared for a bit of a workout. The polish will start to fill in any remaining micro-scratches and bring back the shine to the ATV plastics.

Step 6: Buffing

man cleaning atv plastic

With the polishing complete, take a clean microfiber cloth and buff the surface. This step will remove any residual polish and enhance the newly restored shine. Turn the cloth frequently to ensure you’re always using a clean section for the best results. You should see the plastics starting to look as good as new.

Step 7: Protecting

Protection is key to keeping your plastics looking great. Spray a UV protective spray or apply a plastic restorer evenly across the surface. These products will add a protective layer to help shield the plastics from UV rays, which can cause fading and brittleness over time. Make sure to do this in a well-ventilated area, and it’s best to apply in the shade to prevent streaking.

Step 8: Maintaining

Finally, maintain the shine. Regularly wipe down the plastics with a mild cleaning spray and a soft cloth. This will help to keep them looking fresh and can prevent the buildup of dirt and grime that leads to dulling. Quick, regular touch-ups can extend the time between full restorations, keeping your ATV looking its best with minimal effort.

By following these steps, you’ll not only restore your ATV’s plastics but also preserve them for the long haul. Each step is designed to ensure a thorough restoration, from cleaning to protecting, giving you that satisfying before-and-after reveal.

Is It Bad To Keep Restoring ATV Plastics?

a shiny green ATV plastic bumper

Restoring ATV plastics isn’t just about vanity; it’s about vehicle health. However, there’s a balance to strike. Over-restoration can lead to weakened plastics if not done carefully. It’s like exfoliating your skin; too much can do more harm than good. The key is to restore only when necessary and always follow up with protection.

Think of each restoration as a refresh rather than a repair. If you’re restoring more often than you’re riding, it might be time to consider if you’re being too rough on your ATV or if it’s time for an upgrade. Quality plastics and proper care can extend the life of your ATV significantly.

Wrapping It Up

In the end, restoring ATV plastics is about maintaining the life and look of your vehicle. It’s a simple process that can have profound effects on both the aesthetics and integrity of your ATV. Regular maintenance, coupled with timely restoration, can keep your ATV in prime condition for years to come.

So, don’t let a little fading get you down. With this guide, you’re well-equipped to keep your ATV looking its best. Happy riding, and remember, a clean ATV is a happy ATV!

Bob Kelly

Hey there, my name is Bob and I've been riding ATVs, dirt bikes, and UTVs for most of my life. Going on outdoor adventures has always been my passion. I love sharing tips and tricks with beginners who are getting ready to join the world of outdoor enthusiasts. You can reach me at bobtheatvguy@gmail.com if you want to get in touch.

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