Because ATVs spend most of their time outdoors, their plastic body can quickly appear aged and faded. Regular interaction with mud, water, and dirt makes things worse.
A well worked farming ATV may also experience cracks in the plastic and windshield, from exposure to the elements and impact from small rocks and branches.
In this guide, we explain how to make your ATV look like new. We give you some tips on how to restore faded plastic on your ATV and fix cracks on the plastic body or windshield.
What You'll Learn Today
Methods For Restoring Faded Plastic
We went digging around for plastic restoration methods that actually work. We found three good ones, and one that works but we don’t recommend it.
1. Linseed Oil
Oils will generally restore faded plastic. The best oil for this is linseed oil. We got this idea from the following video, where the ATV owner mixes Linseed oil with paint thinner in a 40/60 ratio.
The paint thinner helps the linseed oil dry faster and prevents an oily sticky residue on the plastic. You’ll also notice they use boiled linseed oil, not the regular one. Boiled linseed oil is not actually boiled. It’s treated with heat and additives to make it dry faster – in about 24 hours.
Regular linseed oil can take days or weeks to dry.
When applying linseed oil, you’ll want full access to the plastic body. Remove the rack and any other parts over the plastic.
We also recommend washing your ATV and letting it dry before applying the linseed oil. After application, let it dry for a full day.
This method seems to last fairly long, as long as you keep your ATV covered or sheltered when not in use. It’ll retain its shiny new look for a few months.
If you use the ATV outdoors a lot, the treatment will last a month or so.
But you can easily re-apply it.
2. Store-bought Plastic Restorer
There are plenty of products in stores that claim to restore plastic. One of the most popular is Solution Finish and CAR GUYS Plastic Restorer.
A look through customer reviews shows that they work. How long the restoration lasts varies from product to product, and how well you protect your ATV. But most seem to last for several months.
When using a particular restorer, check the directions of application on the label. Also, most of these products are also good for vinyl. If your ATV seat has a vinyl cover, you can use these restorers to reverse fading.
3. Heat Gun
This is the controversial one that we don’t recommend. It works like this: you set a heat gun to the lowest setting then blow it a couple inches from the plastic, moving slowly over the faded areas.
This method produces instant results. The faded plastic immediately appears new and shiny.
While it works, how it works is the problem. The heat partially melts the top layer of the plastic, making it appear new.
Similar to other plastic restoration methods, the heat gun method doesn’t last forever. Oxidation and fading will return after several weeks or months. So you have to repeat the treatment.
The problem is that everytime you use a heat gun, the plastic gets more brittle and more likely to crack as you go about your work.
So we don’t recommend using a heat gun. Use linseed oil or a plastic restorer. If you want a long term restoration, see the last method below.
Instead of trying to restore faded plastic, you can just give it a new layer of paint. Look for spray paints that are suitable for ATV plastics. You may also need to apply a primer coat and a protective top coat.
Keep in mind though that even the new paint will eventually fade, but it can last much longer than other plastic restoration methods.
How to Fix Cracks on Plastic and Windshield
Cracked plastic is a bit more challenging to repair. If a chunk of the plastic has come off, not just a simple crack, you may be better off replacing the entire plastic part.
But if it’s just a crack, there’s hope. We found several possible ways to fix cracked ATV plastic. However, most of them, such as using epoxy or superglue don’t work well. As soon as you go out with the ATV again, the sealed crack comes loose.
The fix that seems to work best is melting the plastic. You can use a plastic welder, heat gun, soldering iron, or some other source of heat to melt the plastic along the crack. You’ll need to apply pressure on both sides of the plastic until the melted plastic cures and holds.
For bigger cracks, you may need to melt an external plastic to fill the crack. The ATV owner in the video below uses a zip tie. You can also buy plastic welding rods or reinforcement plastic mesh.
As for the windshield, since it is likely acrylic, an acrylic solvent cement or an acrylic adhesive is the best solution.
Follow instructions on the label. Remember to wash the windshield before applying any product.