Posted on

How to restore faded plastic panels, motorcycle or car

This article details how to restore faded plastic panels on your motorcycle or car back to their former glory. I had this issue some time back with a dirtbike and all of the bright red sidepanels and mudguards (fenders) had gone to a very feminine pink! Sun exposure usually does this and fades the panels over time.

Please note, this method requires the careful use of a sharp blade. It’s a technique that will work but requires a bit of dexterity. Practice on old panels first if you really want the best results.

OK, so let’s see what we need for this:

  • A Stanley knife blade, brand new, also known as a box cutter.
  • (OPTIONAL) Some 1200 grit ‘Wet or Dry’ sandpaper with water.
  • A clean rag, lint free.
  • A tin of alcohol.
  • A hot air gun.

The basic method is to remove the top layer to get down to the fresh plastic below by scraping over the whole area until the colour is uniform and as original. Hold the blade at 45 degrees to avoid ‘digging in’. Once finished, you’ll find a few lines created by your scraping, so you’ll need to scrape in the opposite direction and at 90 degrees to make smooth.

Optionally, we can now use some fine grade ‘Wet or Dry’ paper with some water to go over the whole panel. Use a minimum of 1200 grit as this will not leave scratch marks. This stage is not always required but may improve the final finish. Dry off the panel before moving to the next stage.

Using a clean rag, add some alcohol to it and wipe over the panel. What we are doing here is removing the impurities before we melt the top layer of plastic. Impurities can cause lumps, cracks or blisters and this stage avoids that.

Now we move on to the hot air gun. These are very common in hardware stores or online and can be picked up very cheaply, there are some links below.  Use the hot air gun and heat the panel until you start to see some reflections appearing. Don’t overdo this as you might deform the panel. Keep the hot air gun moving so you don’t concentrate the heat in any particular area.

As you can see from the video below, we now have a new-looking shine on our panel. By practising this method, you can save lots of money and restore even the most worn-looking panels.