How To Repair Plastic Bumpers From Home.
Let’s quickly talk about plastic bumper repair. In the video above we show you the basics of how to properly heat up and push out a large dent that was caused by backing into a fire hydrant. Their are 4 main types of automotive plastic that you’ll most likely be woking with when repairing bumpers and trim.
- TPO – Sands chunky, melts like butter with high speed grinders and gets stringy when hot. When you see me cut up OEM covers you’ll see how it melts. I have this on my body kit modification series.
- Thermo-Set – Flexible or Rigid style, sands powdery, does not melt and easy to repair.
- Poly propylene – RV Water Tanks, Dirt Bike Fenders – Very flexible in some cases.
- SMC- Sheet molded Compound – New Corvettes have it and looks like fiberglass with white powder. We will cover SMC in another article.
IMPORTANT: this is only if you want to paint your bumper cover.
Lets talk about TPO Plastics. This is one of the difficult plastics to repair. It contains 3% to 5% wax based mold release within the material.
That’s the problem, how do we get adhesive or paint to stick to mold release? Many shop owners and technicians today will just rather not touch it and throw the bumper away. TPO is repairable, but you have to take a few precautions.You need to clean your plastics well before doing any kind of sanding. Lacquer thinner works best. You may need to clean it two or three times but it’s better safe than sorry.How do you know the plastic is bumper is clean enough? Use the water test. If the water beads up like a waxed car or a water beading off a ducks back, clean it again. Try the process again until the water stays wet looking on the bumper for a while.In the video above you’ll learn the basics of how to push out dents like the one you see in the picture.
- You need to first make sure that you have enough access to get to the back of the bumper by removing part or the entire bumper cover.
- Use a professional grade auto body heat gun and start by heating the creased area of the bumper in a circular motion, then slowly working your way inwards.
- Keep a bucket of water and a rag available so you can cool the bumper as you shape it.
- Slowly use a pry bar, piece of wood to push out the dent, then cool it with your wet rag as you shape.
That’s it. Now you know how to repair plastic bumpers
For some people… this is all they want to do. For you, maybe you want to completely finish and paint it with a basic bumper paint. Later in this series, we will show you how to repair the minor imperfections, apply filler and completely paint the bumper to give it a fresh new look.
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-Tony and the LABAP Team.