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Reconditioning or recycling plastic auto bumper covers is becoming a common practice especially now that most part the world is facing serious waste disposal issues. After all, most plastics, particularly those that are used in bumper covers, are repairable. So the next time you encounter the inevitable and got the cover of your bumper cracked or dented, go for the cheapest remedy, which is to have it repaired, not replaced.
Here are the steps in repairing your plastic bumper cover:
Step 1: Removing the bumper cover
While small cracks and scratches can be repaired without taking off the cover of the bumper, you'll have better angle and you can work more comfortably if you uninstall it. This will also save the surrounding panels from possible damage they can get during the repair. Find out what secure the cover in place (screws, bolts, self-locking tabs, or fasteners) so you'll know the proper way to loosen them and have the cover uninstalled.
Step 2: Identifying the plastic
To find out the type of plastic the cover is made of, flip to its backside and look for the stamp. The label, which can be PP, PPO, TPE, TEO, TPO, PUR or TPUR, is important as it helps determine the kind of adhesive that's safe for you to use. Before paying for any product that will be applied on the plastic surface, verify first if it can be safely used on your bumper cover.
Step 3: Preparing the damaged area
Using a cleaning pad, apply a plastic cleaner or solvent to the damaged area. Carefully scrub particularly the back part as well as the edges of the crack. Doing so will remove contaminants from the surface. If the bumper cover is really filthy, wash it first inside and out before scrubbing. Lacquer thinner can be used for dirt that's really difficult to remove.
Sand the area using 80-grit sandpaper and remove the paint from at least 2 inches around the damaged spot. Make sure to feather the edges to make the transition from dull to shiny paint seamless. You also need to smooth out any rough or jagged edges along cracks and tears using sandpaper.
Step 4: Applying flexible body filler
You need to use plastic squeegee to apply thick layer of filling over the damaged part of the bumper cover. If you're repairing a dent, cover it and the surrounding edges with the filler. When fixing cracks or holes, make sure the filler gets into the crack and the area around it. Let the filler dry for an hour before sanding it smooth with 120-grit sandpaper. To smooth out any rough surface left, sand again, this time with 220-grit sandpaper. Clean the repaired area by wiping it down with wax and grease remover using a rag.
Step 5: Painting the bumper cover
To paint the repaired area, spray a moderate coat of primer first. The proper way to do that is to hold the can 6 to 8 inches from the surface and spray in left to right strokes. Allow the primer to dry. After 30 minutes, use 220-grit sandpaper to sand it smooth. Wipe the area once again with wax and grease remover and let it sit for a few minutes.
Then, apply three to four coats of paint, following the correct steps in applying the primer. Wait for 10 minutes between coats. Apply three to four thin layers of clear coat paint. Allow the area to dry for a whole day before touching it and reinstalling your bumper cover.