How to: Repair and Paint your Car’s Plastic Bumper Cover.
Plastic bumpers appeared in the 1970’s because of lower manufacturing costs, styling, light weight, and ease of replacement.
Your plastic bumper cover will be one of two types. 2000 and earlier cars use a cover made of a softer material, while post-2000 models use a plastic material that is more rigid. The procedure for repairing both types of plastic bumper covers is essentially the same, though.
Bumper cover repair
There are various methods of performing this type of plastic bumper cover repair, ranging from plastic welding to adhesives such as flexible two-part epoxy. For rigid plastic covers, most body shops use plastics welders as they produce a more solid repair and can fill holes more effectively than adhesives. Plastic welding is also less likely to crack over time due to vibration and changes in temperature. It is more expensive, however.
Another method of repair is to use a heat gun, applying it to the edges of the crack or split, then “mashing” the melted plastic edges together until they stick.
If you’re on a budget and use adhesives for your bumper cover repair, make sure to thoroughly clean the area to be repaired, and grind away enough material at the sight of the crack or split to hold enough adhesive to make the repair effective. You can also glue or otherwise affix fiberglass mesh tape across the crack or split, giving the adhesive something extra to stick to, thereby strengthening the repair. Make sure to apply adhesives in thin layers and allow ample drying time for each layer.
Once the crack or split is filled, it’s time for sanding. Sand the repair with 80-grit sandpaper to knock down high spots and achieve a basic shape before applying the base coat of body filler. The filler you use will be dependent on the type of plastic the bumper is made of. While regular plastic filler will work, it may crack over time from vibration and temperature changes, so try to use an adhesive filler compatible with the plastic of the bumper. Apply thin coats and allow ample dry time.
Sand the body filler with 80-grit sandpaper until smooth and finish off with 150-grit sandpaper. Spray a thick enough coat of primer. to cover the repair and fill any small scratches. When the primer is dry, sand with 320-grit sandpaper until smooth. Re-apply primer. and sand with 400-grit sandpaper until the repair is smooth enough for your base coat of bumper cover paint. Be careful that your paint blending overlaps sanding scratches, as they may show through. Check that the bumper cover paint matches by using the paint code on your vehicles identification tag.
Once the base color coat of paint is applied and properly blended, allow the paint to dry, then wet sand with 400-grit sandpaper to prep the paint for clear coat.
Once the clear coat is applied and your paint blending is complete, allow it to dry, and you should have a beautiful bumper cover repair you can take pride in.