How to Restore Weather Damaged Plastic on a Motorcycle

Written by hugh patterson
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How to Restore Weather Damaged Plastic on a Motorcycle
Most of this motorcyle's fairing is made from plastic. (motorcycle image by Goran Bogicevic from

Motorcycle manufacturers use plastic for everything from fenders to windshields. The majority of plastic found on a motorcycle is on its exterior, which means that a motorcycle's plastic is exposed to the effects of weather, which can damage plastic parts quickly. If those plastic parts are not repaired or restored, they will have to be replaced. Many plastic parts, such as the windshield, protect the rider. The rider's safety depends on an unobstructed windshield, free from weather damage. Use a few basic restoration products and household items to repair damaged plastic parts that would otherwise have to be replaced. The cost of restoration is a fraction of the cost of replacing weather damaged parts.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Plastic buffing compounds
  • Plastic conditioner
  • 100 per cent cotton rags
  • Painter's masking tape
  • Car polish

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  1. 1

    Inspect all plastic parts on the exterior of the motorcycle. Note each area where damage has occurred. The majority of weather-related damage comes from the sun's rays. Ultraviolet (UV) light can cause acrylic or polycarbonate windshields, headlights and tail lights to appear foggy or hazy. This haze can diminish the effectiveness of tail or headlights. If repaired early, the damage will be confined to the surface of the acrylic or polycarbonate, but if the damage is too deeply embedded in the plastic, it cannot be fixed. Most motorcycle fairings are made of high impact materials such as ABS or fibreglass. ABS or fibreglass, when exposed to UV light, can yellow over time. Sun damage can leave a chalklike layer on a fibreglass surface, indicating the start of structural damage.

    How to Restore Weather Damaged Plastic on a Motorcycle
    Motorcycle fairings, which protect the rider, can be damaged by the sun's rays. (Yellow motorcycle image by Nenad Djedovic from
  2. 2

    Wash the damaged areas with liquid dish detergent and hot water. It is important to remove any grease from the affected plastic prior to repairing the damage. Grease creates a barrier of debris, which prevents buffing compounds and plastic conditioners from doing their job. Wipe dry using a 100 per cent cotton rag. Paper towels and other fabrics can scratch the surface of many plastics. Allow the surface to completely dry before going to the next step.

  3. 3

    Apply a small amount of liquid buffing compound onto a 100 per cent cotton rag. Buffing compounds come in two formulations, one for heavy scratches and one for fine scratches. Weather damage can be repaired with a buffing compound designed for fine scratches. Lightly rub the compound across the damaged surface in a circular motion. Avoid rubbing a small area back and forth because the compound physically removes a layer of plastic as it's rubbed in. Rubbing back and forth in one spot will create a divot, removing too much plastic from the surface. If working near decals or other areas that need protection from the abrasiveness of the buffing compound, apply painter's masking tape over the area not being buffed.

    How to Restore Weather Damaged Plastic on a Motorcycle
    Buffing compounds will remove scratches from windshields, offering the rider better visibility. (police motorcycle image by Aaron Kohr from
  4. 4

    Wipe the excess buffing compound off with a 100 per cent cotton rag. The buffed surface should no longer appear hazy or yellowish. Using a clean 100 per cent cotton rag, apply a plastic conditioner to the previously buffed surface. Plastic conditioners restore the plastic by softening the plastic so it's less brittle. Brittle plastic can develop cracks over time due to prolonged exposure to UV light from the sun. Plastic conditioner can be found at any automotive retailer. Wipe off any excess conditioner and allow the surface to dry. Apply a car polish to the area that was buffed. Polish the area to a glossy shine and the project is complete.

Tips and warnings

  • Many car polishes now contain a UV blocker that helps retard the effects of the sun's harmful rays. Stand-alone UV blocker products are also available. Use a UV blocker two to three times a year to avoid sun damage.

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