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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I realize there are several other posts detailing removal and painting of the cowl but this is how to is specifically restore color and flex to plastics not just paint over a specific part.

This how to assumes you have basic common sense and can use Google search. If you don't or cant please move on.

First off this will not work on every type of plastic. It works on thermoplastics (ie. ABS) and homopolymers (ie. PPF) as well as a few others. You can usually find the type of plastic by looking for print on the back of a part. Please do not ask me if it will work on a certain part try it yourself. If anyone does ask I will assume you didn't bother to read this and wont bother to reply.

For an example i will be using the 3g wiper cowl grille #MR322153 as it is a PPF homopolymer and as such can be heated to repair much of the UV fading that we commonly see as a white discoloration.

This process brings the natural color back to the surface and will also smooth out some minor scuffs as well as redistribute the plasticizers making the part more flexible. This will also enable better adhesion of paint or adhesives if you intend to go that route. The results will vary but in most cases the finished part will look near new for many years if you protect it with 303 Aerospace Protectant.

You will need a Heat gun 750W or higher and 303 Aerospace Protectant. A hairdryer will not get much hotter than 130F and we need to be in the 225F+ range.
PPF will melt around 450F but we dont need to get it anywhere near that hot for this project. I use this wagner gun from amazon on low heat its cheap and reliable. The 303 can be found at any boat supply store or online. I get mine at a West Marine locally.

Wagner 0503008 HT1000 1, 200-watt Heat Gun - - Amazon.com



1. Obviously first you need to remove the part if areas around the part cannot be exposed to heat. Please see a how to or use common sense and remove your part. Clean the part well and let it dry.


2. Lay the part somewhere resistant to heat or hold it vertically. I like to have a fan running nearby so that I am cooling the part after i have finished an area. Use gloves or oven mitts if you feel you need them. In the photos i had to lay it down to take the pictures but i actually did he process while holding the part vertically.


3. Use low heat and keep moving across the part in small circular motions. Your looking for the color to come to the top and a sign of wetness. Once you have achieved that move on to the next area. If you continually heat the plastic beyond that initial wetness and shine you will melt it. Don't worry its actually pretty hard to melt it but I am sure someone will message in saying they walked away for 10 minutes and when they came back they melted it to which I will probably laugh. For the grill vented pieces apply heat from multiple angles to wet the inside of the vents. For the cowl i did both sides even through the back still retained its original color as it had no UV exposure. The reason i did both sides is to restore flexibility across the entire part.




4. Let it cool completely. If you message me you burned yourself i will laugh


5. Apply 303 protectant or paint/plastidip. Do not paint over 303 it is water based. Chemicals in spray paint will leech plasticizers out of parts though.

- This will last for several years if using 303 protectant. This car took 5 years to start fading again and was sitting outside in arizona sun daily and only because i stopped applying 303. 303 should be applied light not heavy and every 4-6 weeks.
- This will also work with ABS plastics and can restore some flexibility to the dash but once it has cracked you will need to repair it.
- See my next How To's for a complete dash repair with fiberglass backing as well as a full car led bulb swap not just the common ones everyone else does.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
That would soften the parts but since the heat would be uniform it wouldnt draw as much color to the surface as direct heat but the results would vary based on the thickness and temperature. You might get decent results but you might also warp the parts and lose the shape since thermoplastics are able to be reformed with heat.
 

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Can you just put smaller parts in a pre-heated oven?
He said "Please do not ask me if it will work on a certain part try it yourself. If anyone does ask I will assume you didn't bother to read this and wont bother to reply".

So he won't reply to you. My guess is try it out with a part from the junk yard first.
 

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That would soften the parts but since the heat would be uniform it wouldnt draw as much color to the surface as direct heat but the results would vary based on the thickness and temperature. You might get decent results but you might also warp the parts and lose the shape since thermoplastics are able to be reformed with heat.

Thanks! So the key is heating just the faded area enough to change color then cooling quickly. It looks like the texture changed slightly?
 

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I noticed this occurrence back in the day whenever I would use a heatgun on headlights, I never thought that it could be used as a way to restore faded plastics. :yesway:

I'm sure higher heats would work much faster but also increase risk of overheating it, however, if the plastic is thick enough that you aren't heating it all the way through then you don't have to worry too much about deforming it. I wouldn't be surprised if the texture "smooths" out a bit when you're doing this since the outer layer/peaks in the texture would be the hottest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks! So the key is heating just the faded area enough to change color then cooling quickly. It looks like the texture changed slightly?
The texture looks and feels the same unless you get it really hot then you will smooth it out somewhat. The cooling quickly doesnt matter its the act of applying heat to the surface to pull the color up from the center of the part.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I noticed this occurrence back in the day whenever I would use a heatgun on headlights, I never thought that it could be used as a way to restore faded plastics. :yesway:

I'm sure higher heats would work much faster but also increase risk of overheating it, however, if the plastic is thick enough that you aren't heating it all the way through then you don't have to worry too much about deforming it. I wouldn't be surprised if the texture "smooths" out a bit when you're doing this since the outer layer/peaks in the texture would be the hottest.
Yes be careful with the higher heat as you will create a even temperature throughout the part and pull very little color to the surface. The cowl on low heat takes maybe 20 mins for both sides. I have done thicker colored bumpers like jeeps and dirt bike fenders on high heat if they were still mounted on the vehicle as then there is less chance of deformation and abs is more forgiving.
 

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The texture looks and feels the same unless you get it really hot then you will smooth it out somewhat. The cooling quickly doesnt matter its the act of applying heat to the surface to pull the color up from the center of the part.
Well the only reason I mentioned cooling quickly was to prevent sagging or warping. Great information, I've stuck this thread. Does this work on other colors of faded plastic as well like red or blue?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well the only reason I mentioned cooling quickly was to prevent sagging or warping. Great information, I've stuck this thread. Does this work on other colors of faded plastic as well like red or blue?
Yes as long as they are solid color throughout. It works with any color. The first time i did this i was 10 years old and was trying to bend back my red honda atc fender after it warped from engine heat. As a kid seeing that faded almost pink go back to shiny red i never forgot and i have always been fascinated with plastics.
 
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