How to Repair a Plastic Auto Bug Shield

by Hugh Patterson
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pickup 4x4 car from above image by alma_sacra from

Plastic bug shields offer important protection, preventing debris like small rocks from damaging your vehicle’s front end. Even insects hitting a car at just 30 miles per hour can damage the finish. Plastic bug shields are made from durable plastics such as ABS, and acrylic. However, even durable plastics can break. Replacement bug shields are expensive, but you can use solvent cement to repair a plastic bug shield for a fraction of the cost.

Step 1

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Remove the bug shield, which either clips on or screws on. Because solvent cements can damage the vehicle's finish, you do not want to attempt a repair unless you have removed the shield. Solvent cement will not work if a layer of oil or grease is present; thus, wash the shield with a dish detergent formulated for grease. Allow the shield to dry completely before gluing.

Step 2

Fit the broken pieces together to ensure a clean connection at the break. Clean cracks, in acrylic, look seamless when the two pieces are butted against one another tightly. ABS distorts more, when broken, due to the nature of the material, so the pieces do not fit together as neatly. If the cracked pieces have a gap between them when fitted together, a plastic patch may be needed. This is a thin piece of plastic glued to the backside of the crack to provide reinforcement.

Step 3

Clamp the broken pieces together using spring clamps. When the broken pieces are held firmly in place, with the cracked edges cleanly lined up, mark the clamp’s positions with painter’s masking tape. Marking the positions of the clamps makes it easier to reposition them after the solvent cement is applied. Remove the clamps.

Step 4

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Fill the squeeze bottle applicator with solvent cement. Fill the bottle to the halfway point. Squeeze the bottle while upright, until the solvent cement is near the top. Slightly release the pressure, while still holding the bottle. This creates a vacuum that keeps the glue from spilling when the bottle is inverted.

Apply a thin line of solvent cement to one of the broken pieces. Connect the other broken piece, making sure the pieces are aligned. Clamp the two pieces together, using the painter’s masking tape marks to align the clamps. Allow two hours drying time before handling. If the pieces need additional support because the pieces do not fit together cleanly, cut a small piece of thin acrylic or ABS plastic to use as a backing. The plastic should be 1/16 inches thick, the same length as the crack, but one inch wider. Apply solvent cement to the plastic backing. Apply the patch to the backside of the break or crack, then clamp in place. Remove the clamps after six hours. Mount the bug shield back on the vehicle to complete the project.

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