Pickup truck bed covers are great for keeping your cargo protected from the elements. However, over time, the plastic components like strips, hinges, and clamps can become cracked from daily wear and tear. Cracked plastic strips on your truck bed cover can lead to leaking, damage to your cargo, and an unsightly appearance. Thankfully, there are several effective methods for repairing cracked plastic strips to get your cover looking and functioning like new again.
Should I Use An Adhesive To Repair The Cracked Strips?
Using a plastic adhesive is one of the easiest ways to repair cracked plastic strips on your cover. Adhesives formulated specifically for plastic, such as Loctite Plastics Bonding System or Loctite Plastic Bonder, work well to join cracked pieces and seal leaks. The key is choosing the right adhesive for the job.
Here are some questions to help determine if adhesive is the right solution:
What Type Of Plastic Is The Strip Made From?
- Polyethylene and polypropylene plastics will require a flexible adhesive formulated for bonding slick surfaces. Loctite makes versatile adhesives designed for these tricky plastics.
How Large Is The Cracked Area Needing Repair?
- For small cracks, a plastic adhesive like Loctite Quick Set Epoxy or Bondini All Plastic Fusion works well. For more extensive repairs, a structural adhesive like Loctite Clear Epoxy is a better choice.
Does The Repair Area Need To Be Waterproof?
- For leaks, choose a waterproof adhesive like Loctite Clear Silicone. Avoid porous “all-purpose” glues.
Will The Repair Area Be Under Tension or Stress?
- Opt for a flexible, high-strength adhesive like Loctite GO2 Glue for parts subject to vibration or flexing.
Considering these factors will ensure you select the right adhesive for long-lasting repairs. Follow the product instructions carefully for best results.
Can I Use Plastic Glue To Fix Small Cracks In The Strips?
For minor cracks and splits in plastic strips, using a plastic model cement glue designed for plastic is an easy and effective method. Here is a simple technique:
Clean The Area Thoroughly
- Remove any dirt, grease or debris so the glue bonds tightly.
Apply The Plastic Glue Liberally To The Cracked Area
- Work the glue into the crack or seam using a toothpick or applicator.
Clamp The Pieces Together Until The Glue Dries
- Use a C-clamp, vise, or weighted object to hold the strip together as the glue sets.
Allow At Least 1 Hour Of Drying Time
- Check the product instructions for the recommended drying time. Most plastic model glues need 1-2 hours before handling.
Sand And Paint The Repaired Area If Needed
- Lightly sand any uneven areas once dry. Apply touch up paint to match the color.
With this method, small cracked areas can be fixed quickly, often without needing clamps or accessories. Be sure to use a glue formulated specifically for plastic for the best results.
Can Hot Water Be Used To Reshape Cracked Plastic Strips?
Softening plastic with hot water is a simple “DIY” approach for reforming cracked or warped areas on plastic components. Here is how to use this technique:
Boil A Pot Of Water Until Fully Heated
- The water will need to be hot enough to soften the plastic – near boiling point.
Hold The Damaged Area Over The Steam
- Position the cracked strip a few inches above the water’s surface. The steam will heat and soften the plastic gradually.
Reshape The Plastic By Hand Once Softened
- Use gloves to protect your hands! Mold the strip back into shape, sealing any cracks.
Cool Under Cold Running Water
- After reshaping, cool the strip under cold water to harden the plastic in the corrected shape.
This works best for minor cracks and warping damage. The key is slowly heating the area to avoid over-softening the plastic. Practice caution to avoid burns when handling hot items.
What Is The Best Plastic Filler To Use For A Severely Damaged Strip?
For more substantial damage like large cracks, gouges, or holes, using a plastic filler epoxy putty is often the most effective repair method. Here are some tips for success:
Clean The Damaged Area Thoroughly
- Remove any loose plastic pieces, grease, or debris so the filler adheres properly.
Trim Any Loose Edges Around The Damage
- Neaten the area by trimming away tattered plastic edges with scissors.
Drill Stop Holes At Crack Ends
- Drilling small holes prevents the crack from spreading further as you repair it.
Apply Bracing Tape To The Underside If Accessible
- Bracing helps support the area during repairs.
Degrease The Area With A Cleaner
- Remove any oil residue for maximum filler adhesion.
Knead The Two-Part Filler Putty Together
- Mix the putty thoroughly until uniform in color with no streaks.
Press The Putty Firmly Into The Damaged Section
- Overfill slightly to allow for sanding. Ensure there are no air pockets or gaps.
Allow The Filler To Dry Completely Per Product Directions
- Drying times vary – allow at least 2-3 hours.
Smooth And Shape As Needed With Sandpaper
- Wet sanding avoids scattering plastic dust. Use fine grit paper for the final shine.
Apply Touch Up Paint To Match Surrounding Area
- Use thin coats of paint in light layers for a professional look.
With some time and care, plastic filler putty can return even severely damaged plastic strips to likenew condition or better. Just be sure to follow all product directions closely.
Can I Weld Plastic Strips For A Permanent Repair?
For extreme damage or completely split seams, plastic welding, or “soldering” may be required. This fuses the plastic together on a molecular level, creating an extremely strong, weatherproof repair. However, welding plastic requires specialized tools and skill.
Here is an overview of the plastic welding process:
Clean The Repair Area Thoroughly
- All surfaces must be free of dirt, oil, moisture and debris.
Prepare The Welder And Plastic Filler Rod
- Turn on the welder to preheat the tip. Ready a filler rod matching the plastic type.
Melt The Rod And Plastic Together In Sections
- Weld 2-3 inches at a time, blending the molten plastic together.
Smooth Each Section As You Go
- Carefully scrape and blend the melted plastic for an even finish.
Allow The Repair To Cool Completely Before Handling
- Plastic will remain pliable while warm – resist the urge to touch!
Sand And Finish The Repaired Area
- Once fully cooled, wet sand for a smooth uniform surface.
Apply Protective Paint If Needed
- Paint to match surrounding areas and protect from UV damage.
Plastic welding creates extremely tough repairs capable of handling heavy use and exposure. While more difficult, it is the ultimate solution for severe plastic strip damage. Seek experienced assistance if attempting this advanced repair method.
What Is The Easiest Temporary Fix For A Cracked Strip?
If you need a quick temporary repair for a cracked plastic strip until a more thorough fix can be done, duct tape can work in a pinch. For small cracks or holes follow this approach:
Clean The Surrounding Area So Tape Adheres
- Use a degreaser or soap and water to clean.
Cut A Patch Slightly Larger Than The Damaged Section
- Oval or rectangular patches work best to bridge gaps.
Apply The Tape Patch Over The Cracked Area
- Press down firmly starting at the center and smooth edges.
Seal The Edges With Additional Tape if Needed
- Wrapping the outer edges with tape ensures water resistance.
Duct tape is an easy immediate solution for minor cracks or holes while a more permanent solution is arranged. It achieves basic protection from the elements at low cost. Replace it as soon as possible with a better repair option for longevity.
What Are Some Preventative Steps To Avoid Cracks In Cover Strips?
While cracks are often unavoidable over time, taking some proactive steps can significantly extend the life of your cover’s plastic components:
- Use plastic protectants like 303 Aerospace Protectant to keep the material flexible.
- Keep strips clean and free of debris and dirt buildup.
- Avoid overtightening clamps or bolts to reduce stress on the plastic.
- Lubricate slider rails and hinges to prevent binding and tearing.
- Limit direct sun exposure by parking in shade when possible.
- Check for cracks frequently and repair quickly before they spread.
With vigilance and care, you can minimize cracking and get the maximum usable life from your pickup bed cover. But even with preventative care, cracks happen eventually. Now you have the knowledge to fix them properly and keep your cargo protected from the elements for years to come.