Best Glues for Automotive Plastic: Top Adhesives for Plastic Parts
Automotive glue is a versatile and easy way to secure plastic parts.
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If your car’s siding or spoiler starts to crack, break loose, and almost slide away, you want to use the best adhesive to hold the pieces in place. Although most vehicle parts are held together with bolts, clips, and screws, not all are made this way—some automotive parts are made of plastic, held together with car glue. To avoid spending hefty dollar amounts—which can come when replacing these items—vehicle owner’s often prefer to use double-sided tape or car glue. Yet, in many cases, neither adhesive options end up working nor work for long. When this occurs, it causes the vehicle’s exterior plastic parts to fall apart once again.
To securely fix most plastic automotive pieces requires a type of glue that can handle extreme conditions that your vehicle encounters. When deciding on the best glue for automotive plastic parts, you need to select the one that saves you from wasting time and money.
J-B Weld Plastic Bonder Adhesive and Gap Fille
- Tensile strength of 3770 PSI
- Fast-acting and sets in 15-30 minutes
- Glue is black and blends best with black plastics
- Requires mixing
- Challenging to get the mix right, and if mix is wrong, it won’t set right
Loctite Plastics Bonding System
- Provides a guarantee of the repair of any plastic
- Neat, quick, and easy to use
- Will withstand freezing temperatures once cured
- Works in less than a minute
- Requires no mixing
- Can only be applied if the temperature is above 50 degrees
Sugru Moldable Glue
- Resistant to high temperatures and water
- Multi-purpose, multi-surface moldable glue
- Once you start to shape it, you have about 30 minutes to smooth it, reposition, and fully apply
- Hardens to a tough, shock-resistant silicone rubber
- Depending on thickness, the process can take up to 12 to 24 hours
- Can be challenging to apply in tight areas because of the application process
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Types of Glue for Automotive Plastic
Two-part adhesives are typically used in automotive repairs because of their strength and durability. You'll usually see these as epoxies, and the product is essentially two separate parts that are mixed together in order to create an adhesive. The components used separately do not have adhesive properties, but the chemical reaction between the two creates a high-strength bond. This is the same process for Bondo or body filler, but epoxy is made to be a permanent seal between two parts.
Single-part adhesives are probably what first comes to mind when you think of glue; these products are made to be applied by themselves and cure by evaporation. While these products are typically easier to use, they may not provide the strongest holds. They should hold well with porous materials, such as rubber and interior pieces, but epoxy tends to do better when gluing together two items of different materials.
While the two types mentioned above focus on liquid glue, another option is moldable glue (or sticky putty). Like single-part adhesives, moldable glue dries by itself via evaporation. The advantage, especially for automotive use, is the easy application process in the hardest to reach spots. Once dried, putty is also elastic and shock-resistant, which matches the flexible properties of the plastics used in your vehicle.
In 1969, Sam and Mary Bonham created the J-B Weld Company. Sam needed a cold weld product to replace torch welding, so a Texas A&M chemist helped him formulate a two-part epoxy called J-B Weld. The product helped it grow from a local mom-and-pop-shop to an international retailer, making innovative strides with products like duct tape and WD-40. The company still produces high-quality adhesives like the popular products J-B Weld Plastic Bonder Adhesive and Gap Filler.
Professor Vernon Krieble created a "liquid locknut" in 1956. After interest in the product grew, he started the Loctite Corporation in Hartford, Conn. The Henkel company, which had been producing laundry detergent and home goods since 1876, invested in Loctite in the 1980s before acquiring the company in 1997. Today, Loctite is the biggest adhesive brand in the world with popular products like its Loctite Plastics Bonding System.
The Gorilla Glue Company is based in Cincinnati, Ohio. The company has been producing Gorilla Super Glue Gel for over two decades, a product that was initially used in Indonesia for Teak furniture but became a high-demand product due to its versatility. While a popular house product, people may ask, “Can Gorilla Glue be used on cars? any of their products are great automotive glues. Today, the company is still family-owned and operated.
Glue for Automotive Plastic Pricing
- Under $15: You can find plenty of small autoplastic glue products for under $15. These are typically single-part adhesives that are made for quick fixes and are ideal for interior pieces and minor repairs. Despite the low price, these are still some of the best plastic adhesives for automotive purposes.
- $15 and up: Depending on the brand name, size, and type of automotive glue you're looking for, a lot of the products will cost over $15. Some of the best adhesives for hard plastic will cost around $25-$30, and of course, buying in bulk can cost more.
The most important part of using adhesive is how to apply the product. Glue can be messy, and these industrial-strength products are challenging to clean up. Most liquid glues have a nozzle or top that makes it easy to apply the substance. Other glues come with a brush, which is ideal for small parts and precision application.
The plastic parts on your car are relatively flexible, and the material holding them together should be too. A stiff or rigid connection will break easily if the plastic pieces bend or shake. The best automotive plastic glues are made to move with the vehicle's parts naturally and can withstand the vibrations that come from driving. Trim pieces on your doors and interior parts of the car need to handle the shock of closing the door or driving over potholes.
The metals and plastics on your car are made to handle any weather scenario, so the adhesives holding it together should be too. Car glue for exterior parts needs to be waterproof because of the water that it will be exposed to in the rain, snow, or when you wash your car. For interior pieces, water resistance isn't as important, but protection from the heat and sun is crucial. When your car sits in the sunlight, the UV rays heat up the cabin and can potentially dry out certain materials.
- Container Size. The amount of automotive glue you need depends on what you're trying to accomplish and how often you plan to use it. If you only have a small area to fix, then a small-sized container should handle the job. Mechanics will most likely want a larger portion or multiple containers to handle a more significant workload.
- Price. Some adhesives are much more expensive than others, and there are a lot of different reasons why. One is overall strength, and while you may want the strongest glue possible, it might not be necessary to spend the extra money if you don't need industrial-strength glue. Some qualities can cost more and might not apply to your situation, like semi-permanent glues.
- Electric Insulation. You can find plenty of plastic automotive glue that works as an electric insulator. If you're looking to secure exterior pieces or seal a seam, this may not be necessary. However, don’t forget how much wiring there is in your vehicle. The amount of electrical parts means there are plenty of interior locations and spots in the engine that need extra electricity protection.
Best Glues for Automotive Plastic Reviews & Recommendations 2021
This glue is black and blends best with black plastics. If you are the owner of a black vehicle or one with black car parts, this two-part urethane adhesive system is the best choice for you. To avoid losing plastic automotive pieces, you need a permanent and hard bond. The J-B Weld Plastic Adhesive has a tensile strength of 3770 PSI. It is fast-acting and, once applied, will set in 15 to 30 minutes. With J-B Weld, you can trust that your plastic car parts will be ready sooner than many other adhesives. You do not have to worry about slowing down or getting stuck waiting for your adhesive to set—once it's set, it's set.
However, this formula requires mixing, and it can be challenging to get the mix right. Also, keep in mind that the mix is wrong, it won't set right.
Loctite Plastics is a two-piece bonding system that requires no mixing, saving you time and money. The value of this two-for-one adhesive is long-lasting and guarantees the repair of any plastic. Car owners can rejoice as the Loctite Plastics Bonding System is neat, quick, and easy to use. It can repair plastics like ABS, acrylic, melamine, polypropylene, and PVC, plus many others. Loctite comes with a surface activator solution that neutralizes materials. The adhesive is only two grams and can work in less than a minute. Repair your vehicle’s plastic automotive parts with less mess, speed, and high value. No longer worry about pieces disappearing and experiencing a downgrade in the overall look of your vehicle.
One thing to keep in mind about this glue is that it can only be applied if the temperature is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
The glue comes in different color options and bonds to glass, metal, wood, rubber, and most plastics while being resistant to high temperatures and water. The glue is a multi-purpose, multi-surface moldable glue, great for both flexible materials and plastic. Sugru is different from other plastic adhesives as it feels soft and pliable—you can hand shape it and mold its thickness when necessary. Owners can stick it where the plastic is starting to come off of the car to hold pieces in place. Once you begin to shape it, you have about 30 minutes to smooth it, reposition, and fully apply it. After application, the moldable glue will harden to a tough, shock-resistant silicone rubber.
However, depending on thickness, the process can take up to 12 to 24 hours. It can also be challenging to apply the glue in tight areas because of the application process.
Lord Fusor Extreme Plastic Repair is specifically meant for use on your automobile. If a plastic piece is falling off your vehicle, you can apply this glue to fix it back into place. Whether it is an interior or exterior plastic car part starting to break, it is an easy fix with this glue. It is usable on plastic vehicle bumpers, emblems, door trims, along with many other pieces. The Lord Extreme Plastic Repair sets extremely fast, which means you need to know precisely where to apply it before you start. The tube comes with 1.7 ounces of glue, and to use it, you need to pretreat the surface with Fusor number 601/602/603. Both GM- and Ford-approved means the glue should not void warranties or other essential guarantees. Car owners can feel confident in their repairs and that the glue will stay bonded.
Doesn’t Gorilla Glue just work on everything? The Gorilla 7700104 gel formula dries clear and is easy to sand and paint. You can use this glue on several materials in your car such as rubber, plastic, leather, and metal. The gel formula makes this glue thicker and perfect for use on vertical surfaces. It also limits the number of runs you’ll have, so it’ll be a cleaner application. It sets up incredibly fast, in less than a minute. The clear formula makes it suitable for use on all shades of plastic, which isn’t the case with several of the other glues on this list.
If you are looking for a glue that you can use on a wide variety of plastics and similar materials, this glue is what you need. The SH-302 glue works on acrylic, ABS plastic, nylon, fiberglass, phenolic, plexiglass, polycarbonate, polyester, polystyrene, PVC, and urethane. Each tube has 0.11 ounces, or 3 grams, of glue. You will like using this glue because it is easy and clean to use. The tube is drip-and-clog-proof, thanks to a special design that draws the glue back into the tube once the pressure is released from the tube. Once dry, this glue is stronger than other adhesives because it’s specifically designed for bonding plastics.
If you need an adhesive with more strength, then try the permapoxy black plastic welder, Permatex 84145. It’s a structural adhesive that, once cured, creates a durable and tough bond. Its strength is up to 3,500 PSI. It works on most plastics and is set in about five minutes. It takes 24 hours for it to fully cure. To use it, you’ll need to mix the two included ingredients together and then apply it to the plastic you want to bond. What is really nice about this glue is that it does more than glue two pieces of plastic together. You can use it to fill gaps that are up to 0.125 inches wide. This glue is resistant to weather and humidity, which makes it perfect for use on your car.
The Oatey 25531 glue is slightly different from most of the other products on this list. It is an epoxy putty stick. You can use it to fill cracks and holes in your plastic. Use the stick applicator to apply some putty and smooth it out. After about 40 minutes, it will fully harden. Then you can sand, file, drill, and paint it. Once hardened, it can withstand exposure to temperatures up to 250 degrees, compression up to 12,000 PSI, and has a shear tensile strength of 800 PSI. This product is nice because sometimes you need to repair plastic, but you have a gap or hole that needs to be filled. Regular glue will not fill it, making this putty the bond and filler you need. You can then treat it exactly like the plastic you are repairing and smooth it out to become invisible.
- Be aware of whether you need to sand or drill the glue after application. Some types of adhesive can be sanded and painted, while others will not respond to either.
- Use the correct amount of glue that is necessary for the job. Too much can lead to a spill or cause running, and if you don’t use enough glue, it might not correctly hold the pieces together.
- Always follow the manufacturer's instructions when applying automotive plastic glue. Different temperatures can affect the glue as well as the types of substrates you're connecting.
- You will want to clean and dry the surface in order to get a strong bond. This includes cleaning off any old adhesive, dirt, dust, and oils from your hands.
- You should use gloves when handling automotive glue. While most are not toxic, it’s best to be safe and avoid getting the adhesive stuck on your skin.
Q: How long is the shelf life of automotive glue?
It varies. Typically, what you need to know is how long it lasts after opening, which might be indicated on the label. If you don't plan on using all or most of the container, then buying a glue with a cap or one that lasts longer when refrigerated is best.
Q: How long does plastic glue take to dry?
Different types of glue dry at different rates. Single-part liquid glue is made to dry as fast as possible so that it won't run, which means you have less time to apply it. Adhesive putty and gel will take longer overall—sometimes overnight—to dry completely.
Q: Can I use plastic glue on other materials?
Almost every plastic glue can also be used on different materials. This is great if you don't need the full container because you can use the leftover glue on something else. It's also essential that the glue can stick to two different types of material because some jobs require gluing plastic to metal or two different types of plastics.