Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
BuzznerSuntrusts

Headlight needs love

Recommended Posts

Have any of you tried any of the available headlight polishing kits on the market? Working on a friend's '00 and the headlight is extremely hazy and needs to get cleared up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have used plastic polish and drill mounted buffing kit that I got from tap plastics.  It works pretty well.

 

Also recommend that after you get it as clear as possible, have clear bra installed and that will prevent any further deterioration of clarity.  I have clear bra installed right away on anything that I purchase that has plastic headlights.  Years later they look like new. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have used toothpaste and other similar abrasives on car headlights.  After this is done they yellow again pretty fast so they either need a good UV resistant clear on them or shoot 'em with a UV protectant spray from time to time.  Or clearbra material as above.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, JoelF said:

I have used toothpaste and other similar abrasives on car headlights.  After this is done they yellow again pretty fast so they either need a good UV resistant clear on them or shoot 'em with a UV protectant spray from time to time.  Or clearbra material as above.

How about that 3M Paint Defender spray on clear protector? 

 

I found an old bottle of Novus plastic polish in the garage and on a small test area it looks better with about 2 minutes of effort.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Dunno about the 3m stuff, never tried it.  Usually plastic polish is not aggressive enough for the 1st pass but it'd work eventually.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How bad is it? Post up a pic when you can, it should help narrow down the advice.

 

I have done a handful of plastic headlight lenses before. My advice would be to save yourself some money and don't buy a kit. Here is what I have done successfully:

 

  - wet sand first (pick your starting grit based on the amount of damage, work up through the grits from there, all the way to something very fine (at least 1000 grit, higher maybe)

         any old wet/dry paper will work, I do this part by hand also, fyi. 

 - liquid plastic polish second using a variety of pads, coarsest first, smoothest last. I typically use like a cut, polish, wax pad in that order. 

         I use either a DA polisher or a small pad on a cordless drill and Meguire's Plast-X or similar product here (which I already have on hand anyway).

 - sealant comes third and is the last step to make sure your hard work doesn't fade too quickly. 

         so far I have had good luck with this 3M product - https://www.amazon.com/3M-Quick-Headlight-Clear-39173/dp/B079QL8BYK/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=3m+headlight+sealant&qid=1580756501&sr=8-5 

   edit: this product is a wipe and includes a sanding disc (tiny) - there used to be a small bottle of sealant as a stand alone product (which I have). Not sure if they deep sixed it, I'll update later if I can find it. 

         

That said, I wouldn't characterize Vermont as a harsh sun/UV climate so your results may vary. Just like painting, this is one of those 'prep is 90% of the job' kind of jobs, quality and thorough prep will garner the best results, so patience is key. This process has worked well for me over the years and I've saved some money since the kits tend to see like overpriced, single serving nonsense... especially given that I have sandpaper, plast-x, and the tools I need on hand already anyway.  HTH!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the detail adkfinn!

Here’s what we’ve got:

image.jpg

 

Top left corner is where I tried the polish

image.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Getting there!

Did the starboard side with polish only, and started on the port with 1500 wet. I got scared seeing it turn all swirled, so I switched to polish. Not sure if I should have sanded through that, then polish. 

You can see (I think) in the second pic some of the slightly still hazy areas. 

image.jpg

image.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Keep at it Buzzner ya getting there, just need plenty of elbow grease! I remember years ago polishing plastic watch faces. Used the 1500 wet and dry which gives you the scary frosted effect to get the main scratches out, then I would do a lot of polishing off with an old product called Brasso (metal polish). Eventually came up like glass.

 

114785.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Grum said:

Keep at it Buzzner ya getting there, just need plenty of elbow grease! I remember years ago polishing plastic watch faces. Used the 1500 wet and dry which gives you the scary frosted effect to get the main scratches out, then I would do a lot of polishing off with an old product called Brasso (metal polish). Eventually came up like glass.

 

 

How about Bon Ami? (Going with stuff on hand) Likely not as aggressive as the plastic polish, but was recommended a few years ago to get car windscreens smooth for quieter wiper operation...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, adkfinn said:

 

 - sealant comes third and is the last step to make sure your hard work doesn't fade too quickly. 

         so far I have had good luck with this 3M product - https://www.amazon.com/3M-Quick-Headlight-Clear-39173/dp/B079QL8BYK/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=3m+headlight+sealant&qid=1580756501&sr=8-5 

   edit: this product is a wipe and includes a sanding disc (tiny) - there used to be a small bottle of sealant as a stand alone product (which I have). Not sure if they deep sixed it, I'll update later if I can find it. 

         

Thanks, I just ordered this. Sounds like it is 2 wipes designed for two car headlights. Maybe I'll hit my personal headlight with the 3000 grit and the second wipe. It's actually in really good shape, but maybe it will help it last even longer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll second what Grum said - You have to choose a grit that will get the deepest scratches/damage out that the lens has already incurred, then work your way back to smooth with subsequent grits then polish. The scratched frosted look is scary when you start and are in the middle of the process, but it will come back nicely as you work your way through. 

 

I haven't used Brasso but I have seen it suggested elsewhere also, fwiw. 

 

Kevin - Based on your close up progress pic, I think you need to jump back to sanding and get those scratches out, then bring the entire surface back to polished. Also - I wouldn't suggest you sand your light if it doesn't have scratches/need it. You could hit it with cutting compound if you have it, then polish. I would only go as coarse as necessary to remove imperfections, no further. The end result should be the same, it will only take you longer to get there. 

 

edit - this is a good prompt to get my spare light out and get going on my clean up and retrofit. I am still thinking I'll go with bi-xenon projectors, the newer led projectors don't seem to be ready for prime time yet to me. Are you considering any mods while you are working on the headlight?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/4/2020 at 9:09 AM, adkfinn said:

I'll second what Grum said - You have to choose a grit that will get the deepest scratches/damage out that the lens has already incurred, then work your way back to smooth with subsequent grits then polish. The scratched frosted look is scary when you start and are in the middle of the process, but it will come back nicely as you work your way through. 

 

I haven't used Brasso but I have seen it suggested elsewhere also, fwiw. 

 

Kevin - Based on your close up progress pic, I think you need to jump back to sanding and get those scratches out, then bring the entire surface back to polished. Also - I wouldn't suggest you sand your light if it doesn't have scratches/need it. You could hit it with cutting compound if you have it, then polish. I would only go as coarse as necessary to remove imperfections, no further. The end result should be the same, it will only take you longer to get there. 

 

edit - this is a good prompt to get my spare light out and get going on my clean up and retrofit. I am still thinking I'll go with bi-xenon projectors, the newer led projectors don't seem to be ready for prime time yet to me. Are you considering any mods while you are working on the headlight?

I could try sanding again, but I’d hesitate to go more coarse than 1500. I read an Amazon review on that 3M sealer that said on his car lights he started with 800, then 1000, then 1500, 2000 and finally the 3000 that came with the sealer. 800 seems harsh to me, but I don’t know much anyway😄

I tried some more pics today after More polishing. Don’t know if they turn out well enough. So much better than they were, but I’ curious to see how good I can get it. What’s better than someone else’s stuff to experiment?😆

image.jpg

image.jpg

image.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While contemplating improving my '08 Civic headlights I came across this on the Ytube:

 

While I have yet to do this, the explanation is convincing and seems fairly easy. Luckily, my fifth gen headlights are still clear, probably because they are garage-kept.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i used the Meguiars kit on my 2000 civic.. worked great comes with multi grit pads and a pack of liquid to  hard clear coat the final finish.:fing02:

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Job done! I'll reserve final judgement until the morning when it is completely dry, but it looks great at the moment! I did a combination of most of the above; Mainly polishing with light plastic polish, and some sanding with 1500 grit, finally finishing off with the 3M sealer/clear coat after the included 3000 grit pad.

I guess the biggest thing I didn't understand was that I didn't need to finish it completely clear and polished before clear coating. The Chris Fix video from MaxSwell and also the 3M instructions both left it clouded over. So that was not my original intent.

I'm leaving it alone until tomorrow, so I'll see what it looks like then.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If I may offer a few critiques on the video posted above from a bodywork standpoint..

1. It's not a good idea to skip more than 1 grit. Going from 600 to 2000 is a big difference. Sanding creates a valley and ridge pattern, the next grit knocks the ridges down but doesn't get the valleys. With the right grit, you slowly approach the valleys. If you skip too much grit, you're hardly impacting the ridges but leaving deep valleys. This will impact the light diffusion in the final product.

 

2. I'd use a 2k clear coat. That evaporative cure stuff doesn't have staying power. It'll flake right off and come off in the rain. Spraymax makes a rattle can 2k. Press a button in the bottom and it'll release a hardener. This will create a durable, solvent resistant clear coat that will last quite a long time.

 

3. Just not a fan of the swirling sanding motion. If you can, get blocks from an auto store too, your hands are the worst sanding blocks.

 

4. Don't wax for probably a week after clear coating. You need to allow for off gassing. It's also funny he said you wouldn't need wax at the start then waxes it at the end.

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here are the pics I took yesterday afternoon and I just checked this morning after fully drying, and then some. They look the same now. The sealer/clear coat fills in all the sanding cloudiness and dries clear. The same thing happens with water or alcohol, but of course dries cloudy again, so I was skeptical. Of course you can tell it’s not brand new, but really you’d have to look closely. Considering where it started, I’m beyond thrilled!

2CDD23CF-FAA4-4160-AA1C-A07EE88BB01E.jpeg

2763BDD4-19C7-423F-A491-4FEB03CA4C76.jpeg

73648BEB-F741-4D35-9477-8FAFCD19379E.jpeg

  • Like 6

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice job Kevin

 

Sorry I'm late to the party... I use 1000 & 1500 wet and then buff with (buffing) compound on a foam pad when I restore lenses here. I use a soft rubber block to back the paper when sanding. It's really similar to restoring & maintaining a painted surface. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy.