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Headlight Restoration


BigRondo

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How To: Headlight Restoration

I have tried many different products to restore the plastic headlights. Nothing really worked well. There are many good threads/posts here read over many times. Thanks to everyone for posting and answering my questions. My buddy asked me about restoring the headlights on his 2001 minivan. I ended up using the 3M Headlight Restoration System. I picked it up at AutoZone for $20.

Be sure to check out my other write-ups:

How To: Replace Blend Door Actuator in 3rd Gen Ex

How To: Remove/Replace 3rd Gen Door Panel

How To: Install Signal Mirrors On 3rd Gen Ex

How To: Replace Multifunction Switch in 3rd Gen Ex

How To: Paint Rear Pillar Trim

How To: Replace 3rd Gen Ambient Air Temperature Sensor

How To: Test a Relay

How To: Remove/Replace 3rd Gen Center Console






It comes with the following:
6 - 500 Grit Sanding Pads
4 - 800 Grit Sanding Pads
1 - 3000 Grit Wet Sanding Pad
1 - Foam Buffing Pad
1 - Backing Plate
1 - Pack of Rubbing Compund

In addition to the kit you will need the following:
Painter's Tape - to mask off the area to prevent sanding surrounding areas
Spray Bottle filled with ordinary water
Drill (1200-1600 RPM), I used my Dewalt cordless drill set on 2

The kit has excellent instructions so I won't bore you the details. Basically you sand the "damaged" layer off and buff it to a shine. Now on to the results:

Here is the before shots:



The sanding process:



After using the three 500 grit pads:



After using the two 800 grit pads:



After using the 3000 grit wet pad:



After using the rubbing compound, the finish product:



The headlights look like new. We polished the lights when we were done to help protect against UV rays. I told my buddy to polish the headlights every time he washes the minivan. This kit might be the best $20 I ever spent on detailing!!
 


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FloridaState

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I need to get that. I bought some cheapy Turtle Wax kit for like $5 last month when I clay-bar'd my X, but the headlights are starting to fog up again.

Headed back home in August for a few weeks, I'll try and give it a whirl!

Thanks for the all the info.
 




BigRondo

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It's absolutely amazing how good this works. I have used all the cheap kits too. This is the real deal. - Rondo
 




Flounder

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Great results!
 




BigRondo

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BigRondo

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Round Two!

Another buddy of mine saw how the minivan came out and wanted me to do his wife's '02 Jeep. These were real bad and required 1 kit per light. $40 vs the $300+ they were quoted to replace the lights, not bad! Here are the results:

Before:





After:



 




GRNMACHINE

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Unbelievable! Makes me want to return the Meg's kit.
 




BigRondo

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Unbelievable! Makes me want to return the Meg's kit.

It's incredible. Comes with detailed instructions. Follow the instructions and you will be good to go!!
 




Maniak

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For those that need to do this fast (headlight restoration) I used the meguiars plastx last night. I needed to do it quickly last night so Yolanda could use the honda today.. I spend 2 minutes per side.. Here is a pic after I finished the 1st light..

I don't know how long it will last but it worked better than I expected. Now we'll see how long it actually lasts..



~Mark
 




BigRondo

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For those that need to do this fast (headlight restoration) I used the meguiars plastx last night. I needed to do it quickly last night so Yolanda could use the honda today.. I spend 2 minutes per side.. Here is a pic after I finished the 1st light..

I don't know how long it will last but it worked better than I expected. Now we'll see how long it actually lasts..

~Mark

Wow, that came out great! :biggthump Did you have to apply a lot pf pressure? Keep us posted on how long it lasts.
 




Maniak

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Wasn't that much pressure. I used my right hand which I can't put lots of pressure with (wrist has a screw in it). I only spent about 2 minutes per side.. Was rub on, wipe off.. and that was it.

I'll report back when I need to do it again as that is the Daily driver..

~Mark
 




Joe Dirt

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Nice work! I've been using 3M Finish Restorer for a while, but the PlastX is as good- nice quick way to do it without sandpaper, although the sandpaper kits can get more of the pits out.

Whatever you use, be sure to keep them protected as the stuff you scuffed off was the old UV protectant layer, so they will fog/yellow much quicker than before. I'd toss some on at least once a month. On my SHO's I did it every other wash just to be safe...

Nice work! :thumbsup:
 




Scott B.

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Regarding protection, I just installed Clear Mask on the lights on my '06. It is a plastic film, designed to protect the lights from getting chipped and cracked.

Installation was straightforward.

While it will protect the lenses from getting cracked from stones, I don't know what it will do in regards to fogging. We shall see.
 




BigRondo

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Regarding protection, I just installed Clear Mask on the lights on my '06. It is a plastic film, designed to protect the lights from getting chipped and cracked.

Installation was straightforward.

While it will protect the lenses from getting cracked from stones, I don't know what it will do in regards to fogging. We shall see.

Scott, Clear Mask appears to be unavailable in my area. Where did you get yours? Did you get a headlight kit or get it in sheets and cut it yourself?

Thanks, Rondo
 




Scott B.

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Scott, Clear Mask appears to be unavailable in my area. Where did you get yours? Did you get a headlight kit or get it in sheets and cut it yourself?

Thanks, Rondo

Click on the link - I ordered from them directly.

I got a headlight kit - 2 each of headlights, corners and fog lights.
 




jake122288

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I've used it before on plastic...but not the glass... i'll have to read into that!


and whoops i posted on the wrong thread!!! hahahah so i'll change this.... does anyone know if it would work on an all glass lense of my aux lights?
 




Anime

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From what I've read, the plastic protective film, of any brand, is bad to use as a headlight lens protector since it insulates the plastic lens, preventing the airflow from cooling it directly, and eventually causes multiple hairline cracks throughout the lens surface. This appears to have happened on everything from economy cars to high end exotic rides.

I would think it wouldn't do the same on glass, but it still might, or at least have some insulating effect and might cause the lamp assembly itself to get hotter than usual, especially on fog lights where the lens is the only part exposed to airflow.

At this point I've decided against any protective film, it seems more hassle than it's worth, especially for the cost and possibilities of surface damage. Better protection for headlights would probably be clear plastic covers. They are now rather inexpensive too since the trend of smoke colored ones and the clear ones to be painted seems to have gone.
 




FIND

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Don't you guys clearcoat headlights or add a UV coating after you restore them? It would make the restoration last longer, they come from the factory with a scratch resistant UV coating on the outside of the lens.
 




OneLever

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Thank you BigRondo for the product review. I used it in making my decision of what to use a few months ago and I can't help but share my results. Mainly because it looks so much better!

Before:


After:


I did not use any type of sealant to replace the UV protection coat that is sanded off. It has been four months and the lenses are still clear and not discolored. I did however look into UV protection coating quite a bit before I did this and came upon this thread. If you read through the whole thing you'll find a good deal of info. The main idea is to use Helmsman Spar Urethane as a coating mixed with mineral spirits as a solvent to apply it after you are done wet sanding and polishing the lenses.
 


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