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How To: Paint your headlights black

NHarris

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First I would like to thank fedyfedz for giving me the advice needed for this project.
This project is done at your own risk and any damage is not my responsibility
The picture of the lights taped off belongs to fedyfedz. If there is any problem with me using the picture on this write up, please let me know.
This is a HOW TO thread on painting headlights. There aren't many pictures, but its a straight forward process.

Things you will need:
Oven
Small/large Flat head screw driver
Clear RTV sealant
Rubber Bands
Gloss Black Paint
UV resistant clear coat
paper towels
A lot of time
**************
First warm up your oven to 325 degrees. Once that is done get a metal cookie sheet and put a layer of aluminum foil down. Place your headlight on top of the aluminum foil and put in the oven checking every 5 minutes. And make sure the lens is facing up. When you reach about 10 minutes try to take the headlights apart (skip down to removing the lens).
Repeat for the other headlight
*
My headlights took about 15 minutes and they came apart fairly easy. Be careful the headlight is HOT. I got a few minor burns from holding the headlight too long. Don't let them sit too long of the will start to yellow and spider crack. Mine have some small spider cracks at the very top and bottom, but no yellowing. They aren't noticable looking at the lights.
*
TO REMOVE THE LENS
I found that the bottom right corner of the passenger side and bottom left corner of the driver side light is the best place to insert your smaller flat blade screwdriver between the housing and the lense.
Push the top of the screw driver down so it will lift up the lense. Do this in a few places being careful not to break the housing as the outer edges become quite brittle when they are hot out of the oven.
Repeat for the other headlight
*
SILICONE REMOVAL
Right after you get the lens off start scraping off the silicone. Using the smaller screwdriver or some sort of a small hook. When the silicone starts to harden up throw the light back in the oven for about 5-6 minutes to let the silicone soften and keep scraping. Try to get all of the silicone off (I didn't). After doing this to both the headlights its time to prep.
*
PREP WORK
Prep work is the most important step to getting a good product. Get some painter's tape (I found that frog tape worked good for me; left a good clean edge). Tape off the reflective part of the light (I'm going to use fedy's picture here)
IMG_1467.jpg

(Photo Credit: fedyfedz; pic from fedyfedz's registry)

The little part with all the grooves in front the high beams reflective area, I taped off incase it had something to do with the high beam performance. You can tape the headlights to any design you want.
Once that is done its time to prime
*
PRIMING
Now its time to prime. Give the headlights a light scratch with a fine grit sand paper. Just do enough so the primer has something to adhere to. Then get out the self etching primer and do a couple of light coats of primer until the whole front of the unit is covered in primer. Let it dry for at least two hours.
*
PAINTING
Time to paint. Get the gloss black paint out (I used rustoleum black paint because thats what my grille was painted with). Shake the can for several minutes and start painting. Do many light coats 5-10 minutes apart. After the entire unit is covered in black paint let it dry for approx 2-3 hours.
*
CLEAR COAT
You definately want to use a clear coat. A UV resistant one. I used the rustoleum one from Auto Zone. Only one that was in stock and said automotive formula.
Now do the same as painting giving the unit several light coats, waiting 5 minutes in between. If you see the clear coat starting to puddle in one spot then move the unit around until some of the clear coat moves on to the tape.
Let this dry for 2-3 hours.
*
FINISHING
Now that the clear coat is dry, its time to do a few finishing steps. Peel off all the tape, being careful around the edges. Clean out the refective part using rubbing alchohol (for any residue from the tape) and windshield cleaner. Then clean off the back of the lens with the windshield cleaner. Now put RTV sealant where the old silicone was (be generous as you don't want moisture in there). Now put rubber bands around the unit and let it dry (preferably overnight). About 3 hours in with the RTV sealant you can take off the rubber bands and put another layer of sealant around the outside of the unit. If you bought black corners do this around the corners too. This will provide an extra barrier against any spots you may have missed. Let that sit for about 3 hours.
*
Next, trim any excess RTV sealant and put the lights back on, and you should be good to go.

AFTER:
newheadlightsclose.jpg

newheadlights.jpg


By doing this you have probably saved $80.00

Any questions feel free to ask.

Hope this helps,
Nate
 



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alexk

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Nice write up. Im going to add this to my favorites because I might do this to my liberty in the spring to get the renegade look for my lights.
 






fedyfedz

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nice nate glad eveything worked out and x2 that you will save alot of money, and knowing that you changed the whole front end look of your truck....priceless
 






n.gardner

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Is it the same process for the turn signal lights???
 






NHarris

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Is it the same process for the turn signal lights???

Well I would think the silicone and lens are similar, so my answer would be yes it should be the same process.
 






armysoldier30263

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thanks for the write up nate and they look great man
 






NHarris

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Thanks for all the comments everyone.

For those who may ask, this doesn't effect any "lighting performance" I was out driving last night, lighting looks to be the same as before.
 






BigRondo

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Nate, I just noticed this write-up! Nice job and the lights look awesome! :thumbsup::thumbsup:
 






Black Dynomite

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Nice write up Nate, love it.

I did mine a few months back using pretty much exactly the same method although I was able to heat mine at approx 160-200F for 10 mins. The lens was hot to touch, maybe a little uncomfortable if held too long, but it definitely wasnt hot enough to burn you. Guess it depends on how cured the original adhesive is.
 






NHarris

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Nice write up Nate, love it.

I did mine a few months back using pretty much exactly the same method although I was able to heat mine at approx 160-200F for 10 mins. The lens was hot to touch, maybe a little uncomfortable if held too long, but it definitely wasnt hot enough to burn you. Guess it depends on how cured the original adhesive is.

The burn I had was really minor. Just a minute under cold water and I was fine. The old adhesive is some good stuff, but a pain to get off.
 






Maxstealth04

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Old post but will this work for the tailights also?
 












NHarris

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Agreed. The tail lights are red so unless they were clear you wouldn't notice a difference
 






Maxstealth04

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My Bad, forgot that the lens is actually red.:banghead: DUH!
 












Limited02

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I may end up doing this over the winter. The only other thought I had was using Niteshades to give it a "black chrome" look instead of straight Gloss black....

Maxstealth- A lot of people use the niteshades on their rear tail lights to get the tinted look you may be wanting. Something to look into;)
 






Maxstealth04

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nah, cops around here pull people over for that stuff
 






Cicio Bello

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What did you do for your brake lights? Anything? But it looks great...
 






Maxstealth04

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So I completed this but am wondering about the nightshade stuff. Does it go on the outside? Never done or seen it.
 



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Triton8273

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So I completed this but am wondering about the nightshade stuff. Does it go on the outside? Never done or seen it.

Night shades are those stupid things that people put on the outside of their tail lights because they think it looks cool, yet completely fail to realized that the people behind them won't see them brake :D
 






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