How To: Paint your headlights black | Page 3 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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How To: Paint your headlights black

NHarris said:
Except its a ***** to get all the sealant off...especially since it hardens back up quickly.

Mine peeled right out. I started it with an x-acto knife. I did it right away though...

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Mine peeled right out. I started it with an x-acto knife. I did it right away though...

I made the mistake of waiting... I was a noob to cars back then...

And look how much you've grown lol

Back when I bought the X, I thought it had a similar suspension to the second gen. Then I figured out it was fully independent; then I wondered why ya'll were *****ing about it...then i figured it out... lol

Can i paint them with plasti dip or?

If you're going through all the effort to bake them apart, I'd say go for the paint instead. Yeah, the plasti is reverseable, but that would involve baking them again to remove it. Commit. Paint.

Thanks for the post NHarris

This looks like it will be fun to do. Thanks for the idea!

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:
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.
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
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 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)

(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
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.
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.
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.
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.



By doing this you have probably saved $80.00

Any questions feel free to ask.

Hope this helps,

Lol just wanted to let you know there is a person on ebay selling 02 black headlights and using your pics of your ex just wanted you to know.

Shouldn't the idea be to make the lights brighter, not dimmer?

Shouldn't the idea be to make the lights brighter, not dimmer?

From my experience, there was 0 effect on light output. Just don't paint the reflector (bowl parts) and you will be golden.

How did you do the turn signals? Same way as the headlights?

How did you do the turn signals? Same way as the headlights?

Yes, but pay careful attention as they seem to melt compared to the headlights. Mine did, I still made them black and one day the side marker cover flew off. So I bought all new lights and would have done that the first time around. For me it was just to see if I liked the all black look and I did, so buying all new was doable.

What I bought:

lol! i started with the corners first, melted them, then said to hell with the entire project. I guess ill try it again and just buy the corners:thumbsup:

Gorilla glue? Lol hmm idk how itd look with blacked out headlights and chrome corners