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jdnet

How To Restore Your Headlights

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Hey guys,

Thought I'd make this post for anyone interested in restoring their headlight covers. After Looking around for a headlight restore kit and not bieng able to find one locally I decided to do it myself. Now while this will help restore the surface, it will not help if your lights are leaking and you have yellowing on the inside. If this is the case you will have to take the cover apart (you will need an oven for this) and then do the inside the same way.

Here's what you need

1. wet/dry sand paper one sheet each of 1000 grit (if the covers are reall bad you can substitute it with 800 grit), 1500 grit, 2000 grit

2. Sanding block

This will make your life easier and give an even sanding. If you don't have one just take a wooden block and wrap the sand paper around it.

3. Rubbing compound

3m costs like 1450 and there are a few other brands that will work just fine. Just don't get the loose stuff in a tine. It's a bit too abrasive.

4. Masking tape

5. clear coat spray can

This is optional. If you want to make the work last a really long time I recommend spraying your lights with clear coat. If you don't care or are lazy like I am just use a uv protectant every week or so.

So here's how we start.

1. cover the area around the light with masking tape to protect the paint. If you want you can also just remove your lights and restore them off the car.

2. Take out the 1000 grit sand paper and place it around the block. Make sure you keep all the sand paper clean and wet through out the restoration process.

Start sanding down you have an even layer without any deep scratches. You will see a froth forming on the headlight and you should not be alarmed. This is merely the top residue from the top layer bieng sanded down. Clean your light cover with a wet rag between sandings.

SNC00025.jpg

3. Once you have sanded it down and you have an even layer that looks like frosted glass, start using the 1500 grit paper. Use the same process as step 2. You will notice less scratches and if step one was done right you should not have many deep scratches. Make sure you keep the sand paper wet during sanding and clean the light every now and again. Once you have a nice even surface move on to step 4.

4. Now use the same sanding process as before using your 2000 grit paper. You will start to n otice the inside of your light is not more visible than before. Make sure you get a nice even surface with the inside of the light fairly visible.

SNC00028.jpg

5. Wash down the light by pouring some water to make sure it's nice and clean. Take the rubbing compound onto a cloth (preferably micro fiber). Then start polishing your healight with it until it becomes crystal clear. This is the final step and had you done the previous steps correctly you should have a good end result.

SNC00030.jpg

6. This step is optional. Spray an even coat of clear onto the light. and let it dry. If you don't want to go as far as painting just use some son of a gun or other protectant on the light.

I will upload the pictures later today. My internet connection is slow right now.

Edited by jdnet

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Machang, can the sanding process create hairline fractures in the lights? I was looking for a way to clear my lights and when I learnt that bit of info I was a bit hesitant. Cause if something happens to my lights, replacing them is gonna be difficult since I don't think I can buy them here.

I tried the toothpaste and Brasso method but that didn't seem to do anything, except now that I have minty fresh lights... :D

Good post btw.

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Hey guys,

Thought I'd make this post for anyone interested in restoring their headlight covers. After Looking around for a headlight restore kit and not bieng able to find one locally I decided to do it myself. Now while this will help restore the surface, it will not help if your lights are leaking and you have yellowing on the inside. If this is the case you will have to take the cover apart (you will need an oven for this) and then do the inside the same way.

Here's what you need

1. wet/dry sand paper one sheet each of 1000 grit (if the covers are reall bad you can substitute it with 800 grit), 1500 grit, 2000 grit

2. Sanding block

This will make your life easier and give an even sanding. If you don't have one just take a wooden block and wrap the sand paper around it.

3. Rubbing compound

3m costs like 1450 and there are a few other brands that will work just fine. Just don't get the loose stuff in a tine. It's a bit too abrasive.

4. Masking tape

5. clear coat spray can

This is optional. If you want to make the work last a really long time I recommend spraying your lights with clear coat. If you don't care or are lazy like I am just use a uv protectant every week or so.

So here's how we start.

1. cover the area around the light with masking tape to protect the paint. If you want you can also just remove your lights and restore them off the car.

2. Take out the 1000 grit sand paper and place it around the block. Make sure you keep all the sand paper clean and wet through out the restoration process.

Start sanding down you have an even layer without any deep scratches. You will see a froth forming on the headlight and you should not be alarmed. This is merely the top residue from the top layer bieng sanded down. Clean your light cover with a wet rag between sandings.

3. Once you have sanded it down and you have an even layer that looks like frosted glass, start using the 1500 grit paper. Use the same process as step 2. You will notice less scratches and if step one was done right you should not have many deep scratches. Make sure you keep the sand paper wet during sanding and clean the light every now and again. Once you have a nice even surface move on to step 4.

4. Now use the same sanding process as before using your 2000 grit paper. You will start to n otice the inside of your light is not more visible than before. Make sure you get a nice even surface with the inside of the light fairly visible.

5. Wash down the light by pouring some water to make sure it's nice and clean. Take the rubbing compound onto a cloth (preferably micro fiber). Then start polishing your healight with it until it becomes crystal clear. This is the final step and had you done the previous steps correctly you should have a good end result.

6. This step is optional. Spray an even coat of clear onto the light. and let it dry. If you don't want to go as far as painting just use some son of a gun or other protectant on the light.

I will upload the pictures later today. My internet connection is slow right now.

Thanks for this info. Nicely written too.

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Machang, can the sanding process create hairline fractures in the lights? I was looking for a way to clear my lights and when I learnt that bit of info I was a bit hesitant.

Never really experienced that problem and i've done quite a few lights. It all depends on how much force you apply to it.

Edited by jdnet

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Machan.. Thanks for the detailed post, but you can find lot of such articles on the internet about restoring headlights from outsde. But no one seem to know or no one seem to care about how to remove durt and road grim from inside of a headlight.

Edited by Corolla121

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Great post jdnet. :action-smiley-035: I have seen similar stuff on the web before but haven't tried the sand paper technique. Tried tooth paste with minor success but not satisfied. Will be experimenting with this as the week end project :)

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Great post jdnet. :action-smiley-035: I have seen similar stuff on the web before but haven't tried the sand paper technique. Tried tooth paste with minor success but not satisfied. Will be experimenting with this as the week end project :)

I would say that the toothpaste acts as a cheap rubbing compound. Although it would not work well if your lights were yellow. I know there's a quite a few how to's on this topic lying around the web but thought I'd give write it anyway since I was bored.

If any one needs a how-to on prepping a used car for sale using less than 2000 rupees let me know. I could write up detailed guide.

Edited by jdnet

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Great post jdnet. :action-smiley-035: I have seen similar stuff on the web before but haven't tried the sand paper technique. Tried tooth paste with minor success but not satisfied. Will be experimenting with this as the week end project :)

Great post. I've seen even detailing shops using similar technique even on clear coat paint, so I don't think it creates hairline scratches either. Cleaning the headlight from a inside involves more work. You need to 'bake' the headlight to a certain temperate to separate the front plastic from the rest of the case. And when you put it together you have to make sure you put it back and properly and seal it with a good adhesive - otherwise water will get inside. Or if you just have dust, I think you can pull out the electrically and wash it with shampoo without taking it apart.

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great post, jdnet. frankly i don't see what corolla 121 is on about. thanks for posting this. he didn't. you did. its easy to sit there and hate once someone stood up to represent. this is a very helpful post, specially (like me) if you've got one light that's faded, and one in pristine condition. most restoration places get their knickers in a twist when i ask them to clean only one. (naa sir, dekatama 3,000, habai ekak 1,500 walata baa) lol

any other tips on restoration of dashboards/leather etc will be appreciated.

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any other tips on restoration of dashboards/leather etc will be appreciated.

Going to restore the dashboard and do a full detail on my car tomorow. I will post a write up with everything if you are interested. Im talking about restoring the color here not painting.

As for the leather, In the U.S I used a magic eraser which is like a white sponge and is supposed to contain melamine. It's not really designed for automotive use but I found out through a couple of guys who did it and tried it myself. It did wonders on my leather seats. Not sure If a similar product is available here tough.

Edited by jdnet

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Great post. I've seen even detailing shops using similar technique even on clear coat paint, so I don't think it creates hairline scratches either. Cleaning the headlight from a inside involves more work. You need to 'bake' the headlight to a certain temperate to separate the front plastic from the rest of the case. And when you put it together you have to make sure you put it back and properly and seal it with a good adhesive - otherwise water will get inside. Or if you just have dust, I think you can pull out the electrically and wash it with shampoo without taking it apart.

I've done the insides a few times but my oven's broken right now so I can't really post an indepth write up with pictures. For anyone attempting this, be real careful and make sure you atleast have access to a replacement if you really mess up and destroy the lenses. I would not attempt this if you don't have the patince.

Madmax I believe the temp I used was 250 F and can't remember how long exactly but I think it was like 10-15 mins. It's been a while. I think I have it in my notes somewhere in the computer. It's relative to the light you are workin on though. Sometimes you may have to bake it longer or sometimes less.

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I've done the insides a few times but my oven's broken right now so I can't really post an indepth write up with pictures. For anyone attempting this, be real careful and make sure you atleast have access to a replacement if you really mess up and destroy the lenses. I would not attempt this if you don't have the patince.

Madmax I believe the temp I used was 250 F and can't remember how long exactly but I think it was like 10-15 mins. It's been a while. I think I have it in my notes somewhere in the computer. It's relative to the light you are workin on though. Sometimes you may have to bake it longer or sometimes less.

yeah jd, every article ive read on the net involved this baking method. but to my surprise, the guy in the garage used a heat gun (something like a hair dryer) when i got this done. not sure of the temperatures machan but at least for me it 'felt' so much safer than putting the headlight inside an oven and keeping the fingers crossed that it wont get cooked. in the former way you can clearly see whats going on around and also can try prying them apart at your leisure to check whether the glue is melted. the guy used the same method to fix them back again and applied another thin coat of adhesive along the edge.

btw great write up machan, thanks a lot and keep it up!

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Going to restore the dashboard and do a full detail on my car tomorow. I will post a write up with everything if you are interested. Im talking about restoring the color here not painting.

That would be great. I'm not much of DIYer meself, but it's better to do these things yourself than have some inept baas break something in your car the moment you look away.

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Awesome post jdnet, great stuff!

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Awesome post jdnet, great stuff!

Absoloutly!...It's refreshing to see these kinda posts(no matter how trivial it may seem to some)amid the other crap...and JD is rapidly building himself a reputation to be autolanka's resident DIY guru. :)

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Great post. I've seen even detailing shops using similar technique even on clear coat paint, so I don't think it creates hairline scratches either.

Yep I used the same process to tint the tail lights on my previous car. Basically you have to use the nite shade then clear coat and the rest is exactly the same. The tails did come out looking really nice and shiny.

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Hi Jd Net

thanks for sharing an valuable info and one of a useful thread among unnecessary

topics and discussion that AL had last few weeks :) cool ... stuff

thanks

regards

sumith

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Absoloutly!...It's refreshing to see these kinda posts(no matter how trivial it may seem to some)amid the other crap...and JD is rapidly building himself a reputation to be autolanka's resident DIY guru. :)

I tried knocking harshan off his Peugeot guru seat but it didn't work. I'm afrai I will be on the DIY seat till I actually buy a peugeot.

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Hey guys,

Thought I'd make this post for anyone interested in restoring their headlight covers. After Looking around for a headlight restore kit and not bieng able to find one locally I decided to do it myself. Now while this will help restore the surface, it will not help if your lights are leaking and you have yellowing on the inside. If this is the case you will have to take the cover apart (you will need an oven for this) and then do the inside the same way.

Here's what you need

1. wet/dry sand paper one sheet each of 1000 grit (if the covers are reall bad you can substitute it with 800 grit), 1500 grit, 2000 grit

2. Sanding block

This will make your life easier and give an even sanding. If you don't have one just take a wooden block and wrap the sand paper around it.

3. Rubbing compound

3m costs like 1450 and there are a few other brands that will work just fine. Just don't get the loose stuff in a tine. It's a bit too abrasive.

4. Masking tape

5. clear coat spray can

This is optional. If you want to make the work last a really long time I recommend spraying your lights with clear coat. If you don't care or are lazy like I am just use a uv protectant every week or so.

So here's how we start.

1. cover the area around the light with masking tape to protect the paint. If you want you can also just remove your lights and restore them off the car.

2. Take out the 1000 grit sand paper and place it around the block. Make sure you keep all the sand paper clean and wet through out the restoration process.

Start sanding down you have an even layer without any deep scratches. You will see a froth forming on the headlight and you should not be alarmed. This is merely the top residue from the top layer bieng sanded down. Clean your light cover with a wet rag between sandings.

SNC00025.jpg

3. Once you have sanded it down and you have an even layer that looks like frosted glass, start using the 1500 grit paper. Use the same process as step 2. You will notice less scratches and if step one was done right you should not have many deep scratches. Make sure you keep the sand paper wet during sanding and clean the light every now and again. Once you have a nice even surface move on to step 4.

4. Now use the same sanding process as before using your 2000 grit paper. You will start to n otice the inside of your light is not more visible than before. Make sure you get a nice even surface with the inside of the light fairly visible.

SNC00028.jpg

5. Wash down the light by pouring some water to make sure it's nice and clean. Take the rubbing compound onto a cloth (preferably micro fiber). Then start polishing your healight with it until it becomes crystal clear. This is the final step and had you done the previous steps correctly you should have a good end result.

SNC00030.jpg

6. This step is optional. Spray an even coat of clear onto the light. and let it dry. If you don't want to go as far as painting just use some son of a gun or other protectant on the light.

I will upload the pictures later today. My internet connection is slow right now.

nice and helpful post jdnet thanks bro........

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Machan.. Thanks for the detailed post, but you can find lot of such articles on the internet about restoring headlights from outsde. But no one seem to know or no one seem to care about how to remove durt and road grim from inside of a headlight.

First off, if you have road grime inside your light, you have more issues than a fogged up lens; they're supposed to be sealed, lol

either way, if you want to take yours apart for any reason here's the way you do it....

You actually have to put your headlight in the oven; yes you heard me right, OVEN! Some people have messed up and melted the plastic but if you get the temp just right and don't overheat it, it will get the glue to soften up just enough that you can pry the headlight apart. Clean up inside, paint it if you want, put some RTV around the seal and put it back together ... http://www.fbodyonline.com/forum/f26/whistler-headlight-mod-98-02-camaro-3541/

Edited by Mean Green z28

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after going through this post i have managed to wipe out the yellowish color by myself :)

before :

post-46870-022725900 1297674377_thumb.jp

after :

post-46870-063210100 1297674386_thumb.jp

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after going through this post i have managed to wipe out the yellowish color by myself :)

before :

post-46870-022725900 1297674377_thumb.jp

after :

post-46870-063210100 1297674386_thumb.jp

interesting. out of curiosity, have you buffed it enough with rubbing compound? I feel like you could've made it more clear than its showing in the pic. May be the picture quality?

Attached are some of before after pics of the 406.

before (LH) post-54-082845000 1297676713_thumb.jpg

After (RH)post-54-023919100 1297676779_thumb.jpg

comparison, RH was done and LH was yet to do. post-54-098871900 1297676936_thumb.jpg

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interesting. out of curiosity, have you buffed it enough with rubbing compound? I feel like you could've made it more clear than its showing in the pic. May be the picture quality?

I think it needs a little more polishing. You can actually notice the areas he missed pretty well on the right side of the picture.

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I think it needs a little more polishing. You can actually notice the areas he missed pretty well on the right side of the picture.

yeah and should also focus not to overdo this as buffing excessively can make the lens thinner and there's a tendacy of develop hairline cracks on it. Best is to buff it better and apply a thermal clear coat for long last finish.

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interesting. out of curiosity, have you buffed it enough with rubbing compound? I feel like you could've made it more clear than its showing in the pic. May be the picture quality?

Attached are some of before after pics of the 406.

before (LH) post-54-082845000 1297676713_thumb.jpg

After (RH)post-54-023919100 1297676779_thumb.jpg

comparison, RH was done and LH was yet to do. post-54-098871900 1297676936_thumb.jpg

i guess so :) have to try once

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