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Restoring Headlights....

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Old 05-18-2012, 02:30 PM   #1
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Default Restoring Headlights....

Hi guys, I'm going to do the Whistler Mod this weekend and I have found a wealth of info on here about that. My problem is that my headlights are really clouded and scratched up which I know is a common prob with the 4th gens. The threads I've found on here didn't address how to polish up the housing themselves.. I could 've swore I seen one like that on here some time ago. Can someone help guide me in the right direction. Thanks.


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Old 05-18-2012, 04:16 PM   #2
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I don't have an official write-up handy, but I've done this job in the past on mine. Wet sanding is required, I usually do progressive steps starting with 1000 grit, then 1500, then 2000 (and sometimes 2500 when I can find it). Once this is done, I'll finish up with a two-step 3M system of plastic cleaner and polish. Then finally, a coat of wax. I keep them waxed regularly to prolong restoration intervals. For touch-ups I'll sometimes use glass polish or metal polish rather than wet sanding, then finishing up with the same 3M products and more wax.

Some people clear coat them once restored, to prevent future hazing. One day I'll have to try doing that with a spare set or something, to make sure I can do a good job.
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Old 05-19-2012, 10:27 AM   #3
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I don't have an official write-up handy, but I've done this job in the past on mine. Wet sanding is required, I usually do progressive steps starting with 1000 grit, then 1500, then 2000 (and sometimes 2500 when I can find it). Once this is done, I'll finish up with a two-step 3M system of plastic cleaner and polish. Then finally, a coat of wax. I keep them waxed regularly to prolong restoration intervals. For touch-ups I'll sometimes use glass polish or metal polish rather than wet sanding, then finishing up with the same 3M products and more wax.

Some people clear coat them once restored, to prevent future hazing. One day I'll have to try doing that with a spare set or something, to make sure I can do a good job.
OK. I'm gonna give this a try. I will prolly sub Meguires Plast-X for the 3m though cos I already have a tube handy. How bad were yours to begin with??? I ask cos mine are really crappy to the point where I'm not sure if they can be salvaged. I figured it's worth the try though if if doesn't work I'm just gonna buy a new set with the whistler mod already done...

Just got back from the auto store. I was able to get 1000, 1500 & 2000 grit- didn't have 2500. Had another question though- do you disassemble the headlights and sand the inside & out or just do the outside?? I haven't taken them apart yet so don't know if the inside is hazed too....
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Old 05-19-2012, 03:48 PM   #4
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OK. I'm gonna give this a try. I will prolly sub Meguires Plast-X for the 3m though cos I already have a tube handy. How bad were yours to begin with??? I ask cos mine are really crappy to the point where I'm not sure if they can be salvaged. I figured it's worth the try though if if doesn't work I'm just gonna buy a new set with the whistler mod already done...

Just got back from the auto store. I was able to get 1000, 1500 & 2000 grit- didn't have 2500. Had another question though- do you disassemble the headlights and sand the inside & out or just do the outside?? I haven't taken them apart yet so don't know if the inside is hazed too....
I never let mine get really bad. I've done the whole wet sanding process on them 2 or 3 times over the years, and I know that at least once I skipped the 2500 grit and it was ok. But I used that 3M system to finish them up, so I'm not sure how they will look with the Plast-X as I have never used it (but Meguires products have always been good in my experience). I always alternate directions between each grit of sand paper (up-and-down with one grit, then side-to-side with the next, etc.)

I've also done a few more minor restorations on them, using the glass and metal polish (which is less abrasive than wet sanding, but abrasive enough that you'll need to re-polish them afterward). This will only work in the very early stages of hazing though.

I've seen some that are so bad that they're almost pure yellow. If this is how yours are, it would take a lot of work to bring them back.

I've never needed to do the inside. All the hazing/discoloring has always been on the outside with mine. Once the outside was restored, they looked great again.
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Old 05-19-2012, 04:45 PM   #5
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I would reshoot some clear on them so you dont have to do it for some time, i also found it easier to grind the tabs off the headlights it makes polishing and sanding alot easier
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Old 05-20-2012, 09:51 PM   #6
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I would reshoot some clear on them so you dont have to do it for some time, i also found it easier to grind the tabs off the headlights it makes polishing and sanding alot easier
Yes, you can grind the tabs off and it makes polishing go alot smoother.
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Old 05-21-2012, 11:33 AM   #7
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RPM is definitely right about having to wetsand them down the polish em up. I'd seal them with something a little more durable though - look at opti coat or cquartz for that imo.

Did mine over two years ago and they still look fantastic. (They're opti-coated)
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Old 05-22-2012, 06:54 AM   #8
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i finished my front end replace and wet sanded at my friends body shop and hit them with sherwin/williams clear and was done with it. he says it lasts for a couple years . it's been 6 months and all i've done is clean them .he does this to customers cars all the time with great results . find a body shop in your area ,have them preped and ready to shoot and they can work them in .a lot of shops do this it's part of doing business and making a little money on the side. good luck... the oldman........
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Old 05-26-2012, 07:52 PM   #9
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I've seen some that are so bad that they're almost pure yellow. If this is how yours are, it would take a lot of work to bring them back

This is how mine are! I spent the whole afternoon wet sanding and the results are nothing to speak of. Pretty bummed out, but I was gonna see if I could perhaps take a step down in sand paper to an 800 or 900 grit perhaps?? It just doesn't feel like the 1000 grit is going to go deep enough to get the rash out. I also love the idea of grinding those stupid tabs off!! Those things are making my life hard right now...
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Old 05-31-2012, 10:34 PM   #10
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Here is something i wrote up in 07 the first time i did it

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Old 05-31-2012, 11:41 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by shakermaker05 View Post
I've seen some that are so bad that they're almost pure yellow. If this is how yours are, it would take a lot of work to bring them back

This is how mine are! I spent the whole afternoon wet sanding and the results are nothing to speak of. Pretty bummed out, but I was gonna see if I could perhaps take a step down in sand paper to an 800 or 900 grit perhaps?? It just doesn't feel like the 1000 grit is going to go deep enough to get the rash out. I also love the idea of grinding those stupid tabs off!! Those things are making my life hard right now...
Scratch em' up bro! Wet-sand 600 then 900 then 1000 1500 the polish it out. Trying to sand through severely tainted headlights with 1000 will take a long time and your going to get TIRED. Let the sand paper do the work.

Go ahead and get rid of the tabs too it will make the polishing so easier on you.

Also, your going to need to clear them or use something like Opti-seal or they will just haze over again.
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Old 06-07-2012, 12:12 AM   #12
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I've seen some that are so bad that they're almost pure yellow. If this is how yours are, it would take a lot of work to bring them back

This is how mine are! I spent the whole afternoon wet sanding and the results are nothing to speak of. Pretty bummed out, but I was gonna see if I could perhaps take a step down in sand paper to an 800 or 900 grit perhaps?? It just doesn't feel like the 1000 grit is going to go deep enough to get the rash out. I also love the idea of grinding those stupid tabs off!! Those things are making my life hard right now...
I started with 600 and worked up to 2500 and then polished with Mothers plastic polish and ther headlight powerball and 4 hours later looked brand new, if ther that bad it takes forever but it can be done . I was ready to buy new ones after about a hour but with no money at the time I just kept at it
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Old 06-08-2012, 05:18 PM   #13
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I work in a Good year and there is also an auto glass shop in here and they charge 40 a headlight to clean, we have found you can take your avergae brake cleaner and spray it on a rag or cloth and whipe it across the headlight one time and it does a pretty damn good job. But if you do try this make sure you only whipe it across once or the chemical well melt the headlight and it will be even worse than before haha.
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Old 06-16-2012, 11:19 PM   #14
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what do you use to grid the tabs off?
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Old 06-18-2012, 01:19 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shakermaker05 View Post
I've seen some that are so bad that they're almost pure yellow. If this is how yours are, it would take a lot of work to bring them back

This is how mine are! I spent the whole afternoon wet sanding and the results are nothing to speak of. Pretty bummed out, but I was gonna see if I could perhaps take a step down in sand paper to an 800 or 900 grit perhaps?? It just doesn't feel like the 1000 grit is going to go deep enough to get the rash out. I also love the idea of grinding those stupid tabs off!! Those things are making my life hard right now...
If yours are like mine they are messed up on the inside. I worked on mine for several hours awhile back and the outside is baby butt smoooth. They still look like crap.
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Old 06-20-2012, 01:31 PM   #16
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The more you wet sand and polish the better they will turn out. Don't clear them until your completely happy with them
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Old 06-22-2012, 01:35 AM   #17
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If yours are like mine they are messed up on the inside. I worked on mine for several hours awhile back and the outside is baby butt smoooth. They still look like crap.
I recently tried the Harbor Freight kit, $9.99 which was right next to the Meguirer kit for 24.95.

I did both my headlights and both taillights on my LS1/914 project and had one abrasive pad leftover and all four turned out great. Just be patient and follow the instructions.
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Old 06-22-2012, 02:03 AM   #18
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I have tried the 3M kit and the sylvania kit. The sylvania kit so far is the best kit. Quick pics of the outcome.

Passenger Before
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Passenger After
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Passenger Before
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Passenger After
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Old 06-22-2012, 02:03 AM
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