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View Full Version : How to "Clean Up" those scratched E36 Headlights.


mpower1226
09-26-2002, 02:14 AM
well, my headlights are pretty foggy and yellowed over years.
And Today, I decided to clean it up.
Here is what I did...

Since U.S spec headlight we use, are plastic, I thought I might be
able to wet sand it and compound it. So I did.

I went to pacific mall and grab me a set of ultra super fine sandpapers and compund for modeling use. (Which is usually for
plastic models.) from TAMIYA.

The sand paper package contains, 2000, 3000, 4000 grit fine.

Normaly, you will never find these super ultra finish sand paper at these numbers.
Also grab me a compound from same brand.

First I start up with 2000 wet sanding my headlight. and gradually go up to 3000 and finish with 4000. (4000 feels like a
paper). Now I touch the lense and feel it, really smooth...

Now I go with compound rub the hell out of headlight.

its like brand new.. now, when I touch the lense, reallly smooth,



If you cant afford new headlight or ellipsoid like me, try this method. I thought it was the inside lense that was dirty but..
no, its outside shell thats dirty.

Try, and you will be amazed.

mpower1226
09-26-2002, 04:04 AM
pic

mpower1226
09-26-2002, 04:05 AM
pic2

jello_g
09-26-2002, 11:30 AM
I restored the plastic lenses on my Mazda using 3M Imperial Wetordry sand paper, with 400-, 600-, 1000-, 1500-, 2000-grit and then following up with Meguiar's #17 (plastic cleaner) and #10 (plastic polish). Looks great but requires a lot of elbow grease. Finer grit sand paper would have saved me mucho time for sure. mpower1226, do you remember the name of the store at Pacific Mall?

openwheel
11-19-2002, 02:16 PM
I just did this on my new E36 and I have to say that I am very happy with the results. 2 1/2 hours of work but well worth it. My results were not as well as mpower1226 but I think my lights were really tough. I picked up the kit from Northstar Hobbies in Mississauga (beside the Licks on Dundas near Dixie). $18.95 not bad. The paper is not labeled but it is pretty easy to tell the grits. The compound they had was very good but a heck of a lot of work. I will post some photos when I get the clear corners and the eyebrow kit. Thank you for the information.
:idea:

Autotechnica
12-18-2002, 10:10 PM
Dave,

I used your method and it worked quite well. I could only find Taimiya grit as fine as 2000 and not 4000. I only used Meguires Scratch X and it turned out great! I think I will have to use a rougher grit frist next time to remove the really big dents and scratches.

here's a pic of the finished product...

M-ATTACK
03-16-2003, 10:50 PM
good idea

BiBimBap
04-23-2003, 01:57 AM
Instead of wet sanding and using rubbing compound - has anyone tried stuff called "PLEXUS?" I haven't used it myself - but i've seen a guy use it on a really scratched up and faded plastic shield on a truck - and it's just like new!

5style
09-02-2008, 02:57 PM
just to update:

What you need is 800 grit, 1000 and 2000, high speed buffer and maguire's polish.

1. Sand light with 800 grit. ( wet sand)
2. Sand with 1000 ( wet sand)
3. Sand with 2000 ( wet sand)

Rinse light and dry.

2. onto a fine cotton polisher pad, apply maguire's polish. Use your high rpm rotary buffer / sander with the cotton pad adaptor and polish. Run at around 1500 rpm and make sure you move fairly fast, you do not want to melt a spot and then have to start from scratch. after you finished, rinse, and repeat.

Do this about 3 times.

Last but not least, foam polisher pad. Again , maguire's car polish, and buff, this will remove any fine imperfections.

Lastly, you can apply maguire's car wax via foam disk for rotory sander / polisher, this will seal the new shine and prevent the plastic from yellowing/ dulling.

This works on ALL plastic lights and the finished result is a like NEW clear surface, not just better, but like new! I will post pics after I do my old set to prep them for sale.

maroli
09-03-2008, 09:13 AM
how about something for glass lights?

5style
09-04-2008, 09:58 AM
how about something for glass lights?

glass is not polish able, that i am aware of, all thse glass polishing products were bull, so, you have to replace.

5style
09-19-2008, 10:38 AM
For whomever is watching this thread, I have not yet buffed, I can t find my high speed buffer??

Anyways, when I do, I ll post results. Do NOT throw out your old lights, they are restore-able to like new guys, trust me!

King Luis
09-27-2008, 10:33 PM
can the same thing be done to e46 headlights?

5style
09-28-2008, 11:02 PM
can the same thing be done to e46 headlights?

sure can, i finally found out where my rotary sander/ buffer went, so when i get it back, i ll pics pics of before and afters, and you be the judge. prolly going for it tuesday.

tg07lq
11-10-2009, 08:35 PM
as old as this is, would anyone be able to confirm if pacific mall still has this kit? haha or better yet anyone willing to clean up my lights for a few bucks or beers?

344i
11-17-2009, 12:32 AM
as old as this is, would anyone be able to confirm if pacific mall still has this kit? haha or better yet anyone willing to clean up my lights for a few bucks or beers?

Its too cold to do it now. Unless the temp is 20 c or so, i can't buff them out for you since the plastic won t melt in

tg07lq
11-17-2009, 12:44 AM
ah that sucks. what if i brought you the lights separate from the car? can they be done indoors such as in a basement or heated garage?

344i
11-18-2009, 12:21 PM
ah that sucks. what if i brought you the lights separate from the car? can they be done indoors such as in a basement or heated garage?

Possibly, i ll have to check if i have the space, but yeah i don't see it being too much of a problem

nachos23
11-19-2009, 06:00 AM
NAPA and Canadian Tire sell a product from 3M I believe that is specifically designed to fix yellowed or discoloured plastic. Specifically designed for automotive uses..... check it out..... what I'm reading above sounds like a lot of work.......

hustler
11-19-2009, 10:10 AM
I used the 3M kit on my 540 and it worked great. It was about $30, goes on a drill, has 2 kinds of sandpaper, a special polishing foam, and a buffing pad with polish. It took maybe 25 minutes to do both lights, and they were pretty bad.

344i
11-19-2009, 08:49 PM
I used the 3M kit on my 540 and it worked great. It was about $30, goes on a drill, has 2 kinds of sandpaper, a special polishing foam, and a buffing pad with polish. It took maybe 25 minutes to do both lights, and they were pretty bad.

I bet you i can make them look brand new without that kit. I use a 3000 rpm buffer, alot more then a drill, and hand sand.

i do it the way dealerships refurb headlights

tg07lq
11-19-2009, 09:24 PM
how much am i looking at price wise to have you do it?

5style
11-21-2009, 01:57 PM
how much am i looking at price wise to have you do it?


Hmmm, $40 sound good? They will look brand new that i can promise you, I don't have any pics to show you though

tg07lq
11-21-2009, 02:10 PM
where abouts are you located? its clean these or get some depo's. but im interested in the lower pricetag of fixing these lol

5style
11-21-2009, 03:20 PM
where abouts are you located? its clean these or get some depo's. but im interested in the lower pricetag of fixing these lol

in mississauga

k1zzle[tt]
12-15-2009, 03:35 PM
do you still offer the headlight buffing service, if so i can toss you 40$ bucks no problem to do them. its a 2003 325i. lots of highway rocks and nicks, yellowy color i want gone.

5style
02-07-2010, 07:02 PM
;1374520']do you still offer the headlight buffing service, if so i can toss you 40$ bucks no problem to do them. its a 2003 325i. lots of highway rocks and nicks, yellowy color i want gone.

Shoot me a PM. as soon as the cold weather goes away, I can def. help you out.