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View Full Version : Plastic Headlight Refinishing


mpower1226
09-26-2002, 03:14 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.


PROCEDURE (added from page 2)

1. SOAK THE SANDPAPER into a bucket of water at least 15 min prior to sanding.

2. Grab a water sprayer bottle. Put a little bit of automotive car wash soap and a lot of water.

3. now grab a sprayer on your left hand and sandpaper on your right. Start sanding and spray the mixture at the same time. Also always sand in same direction only.

4. start from lower grit say 1000. and go up to the highest grit.

5. now clean it up, then use scratchX to remove the sanding marks. The headlight must be hazed but scratchX will remove the marks so dont worry.

6. keep on doing it untill its squeeky clean and until you dont see any sanding marks.

7. now use plasticX to clean it up nicely.

Gamite
09-26-2002, 04:08 AM
Do you have any pictures? and do you mind if I copy this thread and put it in the FAQ?

mpower1226
09-26-2002, 04:23 AM
no, I didnot take pic, but I will try to take some pic tomorrow.
and yes you could put it up.

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

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

DunDan
09-26-2002, 10:44 AM
wow, mpower1226 that looks brand new. Good job

*th-up*

Autotechnica
09-26-2002, 11:55 AM
I did the same thing on my old '92 318. I water sanded it then used Scratch X to remove the scracthes and polish the lens. It looked good but I remember Meguires sells some special stuff specifically made for polishing plastic.

Hey Dave, what kind of polish did you use?

Bryan

Gamite
09-26-2002, 12:19 PM
Originally posted by MTRD
I did the same thing on my old '92 318. I water sanded it then used Scratch X to remove the scracthes and polish the lens. It looked good but I remember Meguires sells some special stuff specifically made for polishing plastic.

Hey Dave, what kind of polish did you use?

Bryan

I dont remember yours looking that good though.

jello_g
09-26-2002, 12:30 PM
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?

Autotechnica
09-26-2002, 12:41 PM
Originally posted by jello_g
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?

Those 2 Maguiars products was what I was talking about. I didn't use the proper polish so mine did not come out as good. Anyways, I think I'll try it again this year.

bryan

Gamite
09-26-2002, 01:11 PM
Originally posted by MTRD


Those 2 Maguiars products was what I was talking about. I didn't use the proper polish so mine did not come out as good. Anyways, I think I'll try it again this year.

bryan

If you get all the right products, we should do a DIY for the forum. We'll take progress pictures.

Autotechnica
09-26-2002, 02:34 PM
Originally posted by Gamite


If you get all the right products, we should do a DIY for the forum. We'll take progress pictures.

Sounds good, I'll work at it this weekend and let you know the results.

Bryan

mpower1226
09-26-2002, 02:42 PM
Trust me people, this compound I used, this is for
plastic use. It is made by TAMIYA. It comes in a small tube.
It wokrs much better then any other car brand.

A lot of AFV modeler,(aircraft), they use this technique, to
clean their air plane canopy. They start with lower grit and
go up to highest grip which is 4000. Then they rub the canopy with copmpound from TAMIYA or "Mr. COMPOUND" from GUNZE.

The canopy(air craft windsheild) are made out of plastic just like
our lenses. So I figure It will work on our cars.

Trust me, this compoud is really good

mpower1226
09-26-2002, 02:45 PM
Originally posted by jello_g
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?


There are alot of modeling stores in pacific mall. but there is
biggest one with alot of displays. They have them.

I forgot the name, they are located at the corner.
You should be able to purchase these sandpaper any modelshop

The key to the whole thing is you have to rub the compound
hard, I mean REALLY HARD.

Until, it becomes clear.

Autotechnica
09-26-2002, 02:54 PM
Originally posted by mpower1226



There are alot of modeling stores in pacific mall. but there is
biggest one with alot of displays. They have them.

I forgot the name, they are located at the corner.
You should be able to purchase these sandpaper any modelshop

The key to the whole thing is you have to rub the compound
hard, I mean REALLY HARD.

Until, it becomes clear.

I think it was called Pacific Models.

Bryan

v8chevyguy
09-11-2005, 06:18 PM
I detail headlights at used car dealerships. What I found that works is a product called CrystaLenz. You do not have to sand the lens unless the clearcoat is cracked, and if you do sand the lens then the CrystaLenz product gets out the sand scratches. This stuff really works great you can check out their website www.crystalenz.com for more info.

T.Dot_E30
09-11-2005, 09:36 PM
dude you brought back a thread thats over 3years old.

nice first post

Justin e36
09-11-2005, 10:10 PM
So what? It's a good thread... I'm glad to see new users using the search option before making reposts.

Looks like Gamite got lazy though.. 3 years and this still never made it to the FAQ section.

WhadUpp
09-11-2005, 10:23 PM
Im looking to do this myself and I believe the modeler stuff from Tamiya will work best.

mpower1226
09-13-2005, 01:22 PM
now i should update the thread.

Ever since the thread started, i see alot of ppl trying this method and other automotive companys like meguires have come up with their own product that will work best on the plastic lenses and sandpapers.

now, you could grab the unigrit sandpapers from meguires up to 3000 grit which would be best for the job. Also grab scratchX and plasticX from meguires as well.

1. SOAK THE SANDPAPER into a bucket of water at least 15 min prior to sanding.

2. Grab a water sprayer bottle. Put a little bit of automotive car wash soap and a lot of water.

3. now grab a sprayer on your left hand and sandpaper on your right. Start sanding and spray the mixture at the same time. Also always sand in same direction only.

4. start from lower grit say 1000. and go up to the highest grit.

5. now clean it up, then use scratchX to remove the sanding marks. The headlight must be hazed but scratchX will remove the marks so dont worry.

6. keep on doing it untill its squeeky clean and until you dont see any sanding marks.

7. now use plasticX to clean it up nicely.

moregothanshow
09-14-2005, 10:07 PM
flitz it?!?! hahaha j/p gonna have to try this... btw how much did all this cost?

mpower1226
09-18-2005, 09:38 PM
3m sanpaper 2000 - about $2
1500 - about $2

scratchX about 10.99
plasticX about 10 something

taxi615
09-23-2005, 11:33 AM
their is also autosole from canadian tire that works really good I do plastique and chrome with this product

moregothanshow
09-23-2005, 12:02 PM
one more question, how do u do a glass lens that is really really fogged up from the outside?!?
thx!

Gamite
09-23-2005, 01:12 PM
Pretty sure u can't do anything about glass.

If there is anything, please let me know.

Justin e36
09-23-2005, 02:47 PM
one more question, how do u do a glass lens that is really really fogged up from the outside?!?
thx!

you need a scratch remover and some elbow grease or a polisher. personally I prefer Janvil's glass scratch removal kit. (http://www.janvil.com/glass_restore.htm)

You can also go a place like Apple Autoglass to clean it up.

J

mirek
10-02-2005, 04:36 PM
should I remove the headlights off the car? or jus tleave them on?

propr'one
10-06-2005, 01:32 PM
bump headlights on the car or not?

mirek
10-07-2005, 11:21 AM
bump headlights on the car or not?

*th-up*

got some plasticX and some 1500grit paper, now to find some 2000, 3000, 4000..

mpower1226
10-07-2005, 07:45 PM
its much better to remove the headlight to do it properly. while you sand, you could just slip away the sandpaper and it might land on the fender.

take it out, only 5 screws need to be removed.

Justin e36
10-07-2005, 09:10 PM
yep, take it out for sure... I'd hate to be doing that crouched down there when I take the headlight inside and do it there instead. you'll need to take it out to do the corners properly too... although I do suppose you can mask your car if you really don't want to take the headlight out.

propr'one
10-09-2005, 08:54 PM
Im gonna try this when the car gets back form the shop, thanks guys *th-up*

mirek
10-20-2005, 04:27 PM
its much better to remove the headlight to do it properly. while you sand, you could just slip away the sandpaper and it might land on the fender.

take it out, only 5 screws need to be removed.

do i have to use the 2000,3000,4000?

1500 feels soft enoguh, especially if i'm going to be wet sanding....

btw.. can i use the sandpaper, and then plasticX on my clear corners too?

Justin e36
11-10-2005, 07:09 PM
Off topic.. just wondering why in the forum it says this topic was started by Gamite. But when you open the thread it's mpower...

V-Thang
12-08-2005, 02:56 AM
Would this method be the same if the clearcoat is peeling/cracking from the headlight? because wont sanding it down remove the clearcoat and then have to respray it with clear coat?

mpower1226
12-08-2005, 06:50 AM
do i have to use the 2000,3000,4000?

1500 feels soft enoguh, especially if i'm going to be wet sanding....

btw.. can i use the sandpaper, and then plasticX on my clear corners too?

By using higher grit papers, it would make more scratches, but scratches that are more uniform Which is much easier to take out with scratchX.

Using up to 2000 and polishing with scratchX or any scratch remover will STILL work but just need more time and effort. Using higher grit to save time.

technically 1500 will still work but with more time and effort. I suggest using up to 3000 or 2000.

mpower1226
12-08-2005, 06:51 AM
Would this method be the same if the clearcoat is peeling/cracking from the headlight? because wont sanding it down remove the clearcoat and then have to respray it with clear coat?

actually, bimmer's headlight dont have any clearcoat coating on them as far as I know. Even if there are clearcoats, this method still works.

mirek
12-08-2005, 04:06 PM
I did this, with the 1500 grit.. worked very well, i like how it turned out. definately a difference.. Thanks for the write up, well done mpower..

Manimillion
01-03-2006, 10:37 AM
On my Focus, I used a polishing compound, and a high speed buffer. It turned out pretty good in the end. Didn't need to sand it at all.

mpower1226
01-11-2006, 03:51 PM
On my Focus, I used a polishing compound, and a high speed buffer. It turned out pretty good in the end. Didn't need to sand it at all.

yup its basically same method. However, using rotary to buff it down will introduce round swirl marks.

The method in this post is aimed at the ppl who do not have access to the buffing machine.

Even when you have rotary buffing machine, its always better to use wet sanding prior to buff. Same principal in automotive detailing where you wet sand down the car and u use buffer to buff out the sanding marks.

grievous
01-12-2006, 11:46 PM
nice, very useful info. once spring comes, i'll try this out.

Dr. Flyview
07-14-2006, 02:32 PM
I'd really like to try this as well as my headlight plastic is hideous, with the clear coat peeling off all over.

I'll probably have to remove the headlights...kind of aprehensive about that.

Also what was the conclusion as the best polishing and cleaning solution to be? PlasticX?

Where do you get all this stuff? Can it all be found at that pacific mall store?

BTW, why is this in the audio section...

Woofer
07-14-2006, 03:41 PM
Will this work on glass? i have e30 euro smoked projectors.

vadim321go
08-12-2006, 08:34 PM
Will this work on glass? i have e30 euro smoked projectors.
i highly doubt it, sanding down glass would not be a wise idea. plastic is ok

ZiMMie
08-12-2006, 08:42 PM
Will this work on glass? i have e30 euro smoked projectors.
Alan do u read thru threads or jst skip right thru them? that question was answered on the 2nd page.
ill be givin the call tommorow to see how much it will cost me to do mines.

you need a scratch remover and some elbow grease or a polisher. personally I prefer Janvil's glass scratch removal kit. (http://www.janvil.com/glass_restore.htm)

You can also go a place like Apple Autoglass to clean it up.

J

Zorin
05-30-2008, 07:03 AM
I used 1500 sandpaper with some wetsanding followed by Blue Magic paste - works like a charm. There are commercial glass pastes - try cleaner supply stores.

drchuck72
06-03-2008, 12:20 AM
When you say sand in the same direction, do you mean to sand straight across, parallel or round and round in the same direction?

Also, what do you use to apply and polish the plastic cleaner/polish?

I'm sorry if this sounds like a dumb question, I just don't want to make a mistake. It seems that one of the foglights on my 03 M3 was replaced and the other is the original. It is very hazy so I am very interested to try this technique. I may head down to PM tomorrow and pick up some supplies.

VSanj
06-03-2008, 12:36 PM
^^same direction as in left to right or up and down. DO NOT go round as it will create swirls.

TrueGem
08-17-2010, 01:37 PM
You can also use a high speed polisher to remove the sandpaper marks which I do on my clients cars.

Peter

True Gem Mobile Automotive Detailing
Visit: www.truegemdetailing.com
Phone 416.807.3559

Randy
04-21-2011, 01:29 AM
great. I tried this and now my headlights are all foggy.

i used 1000, then 2000, then plastX

how can i fix this? should i get some 3000? where do i even get that?

BimmerGuys
04-21-2011, 10:05 AM
Well... you might missed a step:

1. Start with 500 water sand
2. 1000 water sand
3. 1500 water sand
4. 2000 water sand
5. Polish/buff with the paste and polisher/drill

Note. You can use clear cote high-gloss in the end.

TrueGem
04-21-2011, 09:41 PM
If you do not have a high speed polisher give us a call or PM and we can come out and fix your head lights to the way you wanted them.

Peter

True Gem Mobile Automotive Detailing
Email: info@truegemdetailing.com
Phone: 416.807.3559

Hurricane240
07-19-2011, 03:37 PM
You can always find 2000,3000,4000 grit sandpaper in the auto body section of any auto parts store (Canadian Tire, Napa, Car Quest)

adampaul19
05-10-2012, 04:51 AM
you are chat on a very interesting topic This topic is very help full for me Thank you