Headlight lens cleaning


chewy012

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Just threw some elbow grease on the ol' headlight lenses and they turned out pretty good. I tried kinda all the DIY methods out there in the internet.

Mine had condensation on the inside, which made them foggy + the UV corrosion on the outside.

I tried soaking the lenses in vinegar but that left a kind of a white crust on them. Bug spray - 25% DEET OFF, cleaned them but then left kind of a gummy yellow film.

Tooth paste works well, but, it's just rubbing compound basically.

Ultimately, 4000 grit sandpaper paper and WD40 did the trick. Got them pretty clear, obviously not new clear, but, got a lot of light back on the road. Let a film of WD 40 set in the surface for 5 or 10 min before whipping dry.

I was able to pop the plastic apart with a flat head and then super glued back together. All in all, pretty pleased.


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Captain Ledd

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I did this on my GMC's tail lights 2 years ago, I need to do it on the headlights too but I just haven't. The tail lights turned out awesome. My lights are way clearer and still look new aside from the minor amount of "orange peel".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEJbKLZ7RmM
 

black_demon69

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The Way that they do it in a body shop is to wetsand w/ 800 grit then 1000 then 2000 after that ClearCaot and only buff if needed.
 

chewy012

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I gotta double check may only have had 2000, not 4000 grit.

I mostly wanted to debunk bug spray and vinegar, I wouldn't recommend those.

A buffer would be nice, but, my headlights are so gone it's just polishing a couple turds at this point haha

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91stranger

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I found the Meguiars plastx works really good with some 3000 grit wet sand paper. Used that on a mustang and made a huge difference. Plus you buy the bottle once and use it over and over again. I still have over half a bottle and have done a few cars with it. I also use this stuff we get from our chemical guy called shake-n-shine. Its basically a cleaner wax with fine grits in the wax, works really good and doesn't scratch anything. use that and a microfiber rag and that does a quick job.
 

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I just buzz them down with sandpaper, varying grades depending on how badly chipped up they are, finish with 1000 wet. Then spray clearcoat on them...but I'm a painter so thats just easy and accessible to me.
 

Casual_Reader

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Mine had condensation on the inside, which made them foggy...
I ended up taping a McD's straw to the end of a vac crevice tool and blowing air into the back until it all dried up. But that was from me carelessly rinsing them after sanding. Hopefully you sealed them up tight with the superglue so the fog won't return.

I sanded the factory coating off mine (if there was any left after 25 years) and then cycled up to 2500 and then buffed it out.

Saw a vid where an old timer mentioned that once the factory coating was off, all you had to do to bring back the crystal clear once it oxidized again was give it a quick wipe with acetone. It works... emphasis on quick wipe - with soaked rag. You don't want it melting the plastic so much that the rag sticks to the plastic.
 

chewy012

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I'll have to find my acetone!

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I'll have to find my acetone!
you might want to scrub them good with dawn detergent and hot water to get the oil, etc. totally off first... just to be sure.
 

chewy012

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Good call thanks. Looks like I need some more. You don't suppose white gas would work, do you?

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I'm pretty sure it's specifically acetone that dissolves polycarbonate. It's about $6 at most stores? Nail polish remover is acetone, but has additives that may mess up the works.

here's the vid I remembered seeing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2ZRKPshPVM
 

chewy012

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Yeah, that's makes sense. They're different types of molecules. Next time I think of it, I'ma snag some acetone

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I ended up taping a McD's straw to the end of a vac crevice tool and blowing air into the back until it all dried up. But that was from me carelessly rinsing them after sanding. Hopefully you sealed them up tight with the superglue so the fog won't return.
I had this problem with my Tempo and I went through about a dozen bulbs before I fixed it...I drilled a small hole right at the bottom of the lens so the moisture would drain...never had a problem after that...and never blew another bulb because of moisture splashing on them when they were hot...

If the seal method you used doesn't work try drilling...I might have put two small holes in them just to make sure there was flow but I can't remember now...it's been about 25 years since I did that...
 

chewy012

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Update, I gave acetone a shot. I see how it works, but with those little raised mold cone things, a quick clean wipe was impossible. Also it was quite cold. With the lenses as clean as I could get them, I still got a milky layer on the surface

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Mark_88

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When I sanded mine I left them sitting for a bit longer that I should and they milky layer returned. I found that I had to sand them (wet sanding), dry them off right after the last sanding, and then hit them with the clear coat immediately.

That was the only thing that kept them clear...so maybe try again and hit them with the clear coat...
 


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