Car headlights restoration project!

Discussion in 'Chai' started by Chai, Oct 26, 2010.

  1. Chai

    Chai Administrator Staff Member

    There's no denying that our cars are getting old everyday (unless you buy a new car!). One of the easiest thing to look at your car's condition is the headlights!

    Due to the safety regulations, it is now pretty much standard to use plastic headlights instead of glass headlights. Unfortunately, using plastic headlights will age way faster than glass. It will oxidise, scratch, haze, turn yellow pretty quickly. Unless you have the luxury of parking under the shade or in a garage, the headlights are exposed to direct sunlight.

    So what I've done to perform the restoration, is to use some of my existing tools (Bosch random orbital sander, Meguiars products like PlastX, Ultimate Compound, NXT Wax 2.0). I bought some sandpaper, 600grit, 1500grit, 2000grit, some blue masking tapes.

    As you can see from the first picture below, the headlights have started turning yellow. It is not obvious in the picture, but you can see it from the

    First, use masking tape to tape around the headlights to prevent sanding the bodywork. Start with the roughest sandpaper, and depending on the condition of the headlights, I started with 600grit and rinse both the sandpaper and headlights with water. Continue to rinse while sanding. It will start to haze badly, sanding until the yellow 'tint' is gone. It took me about 5-10mins before I was satisfied. Then I switch to 1500grit and continue to wet sand. The haze will reduce slightly, but still very noticable. Lastly, I switched to 2000grit to finish off the wet sanding. 2000grit is the smoothest I can get from my local hardware store.

    I use a micrfiber cloth to wipe the headlights dry, and it will look like picture 3 below. Now it is ready to be polished using Ultimate Compound. I used my Bosch sander with foam to clean off the headlights. By now, you should see significant improvement. It will look brand new. I've repeated the process of cleaning with Ultimate Compound 3 times. I was very impressed with the results. It is so great that I have decided to post it here! :lol:

    I've tried many other methods before this and it didn't work well.
    1. PlastX with microfiber cloth (works, but yellow tint is not removed, much safer but less effective)
    2. PlastX with Bosch sander (works as above, no further improvement)
    3. Sand with 600grit+1500grit, hand polish with PlastX (doesn't work)

    In short, this combo works very well for me:
    500grit + 1500grit + 2000grit + polishing with Meguairs Ultimate Compoundwith Bosch sander (3-pass) + NXT Wax 2.0 paste

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 26, 2010
  2. zy

    zy Staff Member

    I borrow my friend some headlamp restorer I have used before.

    His light output is now so much better. :mrgreen:
  3. Ishtim

    Ishtim Super Moderator

    nice write up... trick for badly yellowed lenses is the 1000, 1500, 2000 grit sandpaper to removed the "dead" plastic, i have even used scouring powders such as Comet or Bar Keepers Friend.
  4. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    Wow! I was just thinking of redoing my headlights! They are SO YELLOW! :wall: :wall:

    Can I drop by and have you restore them for me??? :wicked: :wicked: :haha:
  5. Chai

    Chai Administrator Staff Member

    Yes of course, not without a charge! :haha:
  6. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    Err.. Can I treat you to roti canai and a cup of teh tarik???? :wicked: :wicked: :haha:

    In all seriousness, I was considering trying all those headlight polish but according to the Hyundai technician, they don't work, or at least, not for very long. :wall:

    But changing the headlights is so expensive! Is it easy to polish the way you described it?
  7. strawroot

    strawroot I Lurrrve Panda Biscuit!

    you have no idea. have to sandpaper that thing then rinse, sand then rinse n rinse n wipe and sand and rinse.

    not a lot of hard work i guess :lol:

    those stuff easily cost more than what i use to polish my face
  8. Chai

    Chai Administrator Staff Member

    Yeah, they definitely won't last as long as a brand new one, but a brand new set is not cheap. I think it's RM800 for a pair.

    It depends on what type of headlight polish. If it doesn't involve sanding it, chances are it won't last long. I will provide feedback if it doesn't last long.
  9. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    Hmm.. A salesman once demoed his polish to me. It instantly made the headlight clearer. Very impressive... but the effect faded within a few weeks.
  10. Chai

    Chai Administrator Staff Member

    I have one from Meguairs, it looks a lot better, but still not crystal clear enough, but you have to wipe it months later.

    I read that the UV protection of the lens is gone, so it will keep fading and turn yellow.
  11. Trinity

    Trinity Little Kiki Staff Member

    Looks great!:thumb: :clap:

    You should see all the old Ford Tempo's over here with that problem.:faint:

    Now that their clear again, You should keep them treated with some kind of UV protection. That's what causes the problem in the first place right?:think:
  12. Chai

    Chai Administrator Staff Member

    Unfortunately, without UV coating and UV lamp, I don't think we can do it on our own.

    Mine didn't look too bad before because I was constantly polishing it with some products. Without it, it is probably far worse.
  13. Trinity

    Trinity Little Kiki Staff Member

    Oh, I understand how that works just now thanks to Google.

    There are kit's out there, But they are a few hundred usd.:wall:
  14. Chai

    Chai Administrator Staff Member

    It's much cheaper to buy a new sets of headlights. It's only if you are making money restoring headlights.
  15. Adrian Wong

    Adrian Wong Da Boss Staff Member

    Well, if it can help restore my headlights and actually give me REAL LIGHTING on the road, instead of a subdued glow, I don't mind trying that!

    You mean after polishing your headlights? Or are you talking about all plastic headlights in general?
  16. Chai

    Chai Administrator Staff Member

    After my sanding method. It will definitely look better than what you have now, but how long is it going to last, I have no idea.

Share This Page