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Old 29th March 2015, 15:35   #1
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Default DIY: Mercedes W211 Headlight Restoration

I was recently in a minor fender bender and had a dent on the right fender right by the headlight. The accident also broke 2 of the 3 headlight mounts. I wanted to straighten out the fender.

While I was at it I decided to also address another issue -- the left headlight was darker in appearance than the newer (replaced several years ago) right side headlight. I had initially thought the plastic lens was oxidizing and thought buffing it out would fix it -- it did not. The darkness was inside the lens and on the chrome surface as well.

Tool I needed/used:

Sockets - 8mm, 10mm, 13mm
Torx bits
Couple of different size ratchets and extensions
A bitdriver for the torx bits
couple of small screwdrivers to pry out plastic rivets
Pile of microfiber and cotton towels for cleaning
Gorilla Glue to repair the plastic mounts
Vinyl gloves for handling the gorrila glue (I did not use these and regret it)
Your favorite work gloves
A pair of ramps to drive the car up on and give room to work underneath
A creeper or alternative to lie on while working underneath
A compressor to blow out dust is helpful
A hotair gun (to remove the lens from the headlight)

I started up driving the car up on to the ramps and removing the undertray. Remove 2 x 13mm bolts, 6 x 8mm hex head screws, 4 x plastic rivets. Access to 2 of the plastic rivets which are in the wheel well is tight and I needed to drive the car back down the ramp and turn the wheels in either direction to get enough clearance.

Once the under tray was removed, I started working on the bumper. There are 2 x 10mm bolts underneath that attach the bumper covering to the metal frame behind it.

The torx bit is used to unscrew and remove 2 clamps that clamp the edge of the front fender to the bumper (1 on each side).

Then open the hood and remove 2 8mm bolts and 2 10mm bolts.

Unclip the wire harness to the foglamps and remove the temp sensor from the bumper.

Bumper now comes off.

Note the left headlight is darker in color than the right. The horizontal metal frame is the structural bumper to which the plastic outer bumper attaches.

I then removed the fogs and the headlights.

To restore the headlight -- remove the rubber seal that surrounds the lamp cluster. The lens is attached to the lamp with glue and with a few clamps. The clamps are pried of easily. Gently heating the edges of the lamp with the hotair gun softens the glue and the lens can be pried away from the lamp.

Note the dark deposit inside the lens. I washed it with dish detergent and wiped dry with microfiber. Similarly, I cleaned out the chrome surfaces of the reflector.

On projector headlamps, the chrome surface is not really functional and can be painted if one prefers that blacked out look.

To reassemble the headlamp, I again heated the glue on the edge with the hotair gun and then pushed the lens back on and clamped it. Looks nice all back together.

I also disassembled the foglamps and cleaned them out. There is no glue on the lenses -- just clamped on.

Note the broken off mounting bracket on the foglamp on the right. You can also see the clamps that hold the lenses on. I repaired the bracket on this foglamp and on the right-side headlamp with gorilla glue which cures with water/moisture and is pretty strong. I should have used the vinyl gloves. I did not and have patches of Gorilla glue on my hands which will take 2-4 days to come off.

I also patched cracks and breaks in the undertray with Gorilla Glue.

I also tinkered the front right fender to straighten it back into shape. Then reinstalled the lamps, bumper, and undertray.

While this was specific to the w211 Mercedes, most modern headlamps have a similar construction and the lenses can be removed with heating for clean up or customization.


Last edited by 71Convertible : 29th March 2015 at 15:38.
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Old 29th March 2015, 17:33   #2
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Default re: DIY: Mercedes W211 Headlight Restoration

Very nice and detailed. You have nice set of tools, please share more info on your tool set and garage. How much portable is the air compressor ? thinking of one from long long time .
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Old 29th March 2015, 20:20   #3
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Default re: DIY: Mercedes W211 Headlight Restoration

Portable enough to move from my garage to the driveway etc. I use it mainly for airbrushing scale models and for pumping air, blowing away dust etc.

LVLP spray guns should work with this compressor. Planning to get one and try my hand and laying on some primer and paint.

I would like to get a bigger one to power air tools. But, that requires more power and a higher amp power circuit than what I have now in the garage.

Tools are stored in a couple of tool chests with an almirah for parts storage, plus a small store room for additional items.

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Old 30th March 2015, 22:02   #4
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Default Re: DIY: Mercedes W211 Headlight Restoration

Good Job! Had a W211 previously, the headlights assumed a foggy appearance after around 4 years of ownership,always used to wonder what to do with them to get the showroom look!

Last edited by GTO : 31st March 2015 at 14:18. Reason: Typo
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Old 31st March 2015, 13:46   #5
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Default Re: DIY: Mercedes W211 Headlight Restoration

Wow you've got quite a sweet collection of tools & garage setup!

If it wasn't for the KA plates on the car, I would have assumed you were located in the USA.

A bit OT: Regarding the air compressor, I really want one - mostly for blowing off dust!
1) How much does it cost here? (Smaller the better)
2) Any suggestion on the type i should get (I read that some lubricate with oil within the air, and hence aren't ideal for "air cleaning" of computer parts etc)

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Old 31st March 2015, 16:42   #6
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Default Re: DIY: Mercedes W211 Headlight Restoration


This compressor is oil lubricated -- but I have no issues using it for painting/airbrushing (oil would ruin the finish if it was coming thru) scale models I build or for blowing dust off electronics. No idea how much these cost as I brought this with me when we moved.

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Old 31st March 2015, 17:45   #7
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Default Re: DIY: Mercedes W211 Headlight Restoration

More than the headlight restoration part, I liked the tools and the tool cabinets you have at your disposal!

Nice job with the restoration!
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