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Old 27th February 2010, 17:38   #1
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Default DIY Guide : How to get the sparkle back in your old (dull) headlights!

Dirt, weather and acid rain make car headlights go dull, off-color and pale,as a result your car starts looking ugly and boring. So does mine and I asked my car mechanic about it and he suggested a solution which is very much doable if you have right gear handy. Gears you require are:
  • Sand paper wet and dry type (2000 grit for minor damage, 1000-1500 grit for heavy to moderate damage).
  • Water spray bottle.
  • Any good quality cutting compound.
  • A good quality plastic polish. I used Maguires PlastX, specifically made for automobile headlights (If not available in India, any good quality headlight shiner from any car care shop wood do).
  • A pair of scissors and some tape.
  • And last but not least good ol' elbow grease .
A quick look on what I used.
DIY Guide : How to get the sparkle back in your old (dull) headlights!-tbhp-6.jpg

To start with, make sure the headlights' surface is clean and dirt Free. use any glass cleaner to get rid of any dirt, mud, bird poo or greasiness. This is how my car looked like before cleaning. If it wasn't in bad shape, it wasn't good either.

DIY Guide : How to get the sparkle back in your old (dull) headlights!-tbhp-1.jpg

Once clean, spray a good amount of water on all over the plastic surface and wet the sand paper as well. Make sure you tape the car body/bumper at the bottom of headlights to avoid any accidental damage to paint work before you spray any water. Now start sanding it Horizontally or Vertically, AVOID CIRCULAR MOVEMENTS on plastic. Whilst you sand, Don't let headlights' surface or sand paper dry. keep spraying water at regular intervals.

A close shot before cleaning
DIY Guide : How to get the sparkle back in your old (dull) headlights!-tbhp-2.jpg

We are looking at rubbing it till you feel the surface smooth. You can feel the difference. I rubbed for about good 15 minutes on each side. If your headlights are really blurry you might wanna start with a 1500 grit (wet and dry type) sand paper and if you have deep scratches from minor accidents or like we are looking at using 1000 grit paper (again wet and dry type). Do not rub too much with 1000 grit paper, you would end up with some permanent damage on plastic surface. Once satisfied using your elbow grease on sanding, wipe dry the plastic surface with a dry cotton cloth (old t-shirt or a towel would be best) and apply cutting compound (I used a sponge applicator that came with compound to apply it). You can apply it in circular motions, its just the sanding we don't wanna do this way. Here is result after sanding and rubbing compound.

Name:  TBHP 7.JPG
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When compound disappears, wipe the surface with dry cotton cloth and its time to use the plastic polish. I took a big dollop from the bottle and rubbed it till it disappeared. Now buff it with a clean cotton cloth to get that sheen that you've been missing for long.

Final results on my car
DIY Guide : How to get the sparkle back in your old (dull) headlights!-tbhp-4.jpg

I am happy with the results as car look has improved allot but still there is room for improvement. I'll give it another shot with 1500 grit and see if gets any better.

After this I gave my car a good wash and some polish. ladies and gents behold my 10 years old beauty
DIY Guide : How to get the sparkle back in your old (dull) headlights!-front.jpg

Hope this'll help you guys. Also, sorry if you guys find my writing boring. My writing skills are very bad.

Mods: if you find this thread at wrong place, please move it to where it belongs.

Regards
Punzabi

Last edited by Punzabi : 27th February 2010 at 17:44.
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Old 27th February 2010, 20:35   #2
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WOW!
Never knew one could even polish their lights.
Thanks for sharing this great DIY trick.
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Old 27th February 2010, 22:00   #3
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You mean you applied sand paper on the glass (lens) part of the head light assembley?
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Old 27th February 2010, 22:20   #4
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Brilliant! All I have to do now is wait for my car to get old
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Old 27th February 2010, 22:59   #5
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that;s a nice trick but if someone trying it do remember if anything goes wrong then the headlights will damage due to rough sanding
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Old 27th February 2010, 23:39   #6
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Cool trick...but is the headlight front glass or plastic?
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Old 28th February 2010, 00:19   #7
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God bless you my friend. I was wondering what to do for my alsomt 5 year old car. The low beam is as good as candle light and I dont use high beam unless for short periods of really dark roads. Will try the DIY and report.
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Old 28th February 2010, 00:51   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by neel385 View Post
Cool trick...but is the headlight front glass or plastic?
Really need to know this before trying it out. I feel that sandpaper on a plastic headlight may render it opaque. If anybody has a spare (damaged) plastic HL lying around, please try this out and report. I'm going to try and source a damaged HL from my regular MASS.
But if it does indeed work, it would be a great thing.
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Old 28th February 2010, 04:23   #9
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Thanks for appreciation guys, head lights on my car are plastic and this practice is very much safe. As mine were not too deteriorated, I used 2000 grit sand paper. Its very fine sand paper, upon touching you don't feel the rough surface much. I would'nt recommend it on glass as I haven't tried it and don't know what the results would be. For those who are iffy about doing it on plastic, guys give it a try its safe and results will definitely please you. But make sure you are doing it right, somethings to be careful about (I know I am repeating these but just to clear you doubts):
  • Good quality wet and dry sandpaper with no less than 1000 grit.
  • 2000 grit for little scratches and just blurry headlights, 1000/1500 grit only if headlights are nearly opaque and have deep accidental scratches.
  • keep spraying water on surface and sandpaper. Its the dry rubbing that'll damage the plastic headlights.
  • Do not do it in circular motions. Only horizontal and/or vertical motions.
  • Get a good quality plastic polish (I believe hardware stores are places to procure it or try ebay for Maguire's, Autoglyme or Chemical brother's headlight polish. These are good brands. I used Maguire's). Do test the polish first if its not specifically for headlights.
Happy D.I.Ying
Punzabi

Last edited by Punzabi : 28th February 2010 at 04:29.
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Old 28th February 2010, 05:43   #10
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Useful thread, Anyway its worth trying out this before changing the entire headlight unit.

IS this offered in any service stations?
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Old 28th February 2010, 06:47   #11
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@ Hpzone: No mate, its not offered at any service station or workshops. Its D.I.Y thing that you can do at you home.
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Old 28th February 2010, 10:39   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hpzone View Post
Useful thread, Anyway its worth trying out this before changing the entire headlight unit.

IS this offered in any service stations?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Punzabi View Post
@ Hpzone: No mate, its not offered at any service station or workshops. Its D.I.Y thing that you can do at you home.

This trick is used in India by every car polishing guys, i myself do this every 6 months on our Matiz lights.

And mostly thanks to traffic conditions here, we get a chance to install new Headlights every often.
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Old 2nd March 2010, 11:06   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PAVAN KADAM View Post
This trick is used in India by every car polishing guys, i myself do this every 6 months on our Matiz lights.

And mostly thanks to traffic conditions here, we get a chance to install new Headlights every often.
it IS polishing Pavan, just like wood or any other surface.

Being living outside India, the down side here in these so called developed countries is everything costs through the nose and very less (read it rare) options for repair & restore. Buying new headlights is certainly a rip off. Now am planning for full car detailing and paint restore, just looking for plenty of free time.lol
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Old 31st October 2010, 18:41   #14
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Default DIY: cleaning headlight lens.

Something really cool, i thought about sharing :

Over time your headlight lens will yellow out, and cause visibility problems for you at night.

If you're like me, you would think the only way to fix this is to replace your headlights, or adopt higher wattage bulbs / relay mechanisms. For those who park their cars out in the sun, this may be very useful.

I just saw this neat video which I think would be a good try before considering other alternatives:



and something similar but not as effective with TOOTHPASTE!! :


pretty cool huh? lemme know how it works for you.

DISCLAIMER: I havent really tried it out myself, but I'm going to as soon as i can get the sandpaper and a buffer! Or maybe you could show your local garage or go to a detailing service.
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Old 31st July 2011, 12:27   #15
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Default Headlight Restoration

My car is now almost 7 years old and the headlight surface has become extremely foggy/yellowish/opaque at the top. While searching on the WWW for methods to clean the same, I came across this product - Mother's Headlight Restoration Kit (Mothers Headlight Restoration Kit with PowerBall 4Light | eBay)

In fact the same is also on sale in the Classifieds section (http://classifieds.team-bhp.com/buy-...tion-Kit.html/)

Does anyone have experience in using this / similar kits? Are hey really effective, and do they require any special tools? Since I'll be selling off the car soon, I do not wish to spend on replacing the headlights.

The other options on Ebay include
1. Turtle Wax T-240KT Headlight Lens Restorer Kit (http://cgi.ebay.in/Turtle-Wax-T-240K...#ht_2231wt_698)
2. Sylvania 38771 Headlight Restoration Kit (http://cgi.ebay.in/Sylvania-38771-He...#ht_1996wt_698)
3. Meguiars Professional Headlight Restoration Kit (http://cgi.ebay.in/Meguiars-Professi...#ht_2028wt_698)

Last edited by nishantgandhi : 31st July 2011 at 12:29.
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