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Old 26th November 2021, 16:50   #1
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Default DIY: Restoring Headlights at home

I'm a newbie here and this is my first thread on the forum. Suggestions and comments are welcome.

For those who have oxidized and hazy headlights which reduce your light output and make your night drives difficult, hope this DIY guide helps you freshen up your headlights.
An OEM new Swift headlight will cost you about ₹2525 per side, So in total ₹5050 for a pair.

I for long had the itch to restore my headlights ever since I got the car in June last year because they started yellowing, had scratches, were oxidized, had hard water spots and while the previous owner had the car re-painted, the Painter didn’t cover the headlights leading to overspray of clear coat over them.


Friend and fellow BHPian yuv3447 guided me while doing this DIY. Huge thanks to you brother!


Condition of the headlights before restoring


DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-1.jpg
DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-2.jpg
DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-3.jpg
DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-4.jpg

Things you need:



1) 800 grit sandpaper
2) 1500 grit sandpaper
3) 3M Marine Paste (Rubbing compound)
4) 3M Premium Liquid Wax
5) Orbital Polishing Machine
6) Elbow grease (trust me)
7) Lots of Patience


Price for this sweet DIY?


800 grit sandpaper - ₹25
1500 grit sandpaper - ₹35
3M Marine Paste (Rubbing compound) - ₹193
3M Premium Liquid Wax -₹156
Orbital Polishing Machine (I had borrowed the orbital polishing machine from a good friend.)

Total : ₹409

DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-whatsapp-image-20211120-12.08.01-pm.jpeg




Procedure:

1) Remove the bumper

To make things easier, I removed the front bumper. Removing the bumper is a fairly easy process. I asked my younger cousin to assist me in removing the bumper.
I have marked the positions of all the screws, clips and bolts which hold the bumper to the body. The screws are marked in green arrows, clips by orange arrows and bolts by yellow arrows.

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Once you remove all of them, lift the bumper from the top carefully and it will come off.

DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-5.jpg

Unfortunately while I was performing this DIY, it unexpectedly started raining all of a sudden. Bummer!


DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-6.jpg


2) Wipe the headlight using a clean cloth.

3) Mask the edges of the fender panel so as to not scratch it when sanding.

4) Once done with masking, spray water on your sandpaper and plenty on your headlight too .

DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-img_20211120_142638.jpg

5) Wet sand it evenly with the 800 grit paper first. Do not sand in a circular motion and make sure to constantly spray your sandpaper and headlight with water. Wipe down all the residue from the headlight by pouring a mug of water on it. Yes, you will require a lot of elbow grease for the sanding.

DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-7.jpg

6) Make sure you sand it till you get an even finish on your headlights and all the yellowness and oxidization has gone. I had to sand my headlight with 800 grit for about 4 passes because the overspray clear coat was still present in some areas of the headlight. It will look even more hazy but trust me the outcome at the end will be worth it.

DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-800-1st-.jpg
DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-800-1st.jpg
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7) Proceed to 1500 grit wet sanding once an even finish is obtained and you’re happy with the 800 grit sanding. The 1500 grit sandpaper is smoother so it will even out all those scratches put by the 800 grit sandpaper.

DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-img_0085.jpg

8) Wet sand it for about two passes and you should be getting an even and smooth finish.

DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-1500-2nd.jpg

9) Pour water on the headlight again with water and clean with a microfiber cloth.

DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-1500-3rd.jpg

10) Now we can move on to the Rubbing compound. Take a generous amount of it and smudge it on the headlight evenly. Yes I think I was a bit too generous. Sprinkle few drops of water on it. Set the speed of the machine to low speed. Make sure the wool pad of the orbital polisher is clean.

DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-img_0091.jpg


11) Now you want to make sure that you take your time with the Polisher and not rush. Do wear an apron or something similar to it so as to not get rubbing compound splashed on your clothing. Tilt the polisher and use only the side of the Polisher. Start from one part of the headlight and work your way through. You should see the headlight clearing up in a while. Make sure to sprinkle few drops of water on your headlights so that the heat won't melt the headlight.

DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-whatsapp-image-20211120-4.42.46-pm.jpeg

12) Once you’re satisfied with polishing the headlight, Time to apply the liquid wax, it would act as a sealant. Wipe the headlight with a microfiber cloth and apply liquid wax on the headlights. Again with the polisher, work your way through just like how you did with the rubbing compound.

Voila! Your headlights should be looking crystal clear now.


NOTE: Now applying the liquid wax again and again every month would be irritating so applying PPF a good transparent film on the headlight would maintain its condition and protect it further.



Result After Restoring the Headlights



DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-post-restoration-.jpeg
DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-post-restoration-2.jpeg

There has been a significant increase in light output post the restoration and I'm loving it. Finally I'm getting the full output of the 90/100 watt setup installed in my car and easier night drives henceforth.

Hope this DIY helped and I'm waiting to see the before/after photos of your headlight restorations

Regards
Ashton Castelino

Last edited by Ashtoncastelino : 26th November 2021 at 17:11.
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Old 26th November 2021, 17:23   #2
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Default re: DIY: Restoring Headlights at home

Great job bro! They look just as good as new. And I must get back to writing about my ZEN
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Old 26th November 2021, 17:50   #3
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Default re: DIY: Restoring Headlights at home

Nice job of restoring the faded lamps.

Regarding sealing with the wax. Wax is not durable and once it wears off the headlights will start becoming yellow since the factory plastic protector coat is removed during wet sanding. Look for dedicated headlamp restore kit(Turtle wax has one IIRC) which has some sort of plastic sealer which acts as the protective top coat that lasts long.
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Old 26th November 2021, 19:00   #4
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Default re: DIY: Restoring Headlights at home

A nice diy there and hope it helps many here. Those headlamps looks neat and clear
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Old 28th November 2021, 09:17   #5
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Default re: DIY: Restoring Headlights at home

Great DIY man,

Waiting to do the same. Where did you buy the sandpaper from?

BHPians, what are some good alternatives to PPF to protect the headlight from further oxidation? or scratch protection?
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Old 28th November 2021, 11:40   #6
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Default re: DIY: Restoring Headlights at home

Great job! Did you consider applying a later of clear coat? That would ensure longevity and you would not have to do the restoration for a long time.
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Old 28th November 2021, 12:01   #7
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Default re: DIY: Restoring Headlights at home

Quote:
Originally Posted by viXit View Post
Great DIY man,

Waiting to do the same. Where did you buy the sandpaper from?

BHPians, what are some good alternatives to PPF to protect the headlight from further oxidation? or scratch protection?
Sandpaper you can easily get from Amazon, make sure you check the grit numbers included before ordering. You can also buy from 3M distributors directly.

Easiest and longest lasting protection for the lens after stripping the old clearcoat would be a quality ceramic coating, again you can get Carpro Cquartz kits off Amazon. Make sure you IPA wipe the lens thoroughly before application.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mohitchalla View Post
Great job! Did you consider applying a later of clear coat? That would ensure longevity and you would not have to do the restoration for a long time.
Wouldn’t recommend without the right equipment and a paint booth. You can use clear but to do it properly you’ll need an HVLP spray gun, and a completely dust free environment to ensure no contaminants stick to the clear while curing. You can use pre mixed clears in a spray can but you’ll still need to mask off a lot of area, and then sand down and polish in steps once it is cured to remove fine dust particles that’ll stick to it while drying for a perfectly clear finish on each lens, this will double the work, better to put 2-3 coats of a quality ceramic and call it a day. Cheers.

Last edited by AJ56 : 28th November 2021 at 12:13.
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Old 28th November 2021, 18:38   #8
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Default re: DIY: Restoring Headlights at home

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ashtoncastelino View Post

NOTE: Now applying the liquid wax again and again every month would be irritating so applying PPF a good transparent film on the headlight would maintain its condition and protect it further.
Awesome job, But applying PPF on it would dull the HL in the long run. PPF does like heat and tends to yellow over a period of time.

Cheers
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Old 28th November 2021, 20:27   #9
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Default re: DIY: Restoring Headlights at home

Does 3M provide headlight restoration service?
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Old 29th November 2021, 08:22   #10
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Default re: DIY: Restoring Headlights at home

Great job and 3m charges Rs.1490 for the same service(may be dated, please check current prices.

Unfortunately, this doesn't last long. In a few months, you will see fogging again. I did this once with 3m and once myself after which I got bored of traveling to 3m/long drawn DIY and bought brand new headlight lenses from aliexpress instead for around 15 dollars shipped. Sure, it meant an even harder DIY but I've never had to redo this for 3 years now. If I come across the headlight fogging issue again, I will definitely buy a new set of lenses instead of this sanding and polishing faff.
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Old 29th November 2021, 09:25   #11
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Default re: DIY: Restoring Headlights at home

I went through this process for my Alto a couple of months back but, got the professionals to do that for me. I also thought of permanently fixing this issue by applying PPF on the restored headlights, but was surprised to see multiple detailers going against it! As per all of them since headlights get heated to high temperatures while usage, PPF might not sustain there, perhaps I went for Ceramic coating as suggested by nearly all.*

A smart thing the OP did here was, removing the bumper, cause in my case, it was interrupting the rotary polisher, making its action concentrated on the central part, leading to tiny expansion (read the formation of fine cracks) marks from the inside of the light, due to excessive heat, so folks, definitely keep that in mind while restoring old headlights.

Nevertheless, the end result was nearly 85% of what I expected. I had replaced one headlight and did not like the flimsy quality of it, even after being MGP, hence, sought of restoring the other one, though restoring it cost me more than buying a new one!

Before:
DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-p_20211003_104448.jpg

After:DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-p_20211003_124703.jpg
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Old 29th November 2021, 10:18   #12
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Default re: DIY: Restoring Headlights at home

I remember reading somewhere about WD-40 being used to clean hazy headlamps. Has anyone tried it? Is it an effective solution?
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Old 29th November 2021, 11:13   #13
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Default re: DIY: Restoring Headlights at home

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Originally Posted by @og_adi View Post
I remember reading somewhere about WD-40 being used to clean hazy headlamps. Has anyone tried it? Is it an effective solution?
WD 40 did not work at all on my car's plastic lenses but sanding and polishing worked beautifully. Buying lenses and glue in most cases is way more effective and cheaper in the long run.
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Old 29th November 2021, 11:56   #14
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Default re: DIY: Restoring Headlights at home

I use the Meguiars Headlight restorer. This even protects from future haze. All you need is a towel to wipe it off the surface. My two decade old Zen had a real bad build-up, and this did a great job
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Old 29th November 2021, 13:29   #15
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Default re: DIY: Restoring Headlights at home

Wanted to post some before and after shots of an old Sunnyís lights we had recently restored.

Process:

1) Wipe down each lens with some waterless wash to remove dust.
2) Clay each lens to remove bonded contaminants and mask around the edges
3) Wetsand with 600 grit sanding discs attached to a short throw orbital sander.
4) Step up to 1200 grit discs
5) Step up to 2500 grit discs
6) Heavy cut compound (Mezerna 400) with 3Ē coarse foam pad on a rotary polisher.
7) Finish out with a soft cut pad and Menzerna 3500 polish.
8) 25% IPA wipe each lens to remove polishing oils
9) 2 Coats of CleanBoyz professional ceramic coating applied (1.5 hrs between each coat).

If your lights are not as bad you can start with 800 grit, or in case theyíre worse you might need 400 grit, rule of thumb when stepping up grit numbers is to double your current number so for eg. if youíre using 1500 then the next step is 3000 grit.

The reason PPF isnít a great solution on lens is cause it adds orange peel (optical distortion) in the finish (just like with paint) and more importantly it yellows out within a year, also you can see the edges around the lens which looks ugly.

Iíll also add that the clearcoat on plastic lens only yellows and breaks down when not cared for over the years, as UV radiation breaks it down. If you apply protection regularly be it sealants or coatings, you car wonít have any yellowing/hazing on the lens. To prove my point you can see my own car below (black Amaze) itís almost 9 years old and these are the original lens, zero loss in clarity.
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DIY: Restoring Headlights at home-58c96e3132314cacaef275d3b98bca82.jpeg  

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