Headlight lens foggy

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  #1  
Old 06-20-09, 08:01 AM
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Headlight lens foggy

1999 Chevy Venture Van

Over the last couple of years headlight lenses have developed a "frosty" appearance and are no longer clear. Safety is an issue because the effectiveness of the headlights are diminished. I see that there are several "headlight restoration" products on the market. All deal with frosting on the outside surface of the lens. I may be crazy but I think the frosting on mine are on the inside. Two reasons:
  1. They look that way!
  2. The adjacent parking light/ turn signal lenses are clear.

I figure the heat and IR radiation emitted by the Halogen lamps has frosted the inside of the lenses.

Is my reasoning clouded as well as my headlights?
Help! they want $400 for new lenses!
 
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  #2  
Old 06-20-09, 08:10 AM
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A break in the seal could be allowing moisture into the housing, which, when it condenses on the lens will give a frosty effect. I'm not say this is your problem, but I have seen it happen.
 
  #3  
Old 06-20-09, 12:54 PM
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xogi: For about $15 at Autozone, a lens refinishing kit. Basically a disk sander attachment for your drill with various grades of sandpaper. Works very well. In all likelihood, it is the outside.
 
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Old 06-20-09, 01:19 PM
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Possible the lense kit would help...but before you buy it..just try some rubbing compound or plastic polish on a rag. My headlights are/were sort of frosted on the exterior but the turns and side markers weren't...maybe a slightly diff material or a slightly diff angle to the dust and grit?

I have seen the inside go frosty/milky. As goldstar said..water gets in, evaporates from the heat of the bulb and leaves deposits on the inside. You might be able to clean a little bit of that by removing the assembly and going in from the bulb hole with a swab on a pair of long nose/long handle pliers. Might take something like CLR to remove it.

Man $200 ea for some molded chunks of platic...just kills ya doesn't it?
 
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Old 06-20-09, 03:13 PM
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Grab an Old rag,and some 10/30 motor oil. Just a dab , toward the outer edge. If it clears the lens , its on the outside....

If the "Test Spot" works, rub vigourously across the lens until the fog clears.....Motor oil is Really cheap......and Since my County is strict about Foggy lenses as part of a Safety Inspection, It usually works out well....for minimal Bucks...
 
  #6  
Old 06-20-09, 03:20 PM
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Most of those I have seen are rough on the outside.

I have used Scratch Out - a paint scratch remover (Walmart - yellow bottle $2.95). It works really well for getting the rough grainy stuff off. I think I would leave the deep rock pits alone, though.

Once the frosty stuff is off the headlights will be close to normal.
 
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Old 06-20-09, 03:30 PM
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Unc..motor oil? That sure wouldn't work out here..lol..grit and sand don't care about no stinking motor oil.

Good test to see if its inside or out though..

Scratch out was just the kind of thing I meant for polishing..I think I have a bottle somewhere...basically liquid polishing compound I think.
 
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Old 06-20-09, 04:51 PM
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The motor oil idea was simply for the fact that the residue fills in the scratches......If the residue is transparent....so are the scratches.

Just a thought....since heat and plastic don't mix...the frost can come from distorted plastic that's been overheated.....you didn't use off-road bulbs..did you???
 
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Old 06-20-09, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by bob22 View Post
xogi: For about $15 at Autozone, a lens refinishing kit. Basically a disk sander attachment for your drill with various grades of sandpaper. Works very well. In all likelihood, it is the outside.
Sandpaper? On plastic? I have seen what just paper toweling does on plexi (over time). Ouch. It leaves a fog-like scratch that is so fine of a scratch, that you can't actually hardly see scratches. It fogs it(scratches that probably have to be measured in thousands or tens or hundreds of thousands of an inch deep only) .

I recently used glass refinishing compound that is not supposed to scratch glass, it says, on the label. And it fog-scratched the glass! And that is on glass - not plastic. You sure about this? Sure they don't include some kind of polishing rouge and a drill buffer wheel or something in that kit? -more than just sandpaper?
 
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Old 06-20-09, 05:40 PM
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Nope Ec..they do work...I think they go to something like a 2000 grit for the final polish.

And its a step by step..you can't skip one.
 
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Old 06-21-09, 10:36 AM
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How can that possibly possibly be? This sounds like something someone woud make up as a joke to get a reaction from people. Sandpapering plastic. ??? I gotta run this one by guys I know over at the auto parts store nearby.
 
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Old 06-21-09, 11:15 AM
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Yes, it is like 1000 then 1500, then 2000 grit. Finishes with something like very fine rubbing compound. They look like new. They don't look like it will help when you start doing it but by the end they are really clear. Best $15 I've spent in a long time. Unfortunately, the car was totaled about 3 months later.
 
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Old 06-21-09, 11:18 AM
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Oh..I think there is a final polish with some sort of compound as well.

We used to polish things like camera flashes lenses with Nev-R-Dull back in the Navy days.

You know one problem that many people don't know about Plexi/acrylic? They can be clouded/crazed by using things like Windex..due to the ammonia.

I'm sure the lenses for headlights have additives or something to help prevent yellowing/clouding...and I think they are made from polycarbonate similar to Lexan which is much harder. I know a lot of the older cars that first had the plastic lenses are discolored/yellowed even if they aren't all scratched and scuffed on the outside.
 
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Old 06-21-09, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by bob22 View Post
Yes, it is like 1000 then 1500, then 2000 grit. Finishes with something like very fine rubbing compound. They look like new. They don't look like it will help when you start doing it but by the end they are really clear. Best $15 I've spent in a long time. Unfortunately, the car was totaled about 3 months later.
This guy about 35 years ago told me how he just spent hundreds of dollars on a special paint job on his car, got it back from the auto detailing place, and wrapped the car around a tree trunk.
 
  #15  
Old 06-21-09, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Gunguy45 View Post
Oh..I think there is a final polish with some sort of compound as well.
There. That's more like it

You know one problem that many people don't know about Plexi/acrylic? They can be clouded/crazed by using things like Windex..due to the ammonia.
Hmmm. Didn't know that. Time for a warning label on the bottle? I'd better call up the mfg. and tell them. Calling companies has been a hobby of mine.

I'm sure the lenses for headlights have additives or something to help prevent yellowing/clouding...and I think they are made from polycarbonate similar to Lexan which is much harder. I know a lot of the older cars that first had the plastic lenses are discolored/yellowed even if they aren't all scratched and scuffed on the outside.
Those newer headlight lenses and the bulbs that are inside sure are fancy looking these days. Would not want to pay for front end damage anymore though, because of such appointments.
 
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