Anyone else ever polish their headlights?

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  #1  
Old 11-15-11, 02:41 PM
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Anyone else ever polish their headlights?

Did one of mine on the 10 y/o Tribute today..turned out pretty good, but not great. Started with 2000 then went to 2500, used a pretty light touch IMO. Soaked the paper, rinsed often. Even after liquid polishing still have some scratches from the 2500. Can feel them with a fingernail when compared to the side of the lens with no sanding. Shoot, I've done some minor paint repairs and only went to 600 and got less scratches than this.

I'll be doing another polish tomorrow when I do the other side and I'll try an even lighter touch on that one.

Is there some sort of "topcoat" that I could apply?
 
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Old 11-15-11, 02:54 PM
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Sorry - Wrong answer to the wrong post

Dick
 
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Old 11-15-11, 02:58 PM
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Uhhh Dick...I was asking about plastic headlight assemblies? lol

EDIT...got it...kinda wondered about that.
 
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Old 11-15-11, 03:44 PM
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Did you know they make headlight polishing kits? They help remove the "fogging" which I assume you are trying to fix. You might want to check them out. I have even seen them a Wally World.
 
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Old 11-15-11, 03:52 PM
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TI, that's actually what I got. Though it was the $10 one at the auto parts store, not the $20 one from wally world. No place to buy 1500-2500 grit paper individually around here. Followed the instructions well I feel.

Like I said..looks better..just not great.


On another tack, how long before headlight bulbs start to lose brightness. I really think mine are factory...not sure.
 
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Old 11-15-11, 04:01 PM
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I don't know if you could even tell much difference between an old bulb and a new one of the same type/model anymore than a new to old bulb in your house. The technology is the same. However, I would suspect they are making better/brighter bulbs then compared to 10 years ago.

Maybe you could move to some rubbing or polishing compound? Or maybe just some wax?
 
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Old 11-15-11, 04:50 PM
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Yeah, I thought about some white buffing compound...bit more aggressive than the 2500...bit less than the polish.

Prob still have a tin around here somewhere.
 
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Old 11-16-11, 03:45 AM
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I've used the polishing kit you did, Vic, with absolutely no results. I may resort to buffing compound, too. Odd, but the parking lights beside the headlights are clear as a bell, just the headlight is goofy. Let us know about the compound before I try it
 
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Old 11-16-11, 04:21 AM
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You might also try pricing new headlights, for some vehicles they are relatively cheap. A few yrs back I hit a deer with my wife's car breaking the headlight. Unfortunately the sable lights were of the more expensive variety The new one really made the old foggy one look bad so I had to replace it too. Since her headlights had fogged from the inside, those polishing kits wouldn't work
 
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Old 11-16-11, 04:47 AM
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Mark beat me to it. Oddly enough I checked my favorite headlight site and those aren't listed. Did find them elsewhere for about $75ea/$125pr; a little pricier than what I've paid for some I've done, but still well below factory.

I do the beacons on my wrecker with a polishing compound and my little B&D cordless (low speed) scrubber. Also discovered by accident that jewler's rouge works well; don't know what grit it equates to, though.
 
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Old 11-16-11, 05:06 AM
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Well, they sure aren't at the stage that they would need replacing yet. Not yellowed or anything...just a little hazy on the outside. The 140K of mostly highway driving I guess. It's noticeable when driving at night, it sort of makes the light more diffuse.

I tried a Mothers buffing ball with my cordless drill on low speed last year and it helped quite a bit. The sanding and then buffing yesterday did better.

Funny that the Suzuki with about 1/2 the miles doesn't show even a hint of it. Better polycarbonate maybe?

Larry...same with mine, though those lights aren't subjected to the head-on airflow ( and flying grit, sand, etc) as much, so on mine it makes sense. Could also be the heat of the halogens make a difference?

I'll snap a couple of pics to try and show the results later.
 
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Old 11-16-11, 07:08 AM
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I have had good results with Meguires swirl remover and a sponge pad on my buffer.
 
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Old 11-16-11, 10:15 AM
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Pics of results so far, click for larger image.

Pass side..no polishing.


Drivers side, about 20-30 min worth. This one was actually in worse condition than the other. Figured I'd start with the worst first and get an idea of what to expect.


May not seem like much, but if you were to really lay an eyeball on it, you can see a lot more of the reflector behind the bulb.
 
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Old 11-16-11, 02:32 PM
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Naw, mine look like translucent ceiling panels . I'll try your method, but as Marksr says, I may look into replacement, too. 398k on it, so they are pretty occluded.
 
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Old 11-16-11, 03:07 PM
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I used a $10 product from Turtle or one similar, that came with a cleaning solution and some various abrasive surfaces to move between. I used it on my son's '02 Grand Am. In the end there was some improvment in clarity though also some scratches remaining and it seemed that some of the discoloration was on the inside of the lens as well anyway. What seemed to make the most difference was when I used the small treated tissue of 'sealer' that came in the box wraped in a foil packet. Does anyone know what exactly this lens 'sealer' is made from that allows it to penetrate the plastic lens rather than bead up on it. It was this 'sealer' which seemed to bring the most benefit in regards to clarity. My daughter in laws 07 Mazda 3 is now also starting to show signs of discoloration so I am also interested in the best clean and polish approach beyond complete lense replacement and all that brings with it.
 
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Old 11-17-11, 04:13 AM
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Yeah, you'll want to try to clean those, did a look up and they're $100 a pop.

Not sure what would be in the wipes; I've tried a number of things to try to extend the time between polishings without much success.
 
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Old 12-19-11, 06:54 AM
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Just an update....
Week or so back I was using a magic eraser for something in the house and had the idea that it might work to really get a good final polish on the headlights. I mean heck, they aren't really abrasive right?

WRONG

I'd guess they are probably about the equivalent of a 3000 grit paper. Definitely higher than the 2500 that was the last paper I used from the kit, before polishing with the liquid. Hazed the already polished surface pretty bad.

Re-buffed with the foam ball and plastic polish yesterday and their as good as they are going to get I guess.

So anyway..the lesson is that a magic eraser might be good as a super fine final finish after the highest grit sandpaper, but the buffing is what really does the trick.
 
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Old 01-02-12, 03:40 PM
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Been there, done that with those kits with no positive results so I went to good ole toothpaste on a wet towel along with elbow grease, be sure to keep everything plenty wet. One of the kits I tried made the lenses much worse and the toothpaste was the only thing I found that would correct the damage the kit caused. Will never buy any of those kits again!
 
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