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johnlew
08-05-2002, 09:38 PM
Is there anyway to clean the inside or replace the clear plastic lens that wraps the the head and cornering lights? Mine's a '99 540iAT and the headlights look cloudy when off. Either they're dusty inside or ??? Compared to my 330 they're just dull. Any help?

http://www.bimmerfest.com/members/johnlew/540/pair.jpg

Mystikal
08-05-2002, 10:59 PM
The headlight covers fade over time, eventually turning quite opaque. This is why many E36 owners converted to the European headlight assembly, which is made of replaceable glass instead of the plastic. This is of course one of the worst things about it. You can't replace just the lens on the E39, it is connected to the corner lights and the rest of the entire housing too. Might as well get clears or something. :tsk:

PropellerHead
08-05-2002, 11:20 PM
First, make sure the the glass is dirty from the inside, not just pitted from a few years of driving.

If they are pitted on the outside, you need to wet sand the plastic lenses- like they do paint at body shops- then get some plastic polish- I think Mequires has a couple good ones. I have more detail on this from when I did a friends if you need it.

If they really are dirty from the inside:

The lenses (including the turn signal portion) are actually a separate piece from the lights behind them.

First, you have to remove the entire assembly from the car. It's easy. There are four (10mm?) bolts that hold on each assembly. You will need an extension to get to the lower most ones. Once they're removed and the light bulbs are twisted out, the entire assembly is free. I'ts sorta hard to get to the turn signal bulb, but if you pivot the freed assembly out towards the outside of the car, you can get to it much easier- remember this when reassembling and connect it first.

Once freed, you will see four clips two top and two bottom. There is also one larger near the signal. When apart it looks like this:
http://www.my02.com/images/00540/apart.jpg

After apart, carfully remove the glass lenses- They're held in by easily breakable plastic pins.

Get your favorite child to use his or her tiny hands inside the new holes and wash the inside of daddy's lenses in trade for some ice cream.

Clean inside of lenses. I caution you, though, that it is more likely they are pitted from the outside and you just need to wetsand and then polish the lenses. They will end up crystal clear if that is the problem.

johnlew
08-06-2002, 06:38 AM
Thanks a lot guys. Propeller, if you're convinced that these units are really sealed, and the lenses not dirty inside, I'll buy it. The car has 85K miles on it and the windshield is quite pitted also. I polished the lenses with Griot's #3 but that is probably too gentle from what you say. Is there a particular number wet sand paper you'd use? What do you think of Mystikal's comment about clouding...just outside which the sand/polish remedy should fix, or cloudy throughout and irreparable? I'll try the sand/polish method first, of course, what have I got to lose? You think the lenses stayed clean inside, my engine looked like this when I bought the car? You can also see the lenses pretty fairly in this pic.

http://www.bimmerfest.com/members/johnlew/540/b4engine.jpg

PropellerHead
08-06-2002, 12:17 PM
Well, there is a pretty good rubber seal around the edge of the light assemblies. Unless they have been apart- ie the person before you had clear corners and changed back to amber to sell the car- it's a good seal. If they were apart and stored in a dusty environment by the previous owner, it is very possible that there is dirt inside.

To wet sand, I would use something very fine, like a 1000 with the same light pressure you would use on paint if you were wet sanding it. Like paint, when done wetsanding, there will be a fine haze over the assembly.

Polish it with your porter cable or elbow grease using a cloth and some paint cleanser/pre-wax and then finish with some plastic polish- should find it at the place you buy car wash stuff. it may take some time and practice, but your lenses will be much more clear.

Just remember to treat the plastic lense as gently as you would your paint if you were trying to fix a blemish that polish won't. You may even want to tape off the paint near the lense edges so you don't scratch it when sanding.

Of course, you *could* just get some angel eyes and forget the whole mess... ;-)
http://www.my02.com/images/thumbs/00540/hartge/frtrtt.jpg

johnlew
08-06-2002, 12:43 PM
Propeller, thanks for the response. What would a set of clears or even ambers for that matter cost? I think I'll pass on the angels, but what would they go for? Or, can you direct me to a link?

PropellerHead
08-06-2002, 02:25 PM
You know.. I am unsure that I don't still have the ambers I once did. You see, I had ambers on my 2000, after I'd had the car for 5K miles, changed (first) to clear lenses, then sold the clears and assemblies when I went to AE's.

The ambers may just be in the attic. If I do stil have 'em, I'll sell 'em to you at a cost in accordance to what they're worth to me, now. Which ain't much.

I can check in two hours.

And, FWIW, this is how I keep my motor: :angel:

http://www.my02.com/images/00540/detail/motorsm.jpg

johnlew
08-06-2002, 02:33 PM
Originally posted by PropellerHead


I can check in two hours.

Feel free to PM or email me. Thanks

johnlew
08-06-2002, 08:12 PM
Originally posted by PropellerHead
And, FWIW, this is how I keep my motor: :angel:



Here's mine after cleaning it...

http://www.bimmerfest.com/members/johnlew/540/engine540.jpg

johnlew
08-06-2002, 08:13 PM
Propeller, re: the lenses...best you PM me. I can't get email at work. Thanks.

johnlew
08-06-2002, 08:13 PM
Originally posted by johnlew


Here's mine after cleaning it...

http://www.bimmerfest.com/members/johnlew/540/engine540.jpg

Your's is spectacular.:thumbup:

PropellerHead
08-06-2002, 08:37 PM
Originally posted by johnlew


Your's is spectacular.

Two boys with similar passions, I see...

E39 540's, E46 330's and keeping them clean.. Can't be all bad, I say... :thumbup: