: Polishing Headlights: Before and After Photos

06-17-2006, 07:55 PM
I know there's a lot of posts already on polishing plastic headlight covers, but I thought I'd post a before/after pic of my 97 528i with 157K miles on it. Time to replace my trusty ride (and get a newer E39 I may add), so I thought I'd fix 'er up. The polishing did wonders! I just wish I did it sooner.

You can see how gacked up and yellow they are after 157,000 miles of bugs, sandblasting, and oxidation.

After checking different methods on this and other forums, here's the "recipe" I ended up going with (partially determined by what they had at my local auto parts store).

I started by cleaning them with a mild soapy solution. (2 minutes per side).

I then masked off the edges to protect the paint. (2 minutes per side).

Then, I wet sanded, using a spray bottle of water with 600 grain paper, using an orbital motion. I saw after the fact some have recommended side to side motion, but orbital seemed to work for me. Left side, I probably under-did with the 600, but second one I spent about 15 minutes on.

Followed up with 1000 grain, spending about 15 minutes per side. For both wet sandings, I didn't use a lot of pressure; just a lot of repetitive motion.

At this point, the middle pic shows how hazy it is after the sanding.

I then used Meguiar's Scratch-X with a clean terry towel and probably spent about 25 minutes per side. I rubbed the snot out of it with the Scratch-X.

At that point, it was looking pretty good but certainly not finished. I followed up with Meguiar's Plast-X, and spent probably about 10 minutes per side applying that.

All tallied, you could probably do a good job in about 2 1/2 hours. Of course, your results may vary, check to make sure this procedure won't damage your headlight cover, etc., etc., but voila! I was very happy with the end result, and hopefully the pics speak for themselves. Sorry I didn't take them all from the same angle, but you get the idea.

Have fun!
Tom C. in Miami

07-18-2006, 12:27 PM
I just bought new glass Euro headlights... problem solved :)

07-19-2006, 10:47 PM
Just polished one of my headlights tonight and the results were shocking! I used micro-surface ACRYLIC HEADLIGHT LENSE RESTORATION KIT

It's $12 and a lotta elbow grease but here are the results...