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TIm_ 05-07-2008 11:41 AM

e39 replacement headlight lens
I'm sure this has been covered before, but I was wondering if anyone can clue me in on where to get replacement lenses for my e39.

They were completely yellow before, so I wet-sanded up to 2000 grit sandpaper and then polished them with Meguiar's plastic polish - so they look great now, however, the damn mechanic doing the inspection says there are still too cloudy. Nonsense!

rivercity 05-07-2008 11:48 AM

You can try looking at these......

By the way, why would you change them if you think they look nice, but your mechanic thinks there still cloudy? Are you trying to sell your 528?

TIm_ 05-07-2008 12:07 PM

I'm buying the car from my brother, but it needs to pass inspection first - and this is the only thing keeping it from passing.

rivercity 05-07-2008 12:19 PM

Wow that stinks, did you happen to check out that e-bay link?

There are some cheaper ones on there too? I mean if you think the ones you have now are in good condition, no reason to spend a lot of money, just get some cheap ones, pass the inspection then put yours back on.

PJB. 05-07-2008 12:38 PM

Rivercity got it right; get the ebay lenses with a clear corner as a bonus or even look for some that are cheaper if you don't want to keep them. You could also try removing the lenses and sanding the insides, as well as the outsides again.

TIm_ 05-07-2008 12:47 PM

Ya, I saw those - for some reason I thought you could get *just* the clear plastic part. Saw a set of used ones on ebay for cheap too - but can't tell from the picture if they look any better than mine.

I do know of a legal loophole to get around this problem. In Maryland, a vehicle can go from parent to child and vice versa without getting inspected, but not from sibling to sibling. I was hoping to avoid the extra hassle though.

I'm obviously new to the whole BMW thing, so thanks for the help.

PJB. 05-07-2008 12:57 PM

^^ Well, it's gonna be a hassle to:

1) Buy some new headlight covers and swap them out, even if you don't want them.
2) Re-polish the exisiting headlight covers.
3) Transfer the title of car to a parent, then to you.

You just need to ask youself which is the least amount of hassle.

FYI, you cannot just get the clear plastic part of the lenses. It's all or none. Good luck and keep us updated on your decisions.

Boelke 05-07-2008 01:53 PM

Too cloudy? I did the same thing to my lenses as you did and they were practically Yellow, now they look almost new. Are yours still cloudy?

TIm_ 05-07-2008 02:17 PM

Well these were REALLY yellow - to the point you could hardly see the lights behind them in the day time.

Here's what they look like now. I guess I could sand them more - but I thought these would be enough to pass:

defcon6 05-07-2008 02:30 PM


Originally Posted by rivercity (Post 3235015)

What's the process for replacing these? Do I have to bake my original headlights in the oven in order to separate the lens?

**Edit: Just realized that these are the lens for pre 2001 headlights.

PJB. 05-07-2008 08:44 PM

TIm I would HIGHLY recommend you polish them again. Did you stop at 2000 grit or something? It looks like you skipped the final step with rubbing compound. Re-read the following two DIYs:

I successfully polished my old e39 headlights and unsuccessfully polished my glass fog lights. Trust me, the headlights are much easier. I'm not dissing your polish job, I'm just saying that there's a considerable amount of room for improvement.

PJB. 05-07-2008 08:47 PM


Originally Posted by TIm_ (Post 3234993)
They were completely yellow before, so I wet-sanded up to 2000 grit sandpaper and then polished them with Meguiar's plastic polish - so they look great now, however, the damn mechanic doing the inspection says there are still too cloudy. Nonsense!

Therein lies your problem. You should use 3M rubbing compound between the 2000 grit sanding and the plastic polish. On the first DIY to which I linked, the guy was able to get away without using rubbing compound. For whatever reason, it worked. In your case it didn't. I had the exact same lights as you and got awesome results using 3M. It looks like you still have some 2000 grit scratches on there. Hit it with the rubbing compound first, then polish again. Trust me on this it'll look a lot better.

Boelke 05-08-2008 06:26 AM

I did 400, 1000, 1500, 2000 grit (all wet sanding) and then straight to Maguire's Plastix without the compound in between. I did find an attachment for my drill with just a plain old "sponge type" buffer that I did put the Maguires on so I could get a little more action than just doing it by hand. I got the Maguire's and polishing wheel all at Pep Boys if you have one in your area.

I live in Florida and the sun damage to the lenses was very, very deep. I sanded like crazy at the 400 grit level, then just meticulously at the other levels, then I did the buffer very little in fact, but the buffing with Maguire's at the end is what made them almost crystal clear. My lenses were so sun damaged and Yellow that you couldn't even tell how many headlights were in each unit. Now I did take them off the car to be even more accessible and I wet sanded them in my kitchen sink, the wife really appreciated that part.

My headlights look almost brand new, if I can get mine there I know you can get yours there.

TIm_ 05-08-2008 10:30 AM

I got some rubbing compound - they didn't have 3M so I went w/some Turtle Wax. I'm going to give it one more shot and see how it goes.

Thanks for the input guys!

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