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E34 (1989 - 1995)

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  #1  
Old 05-03-2013, 12:13 PM
allenbee allenbee is offline
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White residue on the inside of headlights

I'm sure many of us have this problem. White residue on the inside of the headlamp's lens. It is difficult to get to through the orifice at the back of the light canister. You can't even put in a paintbrush and get the whole lens.

I thought I'd try since I had to remove everything for bodywork. Well after some experimentation and one destroyed headlight, here is the solution.

First, put alot of very small ballbearings, or rice, into the headlamp. Nothing that immediately gets soggy with water. It should fill up most of the lens when held downwards. Then, add a little water with soap, to make it heavier. The heaviness is important.

Then shake it from right to left for maybe 5 minutes. Not gentle but not violent either.

Its ok if the chrome reflector gets hit. It won't peel off.

After a short while of this, pour out the old water and pour in fresh water and repeat. Then pour everything including the rice out. You'll have to fill the light with water and pour it all out to get all the rice etc out. Then dry out with hair dryer set to low, or leave aside to dry. The lens must be bone dry before you reinstall the bulbs.

The inside of the lens will be new ! White stuff gone. Looks great. However, the outside of the lens will still remain pitted. idk how to fix that. But the pits can only be seen close up.

I tried brakeleen, carb cleaner, gasoline, water, and soapy water. Mixed up and left standing. When the liquid was in there, the lens looked clean. As soon as it was poured out and dried, the white stuff came back.

Only rice was practical enough to be abrasive, cheap and easily removed, and light and blunt enough not to damage anything with firm shaking. The abrasiveness is the only thing that will remove the white stuff from the inside of the lens.

Don't leave water standing in the lens for too long. The chrome reflector coating on the inside peels off when you shake it up after that. I filled mine with rice and soapy water and left it standing overnight and learnt this the hard way. Well it was just one lens.

Last edited by allenbee; 05-03-2013 at 12:25 PM.
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  #2  
Old 05-09-2013, 08:04 AM
funfunfer funfunfer is offline
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Location: Montgomery, TX
 
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Mein Auto: 91 M5, 88 M5, 97 Exploder
thanks.

I will give this a try today. I have a second set of lights, just in case.
Thanks for the write-up.
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  #3  
Old 05-10-2013, 06:12 AM
gmnmsclM540i's Avatar
gmnmsclM540i gmnmsclM540i is offline
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Mein Auto: e60 545i e34 540 e32 740
Re: White residue on the inside of headlights

Quote:
Originally Posted by allenbee View Post
I'm sure many of us have this problem. White residue on the inside of the headlamp's lens. It is difficult to get to through the orifice at the back of the light canister. You can't even put in a paintbrush and get the whole lens.

I thought I'd try since I had to remove everything for bodywork. Well after some experimentation and one destroyed headlight, here is the solution.

First, put alot of very small ballbearings, or rice, into the headlamp. Nothing that immediately gets soggy with water. It should fill up most of the lens when held downwards. Then, add a little water with soap, to make it heavier. The heaviness is important.

Then shake it from right to left for maybe 5 minutes. Not gentle but not violent either.

Its ok if the chrome reflector gets hit. It won't peel off.

After a short while of this, pour out the old water and pour in fresh water and repeat. Then pour everything including the rice out. You'll have to fill the light with water and pour it all out to get all the rice etc out. Then dry out with hair dryer set to low, or leave aside to dry. The lens must be bone dry before you reinstall the bulbs.

The inside of the lens will be new ! White stuff gone. Looks great. However, the outside of the lens will still remain pitted. idk how to fix that. But the pits can only be seen close up.

I tried brakeleen, carb cleaner, gasoline, water, and soapy water. Mixed up and left standing. When the liquid was in there, the lens looked clean. As soon as it was poured out and dried, the white stuff came back.

Only rice was practical enough to be abrasive, cheap and easily removed, and light and blunt enough not to damage anything with firm shaking. The abrasiveness is the only thing that will remove the white stuff from the inside of the lens.

Don't leave water standing in the lens for too long. The chrome reflector coating on the inside peels off when you shake it up after that. I filled mine with rice and soapy water and left it standing overnight and learnt this the hard way. Well it was just one lens.
Ever try rinsing your fuel filters out with water? I've seen this type of thread before

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  #4  
Old 05-11-2013, 12:23 PM
Mamij Mamij is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmnmsclM540i View Post
Ever try rinsing your fuel filters out with water? I've seen this type of thread before

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So says the only poster we've seen who has managed to destroy something (fuel filter) that was designed to be bathed over years in a corrosive chemical (gasoline), with something that is mild enough to bathe babies with (water), and after just a few minutes. lol

Don't knock something just for the heck of it. Noobs might believe you.

The OP's point is that the white stuff on the inside of the lens doesnt' dissolve, even in gasoline. While wet with the stuff, it turns, clear, but when dry, the white stuff comes back. Its stuck to the lens. *Residue*. It needs to be wiped off physically.

The hole at the back of the headlight's casing is too tight to put a cloth or paintbrush in to physically wipe the inside of the lens. You need to hold one in your hands to understand this. I have.

I've read that you can bake the lens and casing in an oven to separate the two, to wipe the inside of the lens with cloth. I've also read that you'll have problems resealing it back permanently after that - people who tried that had water seepage soon after. Can't beat the factory's seal. It is Hella or Bosch and not made in CHINA! for a reason. Bought brand new china lights once and water was in there within 2 months.

The OP's idea is just neat. Wet rice, ballbearings, etc shaken not stirred about inside the casing. You get to physically clean the len's inside fully, and without breaking the water seal, and damaging the reflectors. No complicated baking and resealing etc. Its not about solvents. Who would have thought ? I guess its something that strikes you if you're holding the headlight in your hands and looking at it.

And his one destroyed lens shows you what not to do. Short term exposure won't peel off the chrome reflector. Overnight exposure will.

New Hella lenses costs anything from $50-$100 each on ebay. The OP's method costs less than a dollar and an hour's work for the whole set. And you get something that looks nearly new.

I really wouldn't mind more ideas and more end-to-end DIYs like this.

OP, the pitting on the outside of your lenses can be polished down with low grit sandpaper, or polishing compounds. Many writeups on that on google. Do check them out, to finish the job on your lights.


MMJ


p.s. For the record, I actually have rinsed my fuel filter with water before. No problem when back in the car. I don't bother with it since fuel filters are cheap and they last pretty long if you don't pump in the boonies, if ya git me.
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  #5  
Old 05-11-2013, 12:36 PM
Mamij Mamij is offline
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And here's another method. Polident denture cleaner. Looks like it works better than gasoline to clean the inside of the lens. Needs to be set overnight though.

http://forums.bimmerforums.com/forum...Glass-Cleaning
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  #6  
Old 05-11-2013, 02:48 PM
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gmnmsclM540i gmnmsclM540i is offline
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Re: White residue on the inside of headlights

[QUOTE=Mamij;7577970]So says the only poster we've seen who has managed to destroy something (fuel filter) that was designed to be bathed over years in a corrosive chemical (gasoline), with something that is mild enough to bathe babies with (water), and after just a few minutes. lol

Ouch!



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  #7  
Old 05-13-2013, 12:30 AM
paperplane94 paperplane94 is offline
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baking instructions:
http://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/sho...43&postcount=5

I baked mine open and resealed with contractors grade silicone sealant, no leaks. In fact, I opened my lenses because there was some moisture forming inside the housing.
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