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Hi,

I have a 2011 550xidrive with 110,000 miles and needless to say the headlight lenses have become foggy, cloudy over time. I have been reading that you can't really just replace the headlight covers so does anyone know of a fool proof way to get them clear again? I have NO issue with condensation. I have replace the bulbs and it has helped a bit, but not much.

My BMW SA says he doesn't know of any way to do it without replacing the whole headlight assembly and that price is rediculious.

Any feedback would be appreciated.
 

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Why risk water leak replacing cover of headlight when you can simply do a headlight restoration. Check with the professional car detailers in your neighborhood or get the cleaning package online and do it yourself if you have a garage or driveway.
 

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Buy some Meguiars Ultimate compound at Oreillys or walmart.
Do a test spot and you will be surprised.

A machine (DA or rotary) or drill with backing plate is easier but it is doable by hand.
Not many durable sealants available over the counter but I would pick Turtle Wax ICE paste if I had to.
I think it is a tick better than Meguiars Ultimate wax.


Save the sandpaper unless they are peeling.
 

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You might consider removing them to do the polishing. That would prevent some horrible accidents (grinding into the paint on the bumper or hood).

I got some grief for suggesting this before. But, living in the Sunshine State and keeping my last three cars over twelve years has made me an expert on foggy headlights, and on sunlight damage in general. You can mitigate the damage by varying the direction the car is parked in the daytime. Frau Putzer's parked her Honda Accord facing west at work. The Accord had a particularly pointed nose. Her left headlight lens (facing SW at work) was fried to a crisp. Her right lens (facing NW at work) looked like new.
 

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02/2012 X5 35d M57Y CPO 105K miles NOKIAN WR G3 20K miles
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Hi,

I have a 2011 550xidrive with 110,000 miles and needless to say the headlight lenses have become foggy, cloudy over time. I have been reading that you can't really just replace the headlight covers so does anyone know of a fool proof way to get them clear again? I have NO issue with condensation. I have replace the bulbs and it has helped a bit, but not much.

My BMW SA says he doesn't know of any way to do it without replacing the whole headlight assembly and that price is rediculious.

Any feedback would be appreciated.
There are two different processes that of which you are observing the effects.

The clouding is the polymer plastic surface being abraded by road trash. You can grind, polish and buff that out, and it may take some of the yellowing with it.

The yellowing is caused by Ultraviolet crosslinking the polymer (like meat gets tough and tires get dry rot). The plastic includes an UV blocker but the light has to penetrate some to encounter a blocker molecule so everything shallower gets yellowed. When you grind away the roughness you are also grinding away UV blocker.

Surface coatings will abrade and the plastic will yellow faster and faster. I tried to find a concise explanation and failed. The shortest that I found was Wikipedia article Solarization but it has lots of internal link URL in its paragraph.
 
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