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Hello guys, need your help as to why my headlights are not shining like they're supposed to. I bought some euro headlights (540 clear headlights) from the junkyard not too long ago with the intention of sanding/polishing them and throwing them on my wagon as I love the look of the clear corners with darker color cars.

Anyway, i finally had the time to tackle this and I used the Mothers headlight restoration kit, followed every step and even thought i might of overkilled it (While paying attention not to oversand).. But it still looks crappy, hazy, and has those weird uneven spots.

Steps as follows (using a milwaukee m12 drill):

- Clean headlight of any dirt
- Place 800 grit sand disk on drill and spray liberal amount of water on headlight while drilling. Spray away any residue that piles up. Wipe headlight and feel for any rough spots
- Place 1500 grit sand disk on drill and do the same as previous step
- Place 3000 grit sand disk and DRY sand until even smoothness. Wipe clean with a dry microfiber.
- Apply Mothers headlight polish with buffer ball. After coating everything, go over with a clean dry microfiber.

Not very happy with the outcome at all, and not sure what to do to make it more clear.


Pictures are showing a comparison with the polished headlight, and the untouched headlight. They pictures doesn't make it look that bad, but it really is hazy and my current headlights are much clearer and even they could use a polish.

Any ideas?
 

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I did the exact same thing with the exact same kit only a few hours ago and got the same results. I wanted to see how good it would work so I gave it a try.
Using the drill motor is just about the worst way to restore the headlights.
I've done plenty of micro mesh of aircraft windows over the years and this kit is not the best.
The best results are using your hand with a soft (foam) block to support the sand paper and plenty of water.
You and I both need to start over with perhaps a 320 or 400 grit wet/dry sand paper.
Go only in straight directions, left to right or up and down only.
With each finer grade of sand paper, change the direction of polish. If you were going from left to right with 400 grit, then go up and down with 800 grit.
I promise it'll work much better even though it might sound scary.
 

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I've had good results with using Mother's Metal Polish on an orange foam pad with a rotary polisher. You need to hold the headlight firmly in between your legs, lens up, and be somewhat aggressive with the polishing - results are great, just be sure to place it on a thick blanket so you don't break the rear of the light assembly. complete the polishing with a good car wax.
 

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Under the lift arms
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Ive always used drills to polish

keep it wet, (*i dont know why the headlights are out thats going to make it harder)

keep it wet.. applied force, spin fast, dont over heat If you dry out youll leave swirl marks
 

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I gave up and bought new housings...
 

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02/2012 X5 35d M57Y CPO 98K miles NOKIAN WR G3 12K miles
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Headlight cover assemblies are polycarbonate plastic. Polycarbonate covers have a scratch and UV resistant coating.

Surprisingly, UV blockers and absorbers for plastics are the same families of chemicals as sunscreen for skin.

Polycarbonate itself scratches easily and yellows with UV exposure. The clouding is the failure of the hard protective coating. Abrading it smooth is abrading away the protective coating and exposing the soft base polycarbonate material.

Polishing headlight covers is a fools errand that only benefits the salesman. Polish headlight covers just before you sell and say nothing. For a keeper, replace the assembly.

Ahhh, about using power polishers; polycarbonate glass-transition temperature is about 150°C, so the friction of power polishing more likely exceeds Tg than slow hand polishing. Glass transition temperature is the softening / embrittling temperature of a polymer.
 

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Headlight cover assemblies are polycarbonate plastic. Polycarbonate covers have a scratch and UV resistant coating.

Surprisingly, UV blockers and absorbers for plastics are the same families of chemicals as sunscreen for skin.

Polycarbonate itself scratches easily and yellows with UV exposure. The clouding is the failure of the hard protective coating. Abrading it smooth is abrading away the protective coating and exposing the soft base polycarbonate material.

Polishing headlight covers is a fools errand that only benefits the salesman. Polish headlight covers just before you sell and say nothing. For a keeper, replace the assembly.

Ahhh, about using power polishers; polycarbonate glass-transition temperature is about 150°C, so the friction of power polishing more likely exceeds Tg than slow hand polishing. Glass transition temperature is the softening / embrittling temperature of a polymer.
I was unable to find a Vulcan to English dictionary but as near as I can tell, you are in agreement that rotary power tools on your headlight is a bad idea.
Also, at least in my case, any UV protectant was long gone before I sanded the surface smooth. I suspect the same for the OP.
 

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If you want good results from your headlight lens restoration project follow this procedure below, this is what I did. I also employed in conjunction with the procedure below the 3M restore kit with a Dewalt electric drill as I had some deep gouges on the drivers side lens and it was as bad as any lens cover I have seen. I alternated with the drill sanding and wet sanding by hand. My case was different and more difficult than the normal wet sanding by hand only, I had a 6-8 inch swipe/gouge in the cover that took some extra effort to eliminate.
The 3M pad and scotch brite gives good results in the wet sanding process. Having a Porter Cable 7424XP is a real plus as I have that as well for the final polishing.

https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=302677

Rubbing some PlasticX a couple times a year on the lenses keeps them fresh.
Laminex sheets afterwards would be the best way to go. Mine turned out great and they have held up for 6 years plus.
 

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More sanding, that little kit isn't enough to do the job right. Might want to start with 600 and go everything again. A good bit of polish compound, then a wax,clear coat or Xpel to protect.
BMW Blue has a good link on whats needed
 

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the detailer at my shop does it with a rotory polisher, foam or wool pad, polishing compound and then a wax to seal it. Its good for about a year. replacing the assembly is not an option for me....more than what the vehicle is worth.
 

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More sanding, that little kit isn't enough to do the job right. Might want to start with 600 and go everything again. A good bit of polish compound, then a wax,clear coat or Xpel to protect.
BMW Blue has a good link on whats needed
Try a product called E2 Lens Re-new. Go to e2lensrenew.com, they have a YouTube video about how to use the product. I would suggest after you get the lens clear, spray it with Rustoleum 2X gloss clear. You can get it from Walmart. That way you won't have to redo this whole process
 

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Hello guys, need your help as to why my headlights are not shining like they're supposed to. I bought some euro headlights (540 clear headlights) from the junkyard not too long ago with the intention of sanding/polishing them and throwing them on my wagon as I love the look of the clear corners with darker color cars.

Anyway, i finally had the time to tackle this and I used the Mothers headlight restoration kit, followed every step and even thought i might of overkilled it (While paying attention not to oversand).. But it still looks crappy, hazy, and has those weird uneven spots.

Steps as follows (using a milwaukee m12 drill):

- Clean headlight of any dirt
- Place 800 grit sand disk on drill and spray liberal amount of water on headlight while drilling. Spray away any residue that piles up. Wipe headlight and feel for any rough spots
- Place 1500 grit sand disk on drill and do the same as previous step
- Place 3000 grit sand disk and DRY sand until even smoothness. Wipe clean with a dry microfiber.
- Apply Mothers headlight polish with buffer ball. After coating everything, go over with a clean dry microfiber.

Not very happy with the outcome at all, and not sure what to do to make it more clear.


Pictures are showing a comparison with the polished headlight, and the untouched headlight. They pictures doesn't make it look that bad, but it really is hazy and my current headlights are much clearer and even they could use a polish.

Any ideas?
snake oil, NONE of those products works for anything. They tend to clean up for a few weeks, then they looks worse. Just bite the bullet and by an aftermarket set on ebay.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I did the exact same thing with the exact same kit only a few hours ago and got the same results. I wanted to see how good it would work so I gave it a try.
Using the drill motor is just about the worst way to restore the headlights.
I've done plenty of micro mesh of aircraft windows over the years and this kit is not the best.
The best results are using your hand with a soft (foam) block to support the sand paper and plenty of water.
You and I both need to start over with perhaps a 320 or 400 grit wet/dry sand paper.
Go only in straight directions, left to right or up and down only.
With each finer grade of sand paper, change the direction of polish. If you were going from left to right with 400 grit, then go up and down with 800 grit.
I promise it'll work much better even though it might sound scary.
Yeah I was trying to avoid the whole hand sanding process as its not the bizness. But might have to suck it up and do it by hand. Sighh
I've had good results with using Mother's Metal Polish on an orange foam pad with a rotary polisher. You need to hold the headlight firmly in between your legs, lens up, and be somewhat aggressive with the polishing - results are great, just be sure to place it on a thick blanket so you don't break the rear of the light assembly. complete the polishing with a good car wax.
I think I'll also try another polishing compound, that might do the trick as well.
keep it wet, (*i dont know why the headlights are out thats going to make it harder)
I still have my stocks on my car. I didn't want to take off my current ones just to polish. And I'm glad I didn't because my stock headlights look better than what these turned out to be.

If you want good results from your headlight lens restoration project follow this procedure below, this is what I did. I also employed in conjunction with the procedure below the 3M restore kit with a Dewalt electric drill as I had some deep gouges on the drivers side lens and it was as bad as any lens cover I have seen. I alternated with the drill sanding and wet sanding by hand. My case was different and more difficult than the normal wet sanding by hand only, I had a 6-8 inch swipe/gouge in the cover that took some extra effort to eliminate.
The 3M pad and scotch brite gives good results in the wet sanding process. Having a Porter Cable 7424XP is a real plus as I have that as well for the final polishing.

https://www.bimmerfest.com/forums/showthread.php?t=302677

Rubbing some PlasticX a couple times a year on the lenses keeps them fresh.
Laminex sheets afterwards would be the best way to go. Mine turned out great and they have held up for 6 years plus.
I'll look through that thread, thanks! :thumbup:
More sanding, that little kit isn't enough to do the job right. Might want to start with 600 and go everything again. A good bit of polish compound, then a wax,clear coat or Xpel to protect.
BMW Blue has a good link on whats needed
Yeah I was thinking to myself that 800 was too smooth of a grit for the amount of scratches and pits in these headlights. Might bring it down to 500.
Try a product called E2 Lens Re-new. Go to e2lensrenew.com, they have a YouTube video about how to use the product. I would suggest after you get the lens clear, spray it with Rustoleum 2X gloss clear. You can get it from Walmart. That way you won't have to redo this whole process
Will check it out, thanks!
snake oil, NONE of those products works for anything. They tend to clean up for a few weeks, then they looks worse. Just bite the bullet and by an aftermarket set on ebay.
Again, I already have a clean set of headlights on my car right now. It's not hazy, could just use a small polish. I just wanted to revive these since I got them for cheap. Not looking too cheap anymore since I just keep buying polishing kits/materials :cry:
 

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If I were going to save these, or any pre-polished (abused) plastic headlamps, use Plexiglas Cleaner. I use to be able to find it in auto stores. It quite literally dissolves the top layer of plastic right off the cover. Then buff clear with terry cloth, just like car wax. If the lenses have been badly 'polished' (meaning scratched over or hazed over) use the cleaner a second time to take another layer off.
Then seal with car wax, or better yet, polymer sealer. Wax the headlights every time you wax the car from then out.

I have used this technique on multiple cars. One application was enough each time. Waxing preserved the almost factory clear finish for the life of the car. BTW, it also works on plastic convertible windows. Beware the window will be dangerously thin and not stand up to impacts from stones or other objects.
 

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Headlight Cleaning issues

Hi there.

I've had issues cleaning up the lights on my y2000 540i. The first time was a big let down as I used clear coat to finish the job, and hadn't paid enough attention to the drying conditions and it shrank, leaving scales all over the finished product. So had to do the whole job again. It did, finally, come up great, and the lights almost look brand new.

Here's what I did (by the way, all of this is by hand, no sanding "blocks", no power tools - that lets a lot of people down, unless you have really pro kit - you know, super expensive stuff - don't bother. You can get awesome results by just putting the right amount of time into DIY).

I removed my headlights from the car - its much easier to do the job, and you don't have to worry about sediment being blasted through the engine bay afterwards when going for a drive. Its a few bolts and electrical connectors, so no big deal.

Sanding - always wet sand. Use a spray bottle all the time, keep everything wet constantly, including spraying away any debris generated by the sanding.

400 Grit Wet sand - be a tad vicious.
600 Grit Wet sand - until both your arms fall off
1200 Grit Wet sand - ditto
2000 Grit Wet sand - and again. If just one arm hurts, you're not done :p

Never dry-sand headlights!

That should take a few hours, with a coffee break or two. Don't be lazy, get into all the corners nicely - take your time.

Then in perfect painting conditions (mainly stable temperature for a few hours - if you have to wait for the right day - do it) apply a light clear coat. allow 24 hours to completely dry (more, if paranoid). Then lightly polish/wax - and done!.

This is a genuine experience, and it worked very well.
HTH

m4.
 

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Headlight cleaning issues

I have used the Mothers kit with great results on a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a Volvo XC90 but I had to sand each with heavier grit first - those lenses had some really rough areas. I wet-sanded by hand (with 600 as I recall) first until all the rough areas were smooth to the touch, then wet-sanded by hand with each of the finer grades, including wet hand sanding with the 3000 to finish (I used the round hand-sanding block included in the kit). I did all of this on-the-car so I could apply good, even pressure while sanding. At each step I sanded, dried and felt the results to make sure all was evenly smooth, and repeated if necessary. Then used the buffer wheel and plastic polish in the kit. Close to like-new results, quite good compared with the original rough, foggy yellow! They have held up well for 2 years plus.

Other responders have apparently had good luck with other techniques; good luck either way!
 

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Hello guys, need your help as to why my headlights are not shining like they're supposed to. I bought some euro headlights (540 clear headlights) from the junkyard not too long ago with the intention of sanding/polishing them and throwing them on my wagon as I love the look of the clear corners with darker color cars.

Anyway, i finally had the time to tackle this and I used the Mothers headlight restoration kit, followed every step and even thought i might of overkilled it (While paying attention not to oversand).. But it still looks crappy, hazy, and has those weird uneven spots.

Steps as follows (using a milwaukee m12 drill):

- Clean headlight of any dirt
- Place 800 grit sand disk on drill and spray liberal amount of water on headlight while drilling. Spray away any residue that piles up. Wipe headlight and feel for any rough spots
- Place 1500 grit sand disk on drill and do the same as previous step
- Place 3000 grit sand disk and DRY sand until even smoothness. Wipe clean with a dry microfiber.
- Apply Mothers headlight polish with buffer ball. After coating everything, go over with a clean dry microfiber.

Not very happy with the outcome at all, and not sure what to do to make it more clear.


Pictures are showing a comparison with the polished headlight, and the untouched headlight. They pictures doesn't make it look that bad, but it really is hazy and my current headlights are much clearer and even they could use a polish.

Any ideas?
Few mistakes:
1. Use kit - they good to use for "make it somehow and sell"
2. Use drill - you can't control it from oversanding.
3. Use DRY sand - make deep scratches.

Now, use 600 or 800 and WET sanding by HAND, get rid of all junk you applied to headlights. Make sure there is no bumps and humps. Then 1000 wet sand, then would bee good around 1500 wet sand.
Then buff, DO NOT USE WOOL, only foam-rubber. Once headlight is clear, apply PPF (paint protection film)-since UV protection removed you have to have to replace it by something, most available kits offering thick clearcoat, which is not good if you looking for long lasting solution.
GL.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
If I were going to save these, or any pre-polished (abused) plastic headlamps, use Plexiglas Cleaner. I use to be able to find it in auto stores. It quite literally dissolves the top layer of plastic right off the cover. Then buff clear with terry cloth, just like car wax. If the lenses have been badly 'polished' (meaning scratched over or hazed over) use the cleaner a second time to take another layer off.
Then seal with car wax, or better yet, polymer sealer. Wax the headlights every time you wax the car from then out.

I have used this technique on multiple cars. One application was enough each time. Waxing preserved the almost factory clear finish for the life of the car. BTW, it also works on plastic convertible windows. Beware the window will be dangerously thin and not stand up to impacts from stones or other objects.
Thanks, will keep this in mind.. Maybe as a last minute solution
Hi there.

I've had issues cleaning up the lights on my y2000 540i. The first time was a big let down as I used clear coat to finish the job, and hadn't paid enough attention to the drying conditions and it shrank, leaving scales all over the finished product. So had to do the whole job again. It did, finally, come up great, and the lights almost look brand new.

Here's what I did (by the way, all of this is by hand, no sanding "blocks", no power tools - that lets a lot of people down, unless you have really pro kit - you know, super expensive stuff - don't bother. You can get awesome results by just putting the right amount of time into DIY).

I removed my headlights from the car - its much easier to do the job, and you don't have to worry about sediment being blasted through the engine bay afterwards when going for a drive. Its a few bolts and electrical connectors, so no big deal.

Sanding - always wet sand. Use a spray bottle all the time, keep everything wet constantly, including spraying away any debris generated by the sanding.

400 Grit Wet sand - be a tad vicious.
600 Grit Wet sand - until both your arms fall off
1200 Grit Wet sand - ditto
2000 Grit Wet sand - and again. If just one arm hurts, you're not done :p

Never dry-sand headlights!

That should take a few hours, with a coffee break or two. Don't be lazy, get into all the corners nicely - take your time.

Then in perfect painting conditions (mainly stable temperature for a few hours - if you have to wait for the right day - do it) apply a light clear coat. allow 24 hours to completely dry (more, if paranoid). Then lightly polish/wax - and done!.

This is a genuine experience, and it worked very well.
HTH

m4.
I have used the Mothers kit with great results on a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a Volvo XC90 but I had to sand each with heavier grit first - those lenses had some really rough areas. I wet-sanded by hand (with 600 as I recall) first until all the rough areas were smooth to the touch, then wet-sanded by hand with each of the finer grades, including wet hand sanding with the 3000 to finish (I used the round hand-sanding block included in the kit). I did all of this on-the-car so I could apply good, even pressure while sanding. At each step I sanded, dried and felt the results to make sure all was evenly smooth, and repeated if necessary. Then used the buffer wheel and plastic polish in the kit. Close to like-new results, quite good compared with the original rough, foggy yellow! They have held up well for 2 years plus.

Other responders have apparently had good luck with other techniques; good luck either way!
Sounds like Sanding by hand is the solution here. I was really trying to be as lazy as possible with the best results, but it sounds like that is not possible. :tsk:
Few mistakes:
1. Use kit - they good to use for "make it somehow and sell"
2. Use drill - you can't control it from oversanding.
3. Use DRY sand - make deep scratches.

Now, use 600 or 800 and WET sanding by HAND, get rid of all junk you applied to headlights. Make sure there is no bumps and humps. Then 1000 wet sand, then would bee good around 1500 wet sand.
Then buff, DO NOT USE WOOL, only foam-rubber. Once headlight is clear, apply PPF (paint protection film)-since UV protection removed you have to have to replace it by something, most available kits offering thick clearcoat, which is not good if you looking for long lasting solution.
GL.
Yeah, I was thinking about PPF after getting it where I want it.


Thanks guys for all your input!
 

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I tried several different products for my e39 528 with unsatisfactory results. Sold the car for other reasons. Bought e31with different headlight issues. However, my 2009 Subaru Outback (never garaged) encountered the similar hazing problems. Tried a Mothers product, unsatisfactory results. Next I tried Griot's Headlight Restoration Kit, followed the instructions precisely, including the four hour sunlight cure and totally SATISFACTORY results. The headlight work nearly as new. Griots warrants (for whatever it worth) two years. I'm now into month two condition is as if I just finished. Griots includes sanding pads. The key to me is follow the instructions, no deviations.

Keeping Subaru, Selling e31, Buying M3
 
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