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Guest Message by DevFuse

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restoring headlight lenses

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30 replies to this topic

#1 wally


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Posted 07 September 2010 - 07:06 PM

just finished using permatex product to restore the exterior surface of headlights.

the headlights on my '95 legacy were very yellow, full of tiny cracks and swirls in the surface of the lenses. after about 2.5 hours of work, the headlight lenses, although not quite in new condition, are now very clear without yellowing. 95% of the swirls and cracks are gone, too.

i paid less than $20 for the kit, far less than the cost of replacing both headlight lens assemblies with new ones. very simple to use, no mechanical skills needed, just some patience.

the road is now brighter, too. :-\

#2 rainman19154


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Posted 07 September 2010 - 08:03 PM

Those kits do work well, by all accounts.

I hand treated mine with rubbing compound. They're not perfect or near new but at least they do light the way now. Time invested hand rubbing is directly related to how much improvement there is in the light level.

The kits generally include the buffing wheel to chuck into a drill - obviously it makes the task much easier and probably does a better job than my hand rubbing.
I'm just too cheap to buy one.

#3 idosubaru


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Posted 08 September 2010 - 06:40 AM

it's scary how bad mine were and realizing how many are out there still like that. the stuff works well and highly recommended for anyone wanting better and safer lighting.

#4 ScoobySchmitty


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Posted 08 September 2010 - 09:59 AM

When I was visiting home recently my Dad was cleaning his Jimmy's headlights with Meguiar's Plastic X. My Legacy's headlights had a slight haze, so I used some and got to rubbing. Nice and clear now, makes a heck of a difference in brightness. Changing my oil at night not long after, when cleaning up I left her running outside the garage. I made the mistake of looking back and was immediately blinded by two suns! :D I did notice when using the Plastic X that I had a bunch of little pits and dings in the plastic. Would the Permatex kit fill these in?

#5 wally


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Posted 09 September 2010 - 08:07 AM

the permatex kit isn't complicated. it includes 1000, 1500, 2000, and 2500 grit abrasive paper, and a polishing compound with flannel cloth.

the abrasives (sandpaper/emery) gradually smooth the surface, removing most of the pitting and cracking. depends entirely on how deep the cracks in the surface are as to how much will be removed. after finishing with the 2500-grit, the polishing compound is applied, which fills in the minor surface imperfections and produces a pretty smooth, clear surface.

the yellow haze in the lens surfaces was completely removed, and most of the pits/scratches/swirls were removed (but not all of them).

truthfully, the only thing you'd really need from the permatex kit is the polishing compound, as you could purchase emery cloth easily.

follow the instructions in the kit, and it should work pretty well.


#6 davebugs


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Posted 09 September 2010 - 09:05 PM

The kits I've used have basically a clear coat that comes on little wipes.

The sanding/buffing I think we could all come up with ways to do. But thic clear sealer which stops them from getting bad again quickly is the ingredient I can't figure out how to source by itself.

#7 Bash


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Posted 09 September 2010 - 10:06 PM

Tooth paste will work also.

#8 chef_tim


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Posted 13 September 2010 - 04:46 PM

I used the 3M kit ($13 from Amazon) and it was amazing:eek: Mine came out like they were new lenses.
Posted Image Posted Image

#9 wally


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Posted 14 September 2010 - 08:17 AM


pretty much exactly the "before" and "after" condition of my lenses, using the permatex kit.


#10 True2Blue


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Posted 01 October 2010 - 12:45 PM

i used the rainx kit.. too time consuming.. i do alot of headlights i use a matco cut off tool with a piece of folded microfiber lens cleaning cloth bolted to it and 3M rubbing compound. i only use 2500 grit when its seriously rough

i have a 2000 dodge intrepid in the shop that needs headlight restoration so ill do that now to show you how well it works ill even time it :grin:

#11 True2Blue


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Posted 01 October 2010 - 01:07 PM

UNDER 2 MINUTES to from this

Posted Image

to this.
30 seconds into it
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and a quick result in under 2 minutes
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with these tools

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the rainx kit took waaaay too long and i broke a sweat sanding lol.

i left some of the headlight foggy to show how well it cleans and its super fast.. ill make a video with a timer if anyone wants to see :grin:

note i can make these way better with a little more compound and time but im showing you just how fast and easy this is

Edited by True2Blue, 01 October 2010 - 01:26 PM.

#12 monstaru


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Posted 05 December 2010 - 04:12 PM

The kits I've used have basically a clear coat that comes on little wipes.

The sanding/buffing I think we could all come up with ways to do. But thic clear sealer which stops them from getting bad again quickly is the ingredient I can't figure out how to source by itself.

this is where i am at.what do i use to coat it after wards?my time is valuable these days and i need to do this to my ol'ladies rig again.cheers

#13 SubaruFred


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Posted 12 January 2011 - 04:07 PM

The turtle wax kit works great too. It comes with a chemical cleaner/sanding lubricant, 5 grades of abrasive pads and a 1-time use UV sealant.

Now I just need to restore my scratched up windshield. I'm looking for a suitable polishing compound.

#14 69satellite


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Posted 19 April 2011 - 01:58 PM

i've always just used different grits of paper then polishedby hand. takes awhile though. and a coat of wax on the lense after seems to help keep it looking good

#15 1-3-2-4


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Posted 25 June 2011 - 08:36 PM

I did not read the whole thread yet but I used 1000 and 2000 grit sandpaper with a little water and plastix-X..

Looks good.. but my car stays outdoors so in about a week or 2 my headlights are back to looking hazy again..

Anyone know of a product that helps long term?

#16 Ricearu


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Posted 27 June 2011 - 03:57 PM

yep. long term solution

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Posted Image

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my method exactly.

wetsand with 600 (if it's real bad) 800 if its not)

wetsand with 1000

clean and dry headlight

tape off area for overspray

the lens should be very white and cloudy (make sure you sand off all the yellowness)

Paint the lens with a UV safe, non yellowing clear coat. GLOSS. I used krylon.

let the clear dry, and remove the tape and masking.

the clear coat will fill the scratches and level out and make it so smooth you will not need to buff them at all


#17 Frank B

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Posted 12 July 2011 - 10:26 AM

I wet sanded mine too. First with 1000 grit paper, then 1500 grit, then 2000 grit. Each time going untill my hands hurt. You can see the plastic coming off in the water! Then let them dry, then use PlastX polish and they look good as new. I think I paid $10 for the paper and polish, and did two vehicles with it and still have polish left for other stuff.

#18 curtisbad


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Posted 07 August 2011 - 04:13 PM

got exactly the same results using ultra brite toothpaste. bought it at the dollar general for $1. i read about it on a post here....just can't remember where exactly. curtis

#19 slow be

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Posted 06 December 2011 - 09:06 PM

I used the 3M lens cleaner kit with really great results, too.

#20 porcupine73


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Posted 07 December 2011 - 09:10 AM

I just did my soobs with 3M plastic cleaner, then the 3M headlight polish/protector, based on those products having good reviews at Amazon. I was pretty pleased with the relatively low cost and speed that it worked. I just used a cloth to apply them. Granted I did have to go over them several times to get a good result, but they are now pretty clear. They weren't terribly frosted over before but they were far from clear.

#21 darkducati


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Posted 22 December 2011 - 12:33 AM

Another more long term option after polishing is to cover them the clear headlight films on eBay. They don't cost much and will prevent further damage from road debris.

#22 subie94


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Posted 22 December 2011 - 09:31 PM

yep. long term solution

Posted Image


yup,i got same result when i did my Outbacks lenses today..wondering if i should of wet sanded too..they weren't as bad as yours but did get major difference with the turtle wax stuff..

Not sure why i waited so long to do it..(have owned her since Sept)

#23 zukiru



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Posted 23 December 2011 - 03:04 AM

this is why I buy XTs
glass is good.

but my girlfriends eclipse...


#24 1-3-2-4


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Posted 30 December 2011 - 09:53 PM

Question I can't remember if I asked this before but.. OK so you wet sand lights or if it's not that bad polish it and all.. now people say to use a clear film over the lights.. but then I hear people say the lights will still haze and yellow over time?

it's like I hear two different opinions over this.

#25 shadow



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Posted 30 December 2011 - 10:56 PM

I am thinking of picking up a Meguairs kit for my headlights, it comes with the polishing wheel for the drill and the PlastX polish compound. I used the Permatex kit by hand on my wife's old car and it took way too long for my tastes!

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