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Okay there are a few threads concerning this process....Here is one for using the 3M kit that any "XYZ" auto parts store sells for $20 bucks or so....

Pic of the kit....


Pic of un-restored headlights...2001 always parked outside & abused...not great lighting...but actually quite yellow, cloudy, and pitted....after being freshly washed...




In the kit is the drill mount rotary pad holder with velcro attachment for the sanding discs and polishing pads in the kit....


First step is a 500 grit sanding disc....


Apply to drill attachment....


Begin sanding headlight in smooth continuous circular motions until you achieve an overall chalky, translucent, opaque, suface with even sanding swirls all over....

Pic shows about 1/2 of the housing complete...


Fully sanded with the 500 grit...


NOTE: The kit contains more 500 grit sanding pads than any other...there is a reason.... use more of them so that they stay sharp and fresh....constantly wipe the excess material off the headlight while sanding. This step in the process is DRY sanding....do not use water ... Keep your sanding pad flat on the headlight (Don't roll up on the edge) this would cause you to actually groove a deep scratch into the lens. The drill attachment is a soft sponge type applicator so it will conform to the curvature of your headlight. Do not apply a lot of pressure, let the drill speed and the sanding disc do the work. Your ultimate goal is to achieve uniformity and smoothness.

Next step in the process is an 800 grit sanding disc....


All the same steps apply as above....This too is a DRY process....


Complete headlight after the 800 grit process....the "chalky, translucent" color will be noticibly less....


The next step is a WET process using a specialty 3000 grit sanding pad that has a rubber backing to it which is designed for the WET process as well as really conforms to your headlight....


Spray the headlight and the pad down with water....a good misting...not a drenching....


Misted headlight....


After several passes with the 3000 grit sanding pad...


When sludge builds up from this step...STOP and wipe it down....then re-mist it and continue.....use a tongue depressor or a paint scraper to help with keeping the sludge from building on the pad itself. There is only one of these pads in your kit.


Finished with this step....Your headlight should be back to almost new looking...and you haven't even started the polishing process yet...


NOTE: If you are not seeing the results you want at this point; then go back and repeat step 2. If you are still seeing deep scratches or pits; then go back to step 1 and take some more time with your sanding.

Final step is to apply polishing compound...Attach the polishing pad from the kit...


Open the 3M compound/polish from your kit....apply a good "quarter" size amount to your pad....




NOTE: When you apply the polish to your pad...DO NOT turn on the drill....DO NOT just turn drill over and set it on the headlight and then turn the drill on! If you do...be prepared to clean the polish off of everything within 15 feet of you in a 360 degree circle.

Instead, take your drill with the dollop of polish and just stamp it all over your headlight to distribute the polish everywhere first.

Headlight with polish stamped all over it...


Begin polishing....work all over the headlight...work from top to bottom and side to side....DO NOT polish one spot for too long at one time....keep the polishing pad moving. You should start very quickly to see results like this....


When done ... buff with a clean microfiber cloth....


Your final results will turn out great....I promise! :lol:



NOTE: Realistically, you need to apply some sort of UV protectant and polish after you have done this process. 3M and many others sell them on the car wash aisle at your favorite auto parts store. Have fun and good luck.
 

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I need to re-do my headlights. I used a kit which removed the yellow UV degraded stuff, but left the plastic milky looking (not clear). Someone at work said a "professional's" trick was to stop short of getting a perfectly smooth, clear finish and paint the surface with spray-can clear enamel. I tried that on one headlight with bad results. Then I lost interest and went driving. I need to work them over again but I'd like good results for my efforts. Are you happy with yours? Are they crystal clear, or did you end up with a milky result too? Did you work them on the car? I'm thinking of taking mine out this time. I hate masking the edges to protect paint, then being unable to polish to the edges.
 

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I use Blue Magic.Wipe on wipe off multiple times.Works good but needs to be done every few months or it comes back.No tools or sanding involved just 2 clean micro fiber towels and a lot of sweat.A buffer and a mild compound will do the same thing.
 

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As an alternative, I've had great success with an old-school method on about two dozen cars. It was actually the first thing I did to my MR when I bought it.

Need painter's tape, sandpaper in 1000, 1500, and 2000 grit, as well as Meguiar's PlasticX, rubbing compound, and polishing compound.

As an alternative to the painter's tape, you can pull the headlights from the car. I typically leave them in and painter's tape around the edges so I don't destroy the paint.
Starting with the 1000 grit, dip the sandpaper in a small bowl of water and wet sand the headlights using small circular motions. Dry with a towel. Repeat with the 1500 grit. Repeat with the 2000 grit. By this point the lights should be looking pretty terrible.
Then, using a wax applicator, rub the rubbing compound on. Buff off with a microfiber. Repeat. Then repeat with a clean applicator and microfiber with the polishing compound.
Following that, grab the PlasticX and rub it on the headlights with another applicator. Buff off with a microfiber. Repeat. This should get them nice & clear.

Lastly, follow it up with about six coats of wax, or wax until your arms get tired. Get in the habit of applying a few more coats of wax every time you wash the car. On a year round, outside parked daily driver, subject to PA levels of winter salt, this process will keep them clear for about two years before needing to repeat.
 

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I really appreciate the effort in this thread.

I have a question. Assuming ones light coves are already in decent shape, is there anything (a coating perhaps) that can be applied to KEEP them looking good?
 

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I have a question. Assuming ones light coves are already in decent shape, is there anything (a coating perhaps) that can be applied to KEEP them looking good?
About a year ago I installed new headlights, and eMailed 303_Products to ask that very question about their Aerospace Protectant product. Their response assured me that 303 Aerospace Protectant would preserve the headlight lenses in like-new condition.
So far, it has.
So far: One year on brand new, garage parked, units is not long enough to tell.
 

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Good article and nice photos. Thank you!
 

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I have tried most of those products and they look good for a while. Since the UV coating is now gone, they will not stay that way too long. I have even tried the wipe on UV protectorant - what I waste. I have finally tried another product which is a actual spray on UV coating. (LiteRight UV Coating) Not affiliated, in fact I had some ordering issues, which finally got resolved. They have a video on the site to show you how. This is my Highlander headlight which I did. I would suggest one can for each headlight, even though they say it will do more. Since you are spraying on a coating, if your spraying skills are lacking, might not want to try it or get someone who can. Also, it needs to be UV "cured", I did it on a very sunny day and parked in in the direct sun for a few hours or you can use UV lights - if you have them. I am extremely pleased with it. Bought some more to do my DD MR2 lights.

http://www.cureuv.com/uv-headlight-restoration.html

 

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Agree with curing UV protectant.

Used to make eyeglass lens. Once the lens script was ground into the poly lens, it was then coated with a UV protectorate. Then it was cured by a strong UV gearing bulb.
 

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Good news!
Can you tell us more about it?
How long does it last, in your experience?
Only 6-8 months, but seeing that it is a actual coating, probably thinker than the original OEM UV coating, I expect it to last longer than the car. The coating seems as hard or harder than paint. Following their directions for preparation is key, really not much sanding...less than the restoration kits. Wipe down with alcohol, still is very hazy, but then spay it on and it goes completely clear. Again, key is a good spray job. They do give lifetime warranty - if it ever peels or fades, new product.
 

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Crazing/spider cracks

My head lights have a great deal of crazing (tiny micro cracks). Will this method work for this problem? Thanks, Peter
 

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As an alternative, I've had great success with an old-school method on about two dozen cars. It was actually the first thing I did to my MR when I bought it.

Need painter's tape, sandpaper in 1000, 1500, and 2000 grit, as well as Meguiar's PlasticX, rubbing compound, and polishing compound.

As an alternative to the painter's tape, you can pull the headlights from the car. I typically leave them in and painter's tape around the edges so I don't destroy the paint.
Starting with the 1000 grit, dip the sandpaper in a small bowl of water and wet sand the headlights using small circular motions. Dry with a towel. Repeat with the 1500 grit. Repeat with the 2000 grit. By this point the lights should be looking pretty terrible.
Then, using a wax applicator, rub the rubbing compound on. Buff off with a microfiber. Repeat. Then repeat with a clean applicator and microfiber with the polishing compound.
Following that, grab the PlasticX and rub it on the headlights with another applicator. Buff off with a microfiber. Repeat. This should get them nice & clear.

Lastly, follow it up with about six coats of wax, or wax until your arms get tired. Get in the habit of applying a few more coats of wax every time you wash the car. On a year round, outside parked daily driver, subject to PA levels of winter salt, this process will keep them clear for about two years before needing to repeat.
That is exactly I how I did the lights on my '05 a few years ago and they still look almost new. The key is always sanding off the thin layer of faded plastic and buffing out the smooth clear plastic left behind.
 

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My head lights have a great deal of crazing (tiny micro cracks). Will this method work for this problem? Thanks, Peter
Nope, they're done for. If the cracking is outside, maybe some very heavy sanding can take them out, but the crazing is often inside.

Nonetheless, a good restore will make them look 100x better even with crazing.
 

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Whitening toothpaste works brilliantly too!

Here's the before and after photo. I did it 4 times over though then finishing with a polish+wax liquid (i used autoglym super resin polish). :chuncky:
 
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