Let there be light! Polish the headlights from the inside and outside.
Everyone knows the problem with cloudy headlight “glass”. It appears in our cars either from non-standard xenon or euro-light (i.e. always on dipped beam).
On our “glass” there are two layers of lacquer. One outside, protective. Thanks to him, the headlights are less sanded and protected from ultraviolet radiation (because of him plastic gets muddy). The second one is inside. What it is made for – I do not know.
So, under the temperature of the headlight cloudy inside. Presumably the lacquer (but as it turned out, not only). Therefore, polishing the headlight from the outside, we will not get a clear headlight.
It is easy to remove the headlights. Remove the decorative cover over the headlamps (8 clips). Bend “sickles” arches (clips, self-tapping screws). Starting from the bumper grille and up to half, so you can unscrew the self-tapping screws that hold the bumper. Unscrew these two self-tapping screws (one on each side) and start pulling off the top of the bumper along the headlights. There is no need to remove it completely. The gap is enough for removing the headlights. Now let’s remove the “chandelier”. There are two bolts at the top and 4 pawls. Two from above and two from below (fixed at the corners of headlights). We remove the headlights. Three bolts each (from the top of the headlights, from the bottom and the side (on the outside)). And one clip (on top, under the decorative plastic liner along the fender).
Just recently bought a polisher and pastes for polishing the body. But this will also work for the headlights. I took a Bosch GPO 14 CE Professional polisher. Pastes: 3M 51052 Abrasive Polish $ 51 3M 80349 Paste polishing finish $ 37 3M 50383 Polishing antigologramnaya $ 47 Wheels: 3M 50487 circle polishing green $ 11 3M 50488 circle polishing yellow $ 9 $ 3M 50388 circle polishing blue $ 9 Curls differ in rigidity. You need a different wheel for each paste.
Immediately I thought not to remove the protective varnish, but only to polish, so there would be more shine. But when I started polishing, I realized that nothing would work. There was a lot of pitting from rocks and the whole headlight still didn’t look good. So it was decided to do a deep polish with complete removal of the varnish.
For this, we need waterproof sandpaper 800, 1000, 1200, 1500, 2000, 2500. To start, we take 800 and start removing the varnish. If you are doing it for the first time, it is better to sand with soapy water so as not to scratch the plastic of the headlight. But I like it better without water, it is better to see what you are polishing, but there is a chance of making deep scratches. When the lacquer starts to peel off, you can see it visually. Where it is there, the surface will be glossy and where it’s gone, it will be matte. This is because plastic is soft and matte, while lacquer is hard and scratches less. The lacquer needs to be removed evenly, not rubbing the places where it is already gone, so as not to make “hollows/roughnesses”. After you have completely wiped off the lacquer, rinse with water, wipe it off and continue matting the entire surface with the 800 sandpaper. The force should be the same everywhere, as the depth of scratches from the abrasive. Grind in a circular motion. And change/clean the sandpaper as it gets clogged. Since clogged sandpaper starts to scratch unevenly and any stuck grit makes deep risks. After evenly matting with 800, wash and do the same with 1000, then 1200, 1500, 2000, 2500. Attention: you should not be lazy, the whole if you have not removed, for example, the risk of 800-sand with 1000 sandpaper, then do it the next gradations will be even more difficult and longer. And it may turn out that you have gone through all the stages, polished, and scratches remain, then you have to start over.
After each pass, the mat will become more transparent. And already after 2500 you can polish. To start with abrasive paste and a hard wheel (51052 and 50487 respectively). RPM 1500-2000. Apply the paste to the wheel and the headlight, smear it all over the surface and start polishing. Control the temperature, do not overheat the plastic. If you overheat it will start to melt and lose its shape. It can also become cloudy. That’s why we touch it with our hand to make it slightly warm. Then do the same with the finish (80349 paste and 50488 circle).
There is no point in polishing headlights with anti-gloss paste, because it is designed more for dark surfaces, and you will not see the difference on a transparent headlight.
You can take a headlight apart without using a hair dryer. It just takes longer and is more fussy. You can just start disassembling from the sharp edge (which is closer to the center of the car), gradually squeezing the necessary latches. To simplify, you can heat it locally with a hair dryer. Or, if there is a desire to bend, it is possible to make a heater from a cardboard box, having made a hole and having stuck a hair dryer there, having separated a stream of hot air by a cardboard partition. And yes, do not forget to unscrew the little star screw. It connects the glass to the case. It also needs to tighten the glass to make it even, and when you install the headlights on the car to be even with the gaps. Standard sealant, I decided to remove, because all the same dirt will get on it, and you can even get dirty with it. And there is a chance of not assembling hermetically.
The reflector. It is better not to touch it with your hands. If there is any dust, you can wipe it off with a soft, clean brush.
Inside the lacquer can be cleaned with isopropanol alcohol, you just dab a soft rag and start rubbing, it wipes pretty well and easily.
I immediately assumed that only the varnish was cloudy. And when the varnish was completely removed, it was clear that the plastic itself was cloudy. Okay, we take the abrasive paste and start polishing from the inside. There’s no need to sand with sandpaper. The clouding is not deep and goes quickly. After you have polished with abrasive paste, wipe it off and go over it with finish paste. Before polishing it is better to seal the inner ribbing with masking tape so you don’t have to clean the paste residue from there after polishing.
I used ABRO WS-904 windshield sealant tape instead of sealant. It is a sealant in the form of “sausage plasticine”. Took two meters ($ 7). About half left. Degrease two parts, roll out the “sausage” to our desired diameter and put it in a slot on the body of the headlight. Then we put the glass and press it so all the latches click into place. In addition, it is advisable to heat the perimeter with a hair dryer, pushing, so that it fits better.
Since the protective varnish was removed, for further protection of the headlight we have two options: 1) film. There are PVC and polyurethane. PVC is cheaper, but thinner, cloudy over time and less durable (i.e. worse protection). Polyurethane is more expensive, but it is not turbid, zasnachet more thickness better protects from mechanical influences. 2) varnish. Well, everything is clear here.
At the moment I decided to armor with polyurethane film ORACAL ORAGUARD Stone Guard Films 283. The same I armored with it new fog lights, which I received under the recall. Fog lights with this film have already covered 15 km of track. I got a bunch of extra chips on the hood/wings/bumper and a few chips on the windshield, and the fog lights are still shiny)) I don’t remember exactly how much I bought it for, but something like $65 a meter. We need about half a meter. The width of the roll is 152 cm.
And in the varnish I’ll always have time to pour)
So, we make soapy water, spread it on the headlight, glue the film, air and water are squeezed out with a squeegee. Then use a scalpel to cut off the excess around the edges. The main thing when gluing is to put the film in such a way that there is no unnecessary stress. Then you can be sure that it will not come off during operation.
After that you can happily run to put it back on the headlights.) And admire the refreshed look of the car).
Headlight polishing only affects modern cars, as new technologies and requirements for manufactured cars, forced automobile manufacturers to resort to the use of plastic glass on the headlamps instead of glass as it was before. This has both technical advantages and disadvantages caused over time of operation.
The outer layer of such glass scratches, dulls, covered with a layer of ingrained road dirt, under the influence of periodic heating from the lamps, and road conditions contribute – the constant attacks of small gravel does not remain unaffected on the surface of the block of headlights. The transmittance of such glass is noticeably reduced, and the appearance leaves much to be desired.
Car headlight before polishing
However, do not get upset and run to the store for new headlights. Polycarbonate glasses on headlights can be easily restored to their former appearance, and are not inferior to the new ones after the polishing process.
Technology of restoration of headlights transparency includes wet grinding with abrasive circles grading from P600 to P3000 to achieve an even and smooth surface, if there are scratches, and actually polishing, in order to achieve full transparency of optics. And if the surface is coated with a protective varnish, as is done at the factory, it will be as good as new and you won’t have to repeat this procedure a year later.
Tools and materials for polishing
So, to polish the headlight with our own hands we will need:
- Sandpaper for washing with a gradation of P600-1200, 1500, 2000 and P2500, it is better if it will be a paper brand SIA or 3M – the best abrasive and durability of paper simply can not be found.
Sandpaper for polishing
- Polish . The emphasis should be made on high abrasive, and maximum quality – polishing plastic is not as easy as it seems. That’s why it would be reasonable to choose the 3M polish number one. Item 09374 – it has the largest abrasive in its line. It actually polishes rather than grease. But on the “finish” you can also take the 09376 polishing paste, to create a glossy finish, and a polisher with a wavy surface.
- Well and of course polishing machine with foam wheel, as it is impossible to fulfill the process of polishing by hand.
Materials for headlight polishing
- As well as supplies, such as lint-free cloths, towel and degreaser.
Before you start polishing, be sure to wash and dry the headlight well. This way, you can accurately assess the degree of damage and determine the initial gradation of the emery wheel. When it is not only muddy, but has deep scratches, you will have to start sanding with a coarser grit to remove the damaged layer of plastic up to 0.1 mm.
In the cases when the headlight will not be dismantled and polishing will be done on the car – put a quality masking tape on all the adjoining parts of the body, so as not to damage it during the abrasive treatment.
How to properly polish
At first it is necessary to wash the glass, i.e. to wash with sandpaper the upper layer with embedded dirt, small chips and scratches. You need a coarser paper with 600 gradation. It is necessary to wash only the outer surface of the window with water and to wet the sandpaper with fresh water. Although there is an option and dry sanding, the surface is only wiped with a damp cloth after each stage, but it is still better if you do it on the wet. It is also necessary to watch for the absence of sand under the sandpaper – there is a possibility of further scratching the glass. The surface should turn out uniformly matte, without spots and other dullness, which are on the outside.
This is followed by more finishing with a grading of 1200-1500. With this number it is necessary to “knock down the risk” from the previous, coarser, number of sandpaper.
This stage should be performed until microscratches from the previous number are completely eliminated. To determine the degree of blurring with each successive number, you can perform movements in different directions.
Thus, it will allow you to see in a good light, whether microscratches from the previous number are overlapped.
The number 2000 is almost a finish, because it is too heavy for polishing, and it can’t do the job of polishing out its traces, but it can do a much smaller “risk” than anything else. In the finishing stage, when processing the surface with P2500 paper, it is worth giving more patience and making more effort. This is the last number, after polishing with which you should not see any traces of previous numbers, and the surface will be almost glossy and you can see the headlight reflector more clearly through the glass, though it is cloudy from washing.
Headlight after polishing with P2500 paper
Don’t forget to thoroughly clean (with a microfiber or rinse with water) the surface of the car headlight from abrasive residue and erased plastic particles before each transition to a finer grit.
After all these water procedures, the polishing process itself follows. When the sanding (washing) is done, we resort to cleaning the surface with a jet of water, you can not use a rag, because you will cause scratches with the rest of the abrasive. To polish your own, you must apply a small amount of polish on the glass of the headlight, not on the circle, rub it on the area, and polish machine until the surface is perfectly clear. For polishing, it is better to take not one but several multigrain pastes.
Polishing paste should not be very much, and the circle moistened only slightly, this will prevent rapid drying, weathered polish and good contact with the surface of the headlight.
Start the polishing procedure with a coarse paste and a stiffer wheel. RPM of the machine should not exceed 1500-1800 rpm.
But at this stage there are also a couple of points:
- It will be better if the headlight is removed and someone holds it firmly in their hands.
- You can’t keep the machine in one place for long – overheating the glass can cause it to crack, or darken on the inner layers, the so-called “overshoot”. Therefore, it is better not to press the wheel too hard, drive in a small selected range (about a third of the glass area), in different directions.
Then, after removing the abrasive remnants of paste, continue, but using a medium grit along with the same, less rigid wheel. And keep the speed at 2000-2500.
To finish, the process of polishing the headlights, can be fine and finishing pastes in combination with a soft wheel, traditionally removing the remnants of the previous, and its quantity is very small.
That’s basically all, but to consolidate the effect, you can do one more “finishing touch” – to apply a protective coating, similar to the factory – a special varnish. But the room in which you process the headlamp, as well as the air in it must be clean, otherwise the dust will settle on the surface and the work will be in vain. Such lacquer is applied not longer than 5-10 minutes with a lint-free cloth, moving down from the top corner of the headlight, so that the surface is treated with the overlap of the already traversed part.
Polishing headlamps on the inside
The back side of the headlamp glass is not exposed to mechanical and chemical influences, it only heats up and gets covered with dust. So this kind of polishing is not made – only cosmetic. Therefore, in the case where the car’s optics faded not only outside, but also inside, it will be necessary to resort to additional procedures. And first clean and then treat with a polishing fluid.
You can clean and polish the inside of the headlight in two ways (without disassembling it), using one of the means for cosmetic restoration of transparency.
First remove the headlight and take out all the bulbs. Then pour in polishing fluid and seal the holes with masking tape. And rub the headlight assembly for a few minutes. As a result, you will see how the color of the product will change, which will indicate that the cleaning process is going as it should. Repeat several times until the cleansing is visible: the color of the liquid will not change, the headlamp will be more transparent. The final step will be rinsing with water and drying with warm air.
Cleaning the inside of the headlamp
The second method
It is used when not the entire inner surface is cloudy, but only a spot appeared. Two magnets, a soft cloth and polishing fluid will help to remove it. Moisten one piece and wrap the magnet in it. Tie a thread to bring it inside. Wrap the second magnet as well, so as not to spoil the polishing work previously done on the outside. By moving it around the spot, you will be able to get rid of the clouding.
After such a long work done, you can be proud of yourself and the result achieved. After all, as you can see, to properly perform polishing with your own hands is not so simple. But your car will not only become more attractive, but also will please you with better lighting.
Car mechanic with 20 years of experience in repairing and servicing cars of different brands. Main focus: diagnostics and mechanics.