I’ve been a lurker on the site for a while now. After all the help you guys have done w/ fixing my truck or How To’s, I’ve decided it’s time to return the favor.
For a while, I’ve been looking at getting new headlights. It was hard to justify the price Recon or the dealer was asking. So on a cloudy afternoon, I decided to restore them myself…
Before (bottom) / After (top)
Side by side comparison
I’ve tried the 3M and Meguire’s kit. Both did not hold up very long.
I did everything by hand. I have a palm sander, which probably would have made things easier. However, I didn’t want to sand too much and damage the lights. (Just food for thought in case you go this route.)
-Windex (or other surface cleaner)
-Sandpaper, grits 600 – 2500
(if you are not in a hurry, I suggest Micro Mesh over sandpaper.)
-Mother’s or other metal polish (I’ll explain later…)
-Elbow grease (Lots of it)
Remove your headlights. This makes sanding in front of the TV a lot easier. It was kind of difficult to get my truck into the living room… =s
Prepare a work area. (Lay a towel over a coffee table.)
Layout all your materials. This way it’s all in front of you.
Pour yourself a beer. Turn on the TV.
the headlight. No, really clean it, not just wipe it.
Essentially, you’re repeating the process over and over, raising the grit count each time.
Start with the lowest grit. If you have Wet/Dry sand paper (or MicroMesh), use the Windex as a lubricant on the light.
Personally, I did each level grit TWICE on the headlight. It’s not so much of a big deal with the lower grits. The goal is to remove as much of the previous grit scratches as possible, by sanding them down with a higher grit. If you skip over an area, it’ll be a bitch to get it out with a much higher grit (ex: 2500 trying to buff out 600 grit scratches = wasting time.)
When you think you’re done sanding, sand a little more.
Finally, CLEAN THE LIGHT AGAIN. You do not want left over sanding particles of a lower grit being included on your higher grits (see above about wasting time).
That’s essentially it. Just keep sanding, raising the grit level, and cleaning.
When you're sanding, the light will "haze" up at the lower grits.
You'll think to yourself, "Holy shit! What have I done!!!"
Keep calm and sand on.
Once you finish your highest grit:
Use the rubbing compound on the light, as per the directions on the container. I used Meguiar’s rubbing compound for clear coats.
Clean the light again.
Use Mothers as you did the rubbing compound.
Essentially, these pastes (Rubbing Compound and Metal Polish) are slightly abrasive. They work by “sanding” the surface, but they are a higher grit than any of your sandpapers. I used Mothers because it also fills in the scratches that I may have missed.
CLEAN THE LIGHT.
Meguiar’s Plast-X is a filling paste. It fills in all the scratches that were left from the previous methods. I used about 3 coats of this stuff. Use it liberally.
Do *NOT* clean the light. You will wash off the Plast-X.
Use the headlight sealer (outside, it smells) on the head lights. Allow 10m to pass, then wipe it down with a clean rag. I did this about 2 or 3 times.
Install the headlights back on the truck.
If you can, put a little bit of wax or quick detailer on the lights to protect them from further scratches.
There you have it.
If you’re looking to get new lights, this may be an option for you. I can see much better at night and the lights look brand new.
After about a few weeks, some scratches may appear again. Just use Plast-X, the sealer, then wax.
Hope this helps!