snailman153624

Cleaning Your Nasty Piss-yellow Headlights

98 posts in this topic

well, i tried it today, using this:

img-220894-1-333a8ed8.jpg

It worked..... kinda..

before:

img-220894-2-d542cc93.jpg

after:

img-220894-3-c1c2ec30.jpg

I guess i gotta leave it on longer/rub more/do when cooler/do more often.

Edit: sorry for the huge pics... i forgot to crop

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Thank you, guys! Turtle Wax Chrome Polish $2.36

Before:

CIMG9224s.JPG

After:

CIMG9226s.JPG

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Is there some sort of special method to this? I have that EXACT same chrome polish (as the poster before me has) and it didn't work all that well..

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Is there some sort of special method to this? I have that EXACT same chrome polish (as the poster before me has) and it didn't work all that well..

how are you applying the stuff? wipe on/wipe off?

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Is there some sort of special method to this? I have that EXACT same chrome polish (as the poster before me has) and it didn't work all that well..

how are you applying the stuff? wipe on/wipe off?

in the same method one would use to wax a car ... applicator wax on, terry towel wax off.. maybe i'm not doing it hard enough.

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Thanks for all the great tips guys!

I will try the Wax/Polisher/2000 Grit wet-dry method.

I used Permatex Lens Cleaner Kit to clear up the little Bubble-level windows on the headlights and it worked.

The kit consists of plastic polish, lint-free cloth, and various grit wet-dry sandpaper.

The windows went from yellow-fogged to almost new/crystal clear. Just use the wet-dry sandpaper starting with the roughest (800). Use up-down pattern, then next grit(1000), use side-t0-side motion/pattern, next grit, up-down pattern, etc... till you get to 2000 grit. Then use Plastic polish/Wax, whatever. A power poisher works very well.

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in the same method one would use to wax a car ... applicator wax on, terry towel wax off.. maybe i'm not doing it hard enough.

seems plausible.... you're polishing - pretend its an oxidized brass hunk of metal something or other... gotta put some elbow grease into it ;)

-----

I used 3M finesseIt II/III and orbital buffer ;) Its an abrasive polish that breaks itself down into finer bits until it turns to dust. Clean/clear in less than 30 seconds each ;)

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in the same method one would use to wax a car ... applicator wax on, terry towel wax off.. maybe i'm not doing it hard enough.

seems plausible.... you're polishing - pretend its an oxidized brass hunk of metal something or other... gotta put some elbow grease into it ;)

-----

I used 3M finesseIt II/III and orbital buffer ;) Its an abrasive polish that breaks itself down into finer bits until it turns to dust. Clean/clear in less than 30 seconds each ;)

Yeah I decided to give it another go ... I put enough elbow grease in it to make my elbows fall off..

Check it out here: http://chrisgarcia.com/gallery/v/other/cars/mazda/lenses/

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Just cleaned my talon's headlights with Turtle Wax Chrome Polish:

Before:

img-251975-1-talon3-1.jpg

After:

img-251975-2-talon6-1.jpg

Before:

img-251975-3-talon4-1.jpg

After:

img-251975-4-talon7-1.jpg

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Hey guys, just wanted to let you know I tried using brake cleaner on my headlights and it worked like a charm!

On the left is the uncleaned headlight, and the right is cleaned; but the pictures don't really show how much better it actually got!

img-252413-1-dscf0061hh8.jpg

The culprit :lol:

img-252413-2-dscf0062dp8.jpg

On a side note, does anyone know how I can strip the paint off my grill emblem and make it shiny?

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heres what i do. I grab a san paper thats one of the thin ones [they look gray ish] and you do it till the yellow is gone

next you buff the lights

once this is done then you put in a plastic seal which will make them clean for a good 4 to 6 months

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What a lot of people are missing is that you can rub it with anything that has abrasives or chemicals that take off the oxidized clear coat. Once you get through the oxidation no matter if you use chemical or wet sandpaper then you can use regular car wax to polish the lens and build up the clear coat. Oxidation on your lens covers follows the same principle as oxidation on your car's paint of chrome wheels. Oxidation is simply the clear coat being degraded to a dull finish because environmental factors will pit the smooth finish. Removing the oxidation layer then buffing or spraying the lens with a new clear coat chemical is all that is needed.

Lens Cleaning By Hand

Step 1: Remove Oxidation

For most new cars it's not going to be much of an issue. Use a mild abrasive such as the rough side of a kitchen scotch-brite pad will be sufficient to remove the oxidation. You don't need chemicals for new cars simply elbow grease and time. If your lens has mild oxidation then you might consider using the chrome polish or any mild chemical abrasive. If your lens has severe oxidation to the point that the entire lens looks white and you can't even see the inside of the lens then buy some 1000-1200 grit wet sandpaper and gently sand the oxidation layer off (it will appear milky white). You will be able to tell when you've gone through the clear coat because your fingers won't be covered in white milky residue. Do a little a time and ensure all areas of the lens aren't milky when sanded. Do this very lightly, let the sandpaper do all the work. You might only need to take off as much as the width of a human hair or you might have to go a little more than that for newer lenses. It all depends on the oxidation thickness.

Step 2: Lens Cleaning

After you've removed the oxidation layer your lens will appear dull. If you had severe oxidation then it might actually look better but still dull. At this stage I would recommend using soapy water to clean, something soft like beach towel or shamoi to dry, and then a tack cloth for fine particles. If you aren't overly worried about dust particles then you can skip this step as most people seem to do. In my opinion the tack cloth does matter since wet sanding creates ultra fine dust particles. Why take the chance for that stuff to get stuck between the lens and clear coat. Up to you though.

Step 3: Clear Coat

To bring back the factory clarity you want to use a car wax (or after-market lens product) that is known to give cars the maximum amount of shine. Shine means thick clear coat. Wax on, let it sit about 10 minutes depending on the sun conditions, wax on. Repeat this as many times as you like in order to build your clear coat layer by layer. This seems to be a step that everyone here is missing out on. Without building a clear coat your headlights will get dull or yellow again in very short order as some of you have already experienced. Yes, your lens has a clear coat the same as your paint or rims. Without a clear coat your lens clarity will nosedive quickly. Get that clear coat built up and you'll find it will be years until you have to go through this again instead of months. In my opinion this is something that should be a part of routine maintenance for older cars. Every year inspect the headlights and if you need to restore them do so.

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Lens Cleaning With Electric Tools

Step 1: Cutting Compound and Wool Pad

An industrial buffer isn't needed. You can find buffing attachments for an electric drill at just about any auto or home improvement store. As you'll see in the accompanied videos a wool pad should be used along side the cutting compound. A corded or cordless drill has sufficient RPM's to do the work for this project but ensure that you take it slow and work at a pace that's comfortable for you. Maguires and other manufacturers have a large selection of cutting compounds which are used for paint sanding but are also perfectly suitable for lens cleaning too. You're likely not to find a shortage of selection in the highly competitive wax and polishing industry. The abrasive compound and RPM's of the drill will do all the work. You won't need to put any weight on it at all. Go slow and be very mindful of heat build up.

Step 2: Polishing Compound and Soft Foam Pad

You can go with a ball or pad attachment but make sure it's a dense foam because this is where you use polishing agents which are a much finer powder mixture (aka wax). If you go too fast you can actually put a burn mark in the lens from the friction/heat output of the pad. A burn mark will traverse to the inside of the lens and will be scarred for life. You don't want that so go slow and keep an eye on heat build up. If you do start to get too much heat for whatever reason stop take a break and let the pad cool down.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjQZrXDYjwU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJk-w-hCLSE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nqn2Do0LnjM

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Lens Cleaning With DIY Kit

There are plenty of after-market solutions for lens cleaning. One that I've stumbled upon is called Diamondite. There are plenty of DIY kits like this so choose which ever brand you want. They are all similar systems which include the compounds, drill attachments, and use almost identical chemicals. These are the easiest, complete, and proven system for DIY'ers to use. No matter what system you decide to go with never forget to build up your own clear coat if one isn't included.

Meguire Kit

Diamondite Kit

Mothers Kit

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As you can see it's not really about the chemicals you use because there's millions of them. It's all about oxidation removal. If brake cleaner works then so be it. If it gets the job done to your satisfaction so be it. It doesn't matter what you use as long as they are clear and you don't forget to build back that clear coat!

These guys test everything from urine to avocado for headlight restoration.

Don't be afraid to tackle headlight restoration yourself. It is in fact as easy as it looks. It only requires minimal effort and some good ol' elbow grease. With the availability of information today thanks to the internet... help and tutorials are only a couple keystrokes away. Good luck.

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I picked up some Meguire's PlastiX. As a small test I decided to clean my yellowed dome light cover. It looks to be made of the same material. The results were good but it didn't really take care of the yellowing of the plastic. I wet sanded the whole thing for about 10 minutes then applied the PlastiX. I have a feeling I missed a step somewhere.

img-312723-1-P2230193.jpg

You can see the reflection of the bushes beside my car. It's squeaky clean and really shiny but the yellowing is still there. I'm pretty sure the yellowing is from the inside of the housing which is made of microscopic pyramids. I couldn't sand those down. I'm a smoker so I had to let it go. The exterior of the dome cover is very smooth and shiny.

If I could sand the interior I'm sure it would look amazing. Got a burn from an after-market bulb and a couple heat cracks. I've been on the lookout for a replacement. Good test subject can highly recommend or if you're restoring your headlights anyway then hit up the dome cover while you've got everything out.

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HERES A CHEAPER WAY:

Use tooth-paste, IT WILL WORK.. but the bad thing over time and time of use. The tooth paste will make UV layer weaker, which will make it turn yellow faster.

But Try It Out abotu 2-3 times, It Works!

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You can get some "sealer" designed for after polishing your lens at any auto parts store.

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I've used this on my headlights and fog light, works really well (lotsa elbow grease)

post-25546-0-34816300-1353099706_thumb.j

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Here is my attempt, I just used Mothers headlight cleaner I got from Walmart for cheap and best of all I just attached it to my drill so I didn't have to work that hard while the drill did the work. Here are some pictures.

P3150588.jpg

P3150586.jpg

P3150587.jpg

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Is this where I stick my cheeky head in and mention that I have glass, not polycarbonate lights on my GC that have gone 29 years without any more than wiping the bugs off? :P

That said - great restorations guys! Some excellent ideas there! (my wife drives an Elantra so placing in the memory bank for future use)

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long story short, on you tube chris fix made a video about permently restoring your headlights. the reason they go yellow: is the clear coat most car companies use because it fades in the sun. you basically have to sand them back and use a non yellowing clearcoat.

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