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  • How To - Restore Headlight Lenses

    We wanted to provide a step by step process in how we go about a full lens restoration on any headlight. This will help many understand the proper process to a full restoration. The only way to make a headlight lens look brand new again is to go through a complete wet sanding and polishing procedure. Once the original coating is worn off, it is important to protect the lens again to in order to prolong the life of the lens. Up until now we have always use the Collinite #845 wax which was long lasting, but still eventually would wear away like any other wax. Now Phil at detailersdomain.com introduced us to this new Nano Coating called Optimum Opti Coat 2, which is more of a permanent coating. We have tested this product a number of times already and its excellent. I can’t wait to follow up with a review in a year’s time to see how it holds up. It’ comes in a small bottle that can be used on pretty much any surface. If you have any questions, just contact Phil at Detailersdomain.com and he will be able to answer anything you throw his way. Anyways, on to the good stuff….
    *Please note, if you decide to do this procedure, do it at your own risk. Lightwerkz cannot be liable for any damages that may occur.
    Materials Used:
    Uber Microfiber Towels
    Gloves
    Metabo Rotary buffer
    4″ Uber Foam Pads
    -Yellow Compound Pad
    -Orange Medium Polish Pad
    -Green Polish Pad
    -Blue Final Polish Pad

    Optimum Opti Coat 2 Nano Coating
    Ultimate Menzerna Polish Kit
    -1 quart of Power Gloss
    -1 quart of Super Intensive Polish
    -1 quart of PO106FA
    -1 quart of PO85RD

    Sandpaper
    -600 grit
    -1000 grit
    -1500 grit

    Sanding Pad or Mechanical Sander





    You want to start off with the 600 grit sandpaper. Its strong enough to eventually get through the original coating to expose a fresh layer of the lens. Anything under 600 will also work, it will simply be tougher to remove all the scratches the paper itself leave behind. You can do all the sanding steps by hand, but its easier with an electric sander if you have access to one.


    Get it really wet, this will lubricate the paper and expedite the process. We use a garbage bag underneath. Just a note, this will get messy!


    Finish up my hand for smoother results

    So this is what you are left with after some work. You can see the original layer is completely gone and you have exposed a new fresh layer of the lens that will be suitable for the restoration.


    Repeat the same results with the 1000 and 1500 grit paper. You will notice a little bit of an improvement.

    Now onto the compounding and polishing. You want to use a high quality compound, we used the Menzerna Power Gloss. This is going to restore the luster in the lens. Apply a small bit to your pad and go over the lens with your hand to rub it in. Next place the pad on the backing plate of the rotary or orbital buffer and work on the lens until you see the desired result. Your main scratches should come out and there should be alot more clarity in the lens.




    Final result after the compounding

    Repeat with your yellow polishing pad

    Results after polishing pad

    Repeat with the green and the blue pads. You will want to use a true polish on these. We also used the Menzerna line which we feel gives the best results.








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  • #2

    Now we have a crystal clear lens. Your light should look brand new with the right amount of work. Sometimes you need to go back to the more abrasive compound or polish if you still see scratches in order to remove them. If you are happy you may proceed to the next step which would be your chosen protection layer. Once again we have used wax, but now with this new Opti Coat Nano Coating, we feel its the best solution.
    The Opti Coat will come with a syringe filled with the coating and an applicator pad. Be sure to follow the directions that come with the product.
    1. Remove defects to your satisfaction
    2. Clean surface to remove all polishing oils, waxes, and silicone.
    3. Prime the applicator by makingan X across the pad. Only a few drops will be needed for eachsubsequent panel.
    4. Wipe Opti-Coat on a single panel at a time in a thin layer using several directions for even coverage.
    5. Inspect the panel with adequate lighting withing 5-10 minutes looking for any thick areas that have not flashed away to clear.
    6. Use applicator or paint safe microfiber to even out (no pressure)any spots where you see streaks.This step is key, as any spots not leveled will have to be abrasively repaired is allowed to cure. Panels will feel a bit tacky and will beself -leveling during cure time, so avoid any unnecessary touching,wiping, or contact to produce the best results.
    7. Repeat steps 1-6 for each panelwhere application is desired.

    NOTE: Take care to getcomplete coverage in your initial application as Opti Coat Can Not be layered.



    It will not look like anything has happened. In the light you may be able to see the streaks. Wait 5 minutes as directed and use a microfiber towel to wipe away anything left over.



    And the final results….







    And that’s all there is to it. Just remember to get the best results its important to use high quality Compound and Polish, along with an Orbital or Rotary buffer. If you are unfamiliar with the use of these products, its best to take it to a professional.
    Check out our current promotions to save up to 15% on your next parts order with us

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    HID Retrofits l Halos l Lens Restorations l Repairs l Installations



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    Comment


    • #3
      What other orbital polisher would you recommend? does the variables speed helps if so why?

      Thank you spending the time to write up the how to an sharing it with us.
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      • #4
        Im not sure regarding Orbital, never owned one. The rotary is great but you need to know how to use it. Very easy to damage the lens is you do not use it in the right manner. For example you can burn the plastic if you apply too much pressure at too high of a speed. The key is letting the pad do the work. Variable speeds helps simply because you can apply it on a slower speed and then increase the speeds once you are comfortable with a certain speed/pad/polish. Definitely takes some experience to get the proper results.
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        • #5
          Good write up.

          We do a lot of headlight restorations and follow almost the same process although using 800/1500/2000 wet sanding. It's more work but the wet sanding is better and safer done by hand - electricity and water can make a lethal combination.

          We also use random orbital machines for the polishing process. The one we use is a twin head, sold by Autosmart. This is very similar to the Cyclo machine and is excellent for the final steps. There are many other random orbitals on the market but one of the most popular is the Porter Cable unit. The most important thing to look at when assessing a random orbital machine is the size of the orbit. Cheaper machines have a smaller orbit of 2-4mm, the better ones much larger at around 6mm. This is important to get the cutting action that is required. Top shelf brands like Festool have a random orbital action as well as a selectable rotary action, i.e. two tools in one. Expensive though.

          Just a tip: Most cutting compounds need a light spray of water, either on the pad for rotaries or on the surface for RO's. This gives the compound some lubricity and helps it to work better. Much less compound is used as well. For example, the photo where you show the yellow pad with 8 drops of compound, we'd use only 2.

          Maybe not the best photos, but you get the idea:
          image738.jpg

          image313.jpg

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          • #6
            When switching grits, do you use different angles? Ie go horizontal with the 600 then vertical with the 1500 and back to horizontal for 2000?
            There are two kinds of light - the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures. -James Thurber


            1998 Ford F-150 | FX-R 2.1 / Philips 85122XV C1 / Matsushita Gen5 | Philips LumiLEDs | Plasmaglow Fire & Ice

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            • #7
              Not really. I do make sure to go all different directions when sanding with each stage though. Do you think its better to use different angles?
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              • #8
                There are different schools of thought on this. My experience, mainly with preparation for painting, is that going the same way is better. If the deeper scratches are not taken out completely then at least they're rounded off. By going in opposite directions you end up with scratches over the top of scratches unless you sand down to the bottom of the scratches each time and this isn't ideal, taking too much off.

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                • #9
                  Would clear coat in a spray can meant for car paint work in sealing in the headlights after they have been polished?

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                  • #10
                    Sure, people do that. It's not something I have any experience with though. My worry is that the clear coat will begin to chip over time.
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                    • #11
                      The biggest issues I'd have with clear coat over headlight lenses are:

                      - Getting it perfectly smooth and level so as not to affect the light coming through the lens. Now I know that you can sand it back but, as a professional spray painter, getting this standard of finish off the gun is extremely difficult, sometimes impossible.

                      - Spray cans / rattle cans. These use a type of paint known as acrylic or 1K. There are very few painters these days who can achieve a good finish with acrylic even with a gun (it's a much older technology product than what is usually used in paint shops now) and anyone who can get a flat, smooth wet finish out of a spray can can have a job in my shop anytime they want. Bottom line: It's very difficult.

                      - Adhesion. After spending much time restoring your lenses to clear you'd have to scratch them up again to get the paint to adhere and probably need an adhesion promoter as well. I'd be inclined to think that this would only degrade the performance.

                      - Chipping. Yes it will chip and the thicker it is the worse/bigger the chips will be. A wipe on, very thin coating is much more the ideal.

                      A sealer like the one LightWerkz outlined above is, IMHO. a much better proposition. The only other viable alternative that I see would be the polyurethane coating which is covered in a different thread. Whether the polyurethane lasts the distance without yellowing or delaminating is yet to be seen but the method of application is not dissimilar to the Opti-Kote so may give similar results.
                      Last edited by NFT5; January 17th, 2012, 03:43 AM.

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                      • #12
                        i find maguires plast-X restoration kit works very well ive never tried this particular kit yet but from the looks of thing i will be giving it a shot
                        my vehicles

                        2013 subaru impreza WRX STi new body style (some mods)
                        04 subaru impreza WRX STi (project car)
                        2013 ford F550 platnum dually (extreem mods CAT engine swap)

                        my wifes car

                        2012 subaru impreza limited sport (some mods)
                        07 hyundai accent GLS (extreem mods)

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                        • #13
                          Ok, how about 3M film over the light after restoration? I currently have 3M on my Halogen's and really like it for protection but don't know what it's going to do to my Projector (mod) performance in the future......

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Da-Sarge View Post
                            i find maguires plast-X restoration kit works very well ive never tried this particular kit yet but from the looks of thing i will be giving it a shot
                            Meguiars recently released a sealant/protectant to be used following PlastX or any sort of restoring compound.


                            Originally posted by branded View Post
                            Ok, how about 3M film over the light after restoration? I currently have 3M on my Halogen's and really like it for protection but don't know what it's going to do to my Projector (mod) performance in the future......
                            It doesn't affect it much at all if you install it properly.

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                            • #15
                              If someone was to polish the lense, but not sand, would the final sealant still be necessary? of course, i'm referring to a lense that isn't as damaged as the one in your How-To and can be brightened up a bit by using just polish,

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