How To: Polish Headlight Lenses - remove rock chips/hazing/foggy issues - SaabCentral Forums
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  #1  
Old 2nd July 2009
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KjT817 KjT817 is offline
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Default How To: Polish Headlight Lenses - remove rock chips/hazing/foggy issues

So I was sick of the deteriorated output from my '04 Aero's headlights - a few NH winters caused some pitting/hazing of the lenses.





So here's what I did to fix it.

1) Hit up VIP Auto (also available on Amazon) 3M Part #39008. Looks like this:


2) Polish (sand) one light a time, starting with the lower grit first. Be sure that you get a consistent finish on every step - there were places that were a pain on mine, but if you don't do it right you have to start over. This step was dusty, a face mask wouldn't be a bad idea. Here's what it'll look like after the first pad:




(I was freaking out about now... "What did I just do to my light?!)

3) Polish the light with the next sanding pad and you're results won't look much different, just finer scratches.

4) Now use the gray pad - moisten the pad and the light first. You'll get some white residue that starts to form after a couple passes with it, be sure to make a good 5-6 passes after you see this. Here's what you'll come up with:



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  #2  
Old 2nd July 2009
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5) Now the foam pad and polish, I made 2 applications with this, polishing until the product was nearly gone each time. Because I was concerned with the UV Protection, also made 2 applications of Meguiar's PlastX which is supposed to have some UV protection in it. Here's what it looks like now:





6) Enjoy! Here's some after pictures.

High Beams:


Low Beams:


Total Time: 2 Hours (it was raining off and on, you could probably do this in an hour if you didn't have to time the downpours and constantly dry the lights)
Materials Needed:
- 3M Kit
- 1200+RPM Drill
- Painter's Tape
- PlastX
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Old 3rd July 2009
RedRomeo RedRomeo is offline
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Does it make any different?
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Old 3rd July 2009
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looks great!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedRomeo View Post
Does it make any different?
My light output almost doubled

Heres my post:
http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=156873

Heres some more info if you don't purchase the kit
http://forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=2485084
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Old 5th July 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedRomeo View Post
Does it make any different?
Significant improvement on my end, well worth the $20 & 2 Hours
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Old 6th July 2009
Muttgrunt Muttgrunt is offline
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very nicely done! $20 bucks is very cheap - a lot of detailers charge up to $60 per light refinishing. Looks great and make the car look a lot younger very quickly
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Old 7th July 2009
Sharontha Sharontha is offline
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Does Rob's lights look a little more clear? I think both you guys did an amazing job... one questions, Since it's a type of polish that goes on the light; Does this mean that in a few months it will go back to the old state or to the state it was after getting sanded? I'm just wondering If anyone has a review after maybe 3 months of doing this process?

Regardless, I think it looks like day and night.
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Old 7th July 2009
Muttgrunt Muttgrunt is offline
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no, you won't have to worry about it going back to looking sanded.

actual polishes have abrasive agents in them, and act as a type of liquid sand paper if you will. The "polishing" action is like sanding away very finely at the surface, not merely covering damage up with filler agents.

polishing is also the action i recently took to the paint of a 2007 black 9-3 i have posted here: http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=160255

as you see, the polish physically removed the lighter damage. If I put the time in, I could have started with a more aggressive combo, then finished it out the same to remove even more damage / swirls / scratches. This is basically what was done to these headlights, and as you see: the results speak for themself. Great job again by the OP
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Old 7th July 2009
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After polishing, you will need to re-apply a plastic sealant or put a clearcoat back on. If you don't, it will begin to haze since you polished off the clearcoat.
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Old 7th July 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharontha View Post
Does this mean that in a few months it will go back to the old state or to the state it was after getting sanded? I'm just wondering If anyone has a review after maybe 3 months of doing this process?
maybe in a few years it will, but not a few months. I just will stay on top of it with a couple coats of Nu-Finish every now and then to help it look fresh.

You can't do anything about the chips.
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Old 7th July 2009
Muttgrunt Muttgrunt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yspaik View Post
After polishing, you will need to re-apply a plastic sealant or put a clearcoat back on. If you don't, it will begin to haze since you polished off the clearcoat.
Not quite....
The headlights are not clear-coated, but likely have mixed in UV protection in the plastic housing to avoid discoloration over the years.
With paint, The clear-coat is usually anywhere from 30-80 microns thick, and polishing will only take 1-2 microns off, with wet-sanding+compounding+polishing taking off 2-5 microns. It would be recommended that you keep the finish waxed/sealed as it will help protect from things like water marks, etching, etc.
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