Headlight oxidation...

Discussion in 'MINI Focused Chat & Musings' started by caseydog, Sep 10, 2017.

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  1. caseydog

    caseydog Well-Known Member

    Nov 7, 2012
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    My MINI headlights are getting a bit dull. I haven't restored any headlights in a long time, so I'm wondering what products available now are the best for this job?

    I have a professional grade buffer, if needed.

    CD
     
  2. fishmonger

    fishmonger Active Member

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    I used 3M kit from Amazon on my tundra. Under $20. The stuff it came with was a bit short on the 3000 grit (single disk), so I had to finish off the second light with some buffing compound but it came out great. If you want to make sure you have enough stuff, get two kits. I used a rotary buffer, which probably is a lot better than a drill, which is what the instructions call for. Light output on that truck went off the charts, much more than I expected. very targeted beam pattern again, and that with headlights that weren't bad at all. I just did it because I am selling the truck. Major difference in appearance.

    If you have a small buffing disk, 600, 1200 and 3000 grit polishing disks and some buffing compound, you're golden without buying any of these kits.

    Basically, once you do this, you lose the harder outside layer of the plastic, which is the one that gets hazy. So no more haze after that, as only the harder layer is UV sensitive. In return you will get more stone chips. If I ever have to do that on one of my Minis, I'll put those clearbra cut to size patches on the lens and protect them that way.
     
  3. Dave.0

    Dave.0 Helix & RMW Powered
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    I use 2000 grit and wetsand them down. I move up to 3000 and 4000 and then buff them out with a DA and HD polish. I have done this for several friends and have even had lights FedEx'ed to me. Everyone is always surprised how well they turn out and aware they are new.

    After that I coat the with Gyeon Prime and they look brand new.

    The key is getting all the top coat off the lens and getting rid of all the chips and dings when wet sanding. Next when you start to polish do not use a whole pad only use a orange or yellow pad and do not push down hard or the heat will build up and mess up the lens.
     
  4. MCS02

    MCS02 Moderator
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    I start with 1500 grit then 2000 and finally 3000, wet sanding. After that I use a buffing compound that is for getting fine scratches out on paint. I do it all by hand.
     
  5. Dave.0

    Dave.0 Helix & RMW Powered
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    All by hand ? They have power tools now old man. :lol::lol::lol:
     
  6. MCS02

    MCS02 Moderator
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    I should say my lights were very bad. You can start with 2000 like Dave said if your lights are not bad
     
  7. MCS02

    MCS02 Moderator
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    GET OFF MY LAWN!:lol::lol:
     
  8. caseydog

    caseydog Well-Known Member

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    I have some Meguiar's Medium Cut and Fine Cut polishes, but never thought about going even further with wet sanding.

    The coating after the polishing is where I'm at a loss. In the past, I've found that if I polish the headlights, and don't use a coating, they quickly oxidize again.

    Does the Gyeon Prime keep them looking clear for a significant period of time?

    CD
     
  9. Metalman

    Metalman Well-Known Member
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    The original OEM plastic headlights (can't vouch for the foreign knock-offs) have a UV top coat protection layer. It's supposed to slow down the UV weathering effects of sunlight. But it's not perfect and at some point you need to take action... All of the sanding and revitalization kits obviously will cut through and remove this UV layer, but at this point that layer is shot anyway. Be careful how much heat and pressure you put into the headlight lens with the buffer.:thumbsup:

    I used the 3M kit on my 1999 wife's MB headlights and it worked well...
     
  10. DneprDave

    DneprDave Well-Known Member
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    3M Clear Bra material is UV resistant, you could apply a layer of that on your headlights after polishing the haze and chips out of them.
     
  11. Dave.0

    Dave.0 Helix & RMW Powered
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    Mine still look new after 2 years. :thumbsup: Gyeon Prime is a chemical / UV coating that you can use on you while car.

    See link below.

    http://www.esotericcarcare.com/gyeon-q2-prime/
     
  12. Dave.0

    Dave.0 Helix & RMW Powered
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    Yup, the main goal of sanding is to remove the entire OEM protection layer that is on the light that has failed. Adding a UV coating like a Gyeon Prime will put is back after your are done sanding and polishing and removing polishing oils.

    I don't like 3M clear bra or Laminx on the lights because it is a pain in the a$$ to get perfectly installed. :mad2::mad2:
     
  13. caseydog

    caseydog Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for all the answers. I think I have a game plan, now. It is a bit pricy, but having clear headlights is not just a cosmetic issue, it is a safety issue. Plus, those Xenon headlights weren't exactly cheap, so why make them work through hazy plastic?

    CD
     
  14. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    I'm going to have to do this very soon, as well. My lenses aren't awful, but they are a tad bit cloudy and have a yellowish tinge to 'em, which make the car look aged/tired. I'll probably go through wet sanding from 800/1000 grit (to remove the clear coat) on up to 3000 and then polish out the plastic with a drill-attached pad and plastic polish. I'm torn about re-sealing with a clear-coat. I'd hate to work for a clear, smooth surface and see it fade away again in a year or so, but I use Zaino as my paint sealant and it has UV blockers. I'd also hate to work that hard and then apply clear coat, only to have it fish-eye / orange peel on me. Given that my MINI is garage kept and is a fun car (not daily driven and parked outside when I'm working), I'll probably just let Zaino and my garage do the protection if I can polish the lens out to where I'm happy with the result.
     
  15. ScottinBend

    ScottinBend Space Cowboy
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    I second the LaminX vinyl. I am on my second set after almost 14 yrs of high desert heat and exposure. The lenses looked factory new when I took off the old vinyl. And it wasn't hard to put on the new set as they are precut and the adhesive is very forgiving. Any small imperfections are gone after a few days in the sun.
     
  16. agranger

    agranger MINI of the Month June 2009
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    I've heard this same sentiment mentioned in many different places. It is easy to put too much heat into the plastic lens and get deformation / bubbling.

    I bought a Meguiar's kit with a 'power ball' type of thing (foam polishing ball for use with a drill), sandpaper and plastic polish, which has worked well on several other plastic bits (made a huge change to my mother-in-law's 3rd brake light which was completely matte and felt like 1000 grit sandpaper... got it back to clear and shiny with 5-10 min of work).
     
  17. Dave.0

    Dave.0 Helix & RMW Powered
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    If you are using a powerball you won't have a heat problem. You will have fun just trying to polish something round with something else round. :lol::lol:

    I use flat orange foam pads on a DA and as I polish. It allows more control when polishing. I use my other hand to feel the lense to know how hot the plastic is getting while sanding out 3000 grit scratches.
     
  18. caseydog

    caseydog Well-Known Member

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    I have a Porter-Cable 7424 Polisher. I don't have to press hard, and I can set the speed on the low side to prevent heat.

    I got that polisher for FREE! Porter Cable gave it to me to review for the car magazine I worked for. Man, I miss that job. I got so much free stuff.

    CD
     
  19. Dave.0

    Dave.0 Helix & RMW Powered
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    Cool :thumbsup: that's what I use with na Orange pad and crank the speed up to 6 for the first few passes.

    After you see the shine looking good slow down to about 34 and finish buffing them out. I switch lights from time to time to keep the heat low but the lights can take a lot abuse from a foam pad.

    It is people with a rotary Mikita and a wool pad that will destroy a light is 30 seconds or less if they don't know what they are doing.
     
  20. MCS02

    MCS02 Moderator
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    I do it by hand! I never burn the finish! Dave thinks I am old. What is a polisher anyway?:D
     

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