I searched for a how-to or tips on installing vinyl overlays and couldn't find a good thread so I thought I'd post my experience and results.
First, I ordered Blue Bat's redout overlays. They are good quality and I was pleased with the product when I received them in the mail. I was a bit concerned when I opened the package because one of the vinyls had some wrinkles in it but this had no bearing on the outcome.
OK, on the the process.
WARNING! This install, although very easy, requires a TON of patience. I took about 5 hours to install mine, really trying to get perfect results.
Here are the materials I used:
I went to a local auto parts store and purchased a window tint install kit. I thought this would help but I really could have done without.
I did this inside my house with the taillights off the car so I could have a lot of light and not be sitting on the ground. This had advantages and disadvantages but overall I think this is the way to go.
Take your taillights and clean them thoroughly
. I used Clorox Clean with bleach and then Windex. Probably overkill but prep is everything.
Next, liberally spray the clean taillight with either the window tint solution or make your own with a couple drops of dish soap in water or a bit of alcohol in water. Not sure of the exact amounts.
Next, peel off the backing and place the overlay in the general position required to cover the taillight.
This might be a bit scary if you are anal but you are still a long way from the finished product.
Since I had the reverse light cutouts I chose to start with that section. I lined the cutout up and started to smooth out the overlay from there. At first I used the smoothing tool that came in the kit but eventually just used my fingers and had better results.
Try to get the overlay to lay as flat as possible over the largest flat sections of the taillight. With the multiple curves and contours of the light housing this will take work and patience. Take your time.
Next, slowly apply heat to the sections that are laying flat. It will take trial and error to know how much heat to apply and for how long. At first be conservative with the amount and how close you get. The vinyl will begin to crinkle and shrink as heat is applied.
Be careful when applying heat to areas with long bubbles as they will tend to form sharp creases which will take more more time and effort to work out.
Next, work towards the edges of the light alternating heat and pressure. You are basically stretching the vinyl as you heat it up working out the bubbles and excess.
I found it best to pin down a few sections first then go back and work out the bubbles after. You will have better results if you stretch the vinyl in both directions, horizontally and vertically.
The edges are tougher but are important as you will see most of them after the taillight is reinstalled. Heat will come into play here as you work over the sides, pressing the vinyl firmly over the edge.
Working in the same direction I worked everything over to one corner in order to get all the bubbles and creases out of one place.
Over time you will get the hang of what you need to do to work all the bubbles out. You will need to apply heat and pull up sections that are already laid down in order to get everything looking nice and smooth.
The results should start to look good but again the sides are going to be the biggest point of frustration and will need lots of modifying.
Here are some pics of the sides that will be seen after install.
Still needs a bit of work here.
Here is a side by side comparison of the ugly old and the pretty new.
Yea yea, I know it's dirty.
NOTE- The vinyl will stretch quite a bit and you will need to get quite a bit of stretch out of it in order to make it look pretty. You will see what I'm talking about.
Overall a pretty easy install. Very happy with the results and for the price compared to a set of 04-05 tails you can't bet it.
Feel free to comment or ask questions. I will try to help out if I can but in this case experience is really the only way to learn.