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Old 03-12-2002, 06:33 PM   #1
Patrick Olsen
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Default Tired of those dirty/scuffed up foglight or headlight lenses?

WARNING! Some owners of newer cars with clear lenses (vice the older prismatic type like mine) have reported problems using this technique. Use this technique at your own risk. If you have newer headlights, you would probably be wise to use one of the plastic polish products mentioned in this thread (Plastix, 3M Finesse It, Mequiar's Plastic Polish, etc) before attempting the more abrasive sanding technique.

I also own a Mustang, and the Fox-body Mustangs are pretty famous for the headlight lenses getting kinda milky and/or yellowish with age as the plastic oxidizes. I had read about using this technique to freshen the lenses up so you didn't have to spend $$$ to buy entirely new headlights.

Well, the foglights on the Legacy were looking quite crappy due to all the grit they catch, so I figured I'd try this technique on them to see if it works. Sure enough, it does, it's cheap, it's pretty quick, and I'm damn happy with how this turned out.

Here's what you'll need:
- some 800 grit sandpaper
- some 2000 grit wet/dry sandpaper
- some sort of plastic or metal polish - I used Mother's Clear Coat Wheel Polish, because it was what I had handy in the garage.

Here's the procedure:
(1) Go over the surface of the lens thoroughly with the 800 grit sandpaper. I just used a rubber sanding block, so I did this all by hand, and probably spent about 10min on this step. I'd sand in one direction, then turn 90deg and sand that way for a couple minutes, then go over everything again at a different angle, etc. If you have a palm-grip electric sander you could do this stage quite a bit faster. If your lenses are really heavily pitted, you could probably start with a slightly more aggressive sandpaper, say 400 or 600, then work on to the 800, then continue with the rest of the procedure.

(2) Wet sand the lens using the 2000 grit wet/dry sandpaper. For those who don't know what wet sanding is, basically it's just sanding with the sandpaper and the surface being sanded fully wet. That way the particulates you create get washed away, so the paper doesn't get clogged up as fast, and you're not grinding the dust into the smooth surface you're creating.

Wet sanding must be done by hand! Don't use the palm grip electric sander to do this!

To start, just tear off about a 5x5" square of 2000 grit sandpaper and soak it in water. Also splash some water on the lens. Start sanding away, just use your hand (no sanding block), and go in a nice, circular motion. Keep the sandpaper fully wet - I just keep the tap water on at a low rate and dunked the paper under every 15 or 20 seconds probably. I wet sanded the lens for probably 5min or so.

(3) Use the plastic or metal polish to polish the surface a couple times. Very simple, just follow the directions on the bottle of whatever you're using. I think Meguiar's actually makes a product that is intended for polishing plastic lenses, bumpers, etc. I used the wheel polish, I'm sure a car polish would work fine, too. I did a couple applications.

The end result - before on the left, after on the right:


I probably spent a grand total of 1 hour doing both foglights, and they look 100x better. When you look at them close up in person, you can see there's still some pitting there. Like I said, if you wanted you could probably use more aggressive sandpaper for step 1, and/or use an electric sander so you can work things a bit more. I didn't bother, as this was basically just an experiment for me to see how it would work out, and I'm happy with the results. From more than a couple feet away you'd never notice the remaining pitting.

Pat Olsen
'97 Legacy 2.5GT sedan
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Last edited by Patrick Olsen; 09-10-2005 at 12:01 AM.
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Old 03-12-2002, 06:52 PM   #2
Hazdaz
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amazing results. I think this should be posted in a permanent place - since I know its probably going to be hard finding this info a few years from now when I'll probably need it.
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Old 03-12-2002, 08:02 PM   #3
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That is pretty cool Pat, thanks.

As long as we are posting valuable info, I have a really cool cosmetic maintence mod myself. This is a great tutorial to fix those ever so common scratches and dings that happen to our wonderful Subaru paint. Comes out flawlessly.



cool paint fix

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Old 03-04-2005, 01:59 AM   #4
Patrick Olsen
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Refreshing an old topic...

I recently did a similar procedure on my headlights, which were really cloudy and crappy looking. In addition to the procedure I outlined above, I made use of a "Plastic and Headlight Re-surfacer/Protector" kit from Bright Solutions. I don't remember who I bought it from, as I got it months ago and just never got around to using it - I know it was a Mustang parts place. You can find the kit here: http://www.symtechcorp.net/NEWbrightsolutions.cfm . The big thing the kit has to kind of finish off the sandpaper-and-polish technique I used is the Shine Restorer/Protector that comes with the kit. I'm not sure what the stuff is, but it seems to kinda fill in the rough surface of the headlight plastic making it look like new. Even after using the 2000 grit sandpaper and the wheel polish, the surface of the headlight isn't perfect, but this stuff really makes it look good.

Here's a pic I took after doing just a quick "test run" on the driver side headlight. You can already see the huge difference. What you can't really see in the pic is that the treated headlight still had some deeper cloudiness/oxidation that the Bright Solutions treatment just wasn't abrasive enough to fix.


So I used a little palm sander and some 240 grit paper to take off the top layer of the headlight, then did the sanding and polishing method I described in my original post, then finished it off with the Shine Restorer/Protector. Unfortunately, I don't have a good pic of the final final product, but it's pretty amazing in appearance, and the improvement in light projection at night was very noticeable (which surprised me).

Pat
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Old 03-04-2005, 02:04 AM   #5
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Default Pat,

nice. Are you back on island? We could try those Whiteline rear subframe locking bolts if you want. PM me or do a search on I-Club. My numbers are there in many posts.

San
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Old 03-04-2005, 02:24 PM   #6
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Does this procedure work on the bug eye imprezas? The headlights are plastic instead of glass, like what those obove pics look like. I figured snadpaper would just make it worse for plastic lenses.
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Old 03-04-2005, 03:36 PM   #7
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Excellent tip- thanks!
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Old 03-04-2005, 07:54 PM   #8
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Thanks Patrick! Can't wait to try this..
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Old 03-04-2005, 08:00 PM   #9
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Sweet. . .my best friends wife has a legacy wagon and the plastic head lights are so yellow. Ill send this to him. Thanx.
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Old 03-04-2005, 09:22 PM   #10
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Man this looks like a great idea. but Im afraid to do it on my $900 jdm headlights. Im might start with 1000 grit and fo from there, If that doesnt work but I see it go a little better then I might go to the 800 grit. Mikal
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Old 03-04-2005, 10:30 PM   #11
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wow, good post! i vote for sticky. im definately gonna do this on my girls peon, those headlights are mad yellow.
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Old 03-05-2005, 06:24 AM   #12
Patrick Olsen
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My car has plastic headlights, so this technique should work on any car with plastic ones. The super fine sandpaper and the polish will clean the surface up really nicely, so there's nothing to be worried about. The Shine Restorer/Protector is just a nice final touch to really make the headlights look like new. I honestly was a little worried about using the 240 grit sandpaper with the electric palm sander, but it turned out perfectly once I continued with the finer grit stuff to clean it all up.

Pat
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Old 03-05-2005, 07:25 AM   #13
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eh... I have heard that Mothers metal polish works good and also This stuff and similiar products

I wouldn't use sand paper on my headlights, thats just me.

Iggy
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Old 03-05-2005, 07:31 AM   #14
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use plexis plastic polish...you can get it at prolly any motorbike shop.

makes your eyes look like this:

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Old 03-05-2005, 02:41 PM   #15
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I just did this to my fog lights. I didn't have any 2000 grit paper laying around so I used 1000 and it still turned out amazing. My fog lights look like I just bought them. I'll have to try it on my headlights when I get some time and some 2000 git paper.
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Old 03-05-2005, 03:20 PM   #16
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Default Works amazing!

I did the exact thing to my 93 legacy. The lights were yellow they were so old. 30 minutes later they were like new.
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Old 03-05-2005, 03:45 PM   #17
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another trick, any type of automotive polish(i use nevr-dull)will get rid of the yellow.. the chemicals will wipe it right off... if it still isnt clean, then use sandpaper and plastic polish... when your done, clean them off really well and if you want to protect them clear coat them... thin layers applied evenly... the next time you have to clean them you will be sanding and buffing paint.... also if you do apply clearcoat, you will have to sand and buff... not plastic polish but really fine buffing compound...
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Old 03-13-2005, 06:54 PM   #18
Patrick Olsen
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quest
use plexis plastic polish...you can get it at prolly any motorbike shop.
Wow, that stuff looks like it works really well. I have a full set of new headlights on my Mustang, I'll have to see if I can find that Plexis stuff to keep them looking good.

Pat
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Old 03-14-2005, 11:51 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Olsen
Wow, that stuff looks like it works really well. I have a full set of new headlights on my Mustang, I'll have to see if I can find that Plexis stuff to keep them looking good.

Pat
yea, you can see the difference as soon as you put it on. it cleans the headlights up right away, and they shine like crazy.

I used it on my bro's headlights (04 rs) too...they were basically brand new and had just been washed and this stuff still made a huge difference.
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Old 03-15-2005, 07:30 PM   #20
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Quest, what about advanced auto parts or pepboys.
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Old 03-16-2005, 01:53 PM   #21
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Thumbs up

Gotta try this on the wife's '95 Legacy. Pat, as always, great to hear from you.
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Old 03-16-2005, 03:15 PM   #22
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Nice 5 lug conversion on the 5.0. What other things have you done?
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Old 03-16-2005, 06:25 PM   #23
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hey quest, what color is your rex? looks really clean!!
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Old 03-17-2005, 09:26 AM   #24
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It's not a WRX, it's an RS in the dark blue by the looks of things.
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Old 03-20-2005, 12:09 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N'CTRL
Nice 5 lug conversion on the 5.0. What other things have you done?
Get ready for a long list!

Hi Pat. Hope you are doing well. Thanks for the great post. My '01 Impreza lamps took a pretty good beating this winter, so maybe I'll give the polish a shot before they get really bad and I need to go to sand paper, etc...

I do have some older '98 Impreza RS lamps I can experiment on. I'll add pics here when I do.


Paul G.
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