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Old 04-09-2012, 08:56 PM   #1
Cobrakai
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Default 04 STi Headlight Restoration

Hey all -


I've been doing this for a while, started out with the Meguiar's kit and not being happy with the results. Then a crappy black and decker "buffer" and some Meguiar's ScratchX 2.0 and finally arriving at a PC 7424XP
with various products.

Anyways, a friend stopped by this weekend to have his headlights done and here's the results!

I started off by moderately wet sanding the headlights with 2000 sandpaper until the "crust" was not visible and the lens felt smooth again. If the lenses are in worse condition I start with 600 lightly sanding then moving up to 1500, and ending at 2000. I wouldn't suggest using a more coarse sandpaper unless you have the proper products to bring out the shine again, otherwise they'll look like crap!

Next, I used the Uber Yellow cutting pad with Meguiars M105 and after 4-5 passes with light pressure on Speed 5 the shine was starting to come back.

Same process after that with the Orange pad and Adam's swirl and haze remover, again 4-5 passes with light pressure on Speed 5

The last polish was the Menzerna Super Finish with the Green pad, same amount of product used, same pressure,speed, and amount of passes.

Finally, using the Black pad I applied my sealant/wax. For this step I used speed 2 with little to no pressure and minimal passes.

Let the sealant harden/cure and you're ready to wipe it off using your choice of microfiber/terry cloth.

The pictures don't really do it justice, I was using my crappy Digital Camera.


Before -







Sadly I didn't take any of the driver's side beforehand, I'm bad at remembering stuff like that ha.


After -












Products Used -

Meguiars M105 Ultra Cut Compound

Adam's Swirl and Haze Remover

Menzerna Super Finish

1Z einszett Glanz Wax

Pads used were Uber Yellow,Orange,Green,Black




Overall this was a cake walk using the above products, there is some pitting still but the owner just wanted something simple.





Any questions/comments welcomed.


Tony
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Last edited by Cobrakai; 04-10-2012 at 04:46 PM.
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Old 04-10-2012, 07:44 AM   #2
Just_Paris
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Can you detail the process you used. I have two sets of headlights I need to restore.
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Old 04-10-2012, 04:36 PM   #3
Cobrakai
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Just_Paris View Post
Can you detail the process you used. I have two sets of headlights I need to restore.


Sure not a problem, I'll update the original post.
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Old 04-11-2012, 11:32 AM   #4
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if you use the 3M kit that you can now buy at walmart you can get the same results, I did mine this weekend and followed it with the menzerna intensive polish followed by the micro polish and it turned out fantastic and I got a better finish then I have in the past with just polish and scratch remover, it was worth the $18 for the 3M kit!
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Old 04-11-2012, 11:51 AM   #5
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OP, looks nice dude!

but to keep it from reoccurring, forget the wax.

get optimum opti-coat 2.0. when you are done polishing, wash the lights with a warm water and dawn solution, rinse then dry completely and apply the opti-coat as per the directions.

opti-coat has a build thickness that is 10 billion times what wax or sealant is and also...it's a resin. so it's permanent. the prep is crucial though - the surface has to be perfectly clean of polishing oils and stuff. and it has to be restored to a satisfactory level before you seal because once it's sealed, they only way to remove opti-coat is to abrade it with compound or polish.

i always turn the lights on before i seal to make sure the lens is restored to the best level possible. the illumination highlights any remaining defects or, for people who sand...it'll highlight marks.

anyway, once you apply the coating, after the working time and when it starts to cure, just turn the lights for a little while to help it cure.

opti-coat will not only give it the UV protection it needs, but it will help prevent scratches from use/washing and will help guard against road wash damage. not rocks, but sand, etc.

one tube of 2.0 will treat a bazillion lamp sets but of course you can use it on everything.

Last edited by builthatch; 04-11-2012 at 12:26 PM.
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Old 04-11-2012, 12:19 PM   #6
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Your results look fantastic though and if I had the polishes, that's probably the route I'd have taken.

I used the 3M kit and was fairly happy with the results. I needed to do it again and tried the Meguires kit and was REALLY impressed with the results. This was on a Tundra, and the lenses came out looking brand new.
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Old 04-11-2012, 02:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by builthatch View Post
OP, looks nice dude!

but to keep it from reoccurring, forget the wax.

get optimum opti-coat 2.0. when you are done polishing, wash the lights with a warm water and dawn solution, rinse then dry completely and apply the opti-coat as per the directions.

opti-coat has a build thickness that is 10 billion times what wax or sealant is and also...it's a resin. so it's permanent. the prep is crucial though - the surface has to be perfectly clean of polishing oils and stuff. and it has to be restored to a satisfactory level before you seal because once it's sealed, they only way to remove opti-coat is to abrade it with compound or polish.

i always turn the lights on before i seal to make sure the lens is restored to the best level possible. the illumination highlights any remaining defects or, for people who sand...it'll highlight marks.

anyway, once you apply the coating, after the working time and when it starts to cure, just turn the lights for a little while to help it cure.

opti-coat will not only give it the UV protection it needs, but it will help prevent scratches from use/washing and will help guard against road wash damage. not rocks, but sand, etc.

one tube of 2.0 will treat a bazillion lamp sets but of course you can use it on everything.

I have heard of the opti-coat but haven't tried it yet, I'll have to pick some up.

Yeah I agree with you, turning on the headlights after polishing is a must to see how well you did!


Quote:
Originally Posted by boxtwo View Post
Your results look fantastic though and if I had the polishes, that's probably the route I'd have taken.

I used the 3M kit and was fairly happy with the results. I needed to do it again and tried the Meguires kit and was REALLY impressed with the results. This was on a Tundra, and the lenses came out looking brand new.
Couldn't agree more, I was fairly happy with the results of both kits then I stumbled upon a restoration thread using a buffer and some scratchx2.0 and I have to say the headlights came out much better!
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Old 04-11-2012, 04:11 PM   #8
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....something else that may be worth considering for post-repair protection is a task-specific film like those offered by XPel. Their headlamp films are ~30 mils thick and will not only protect against pitting but also some larger impacts. The product also has UV inhibitors so in theory, the lens should be protected in that respect as well (the film is directly adhered to the surface of the headlamp).

I currently have these on my Challenger and wish I would have put them on the wifes Forester. Once it comes time to refinishing hers (due to pitting), I will be covering them in XPel.
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Old 04-11-2012, 11:53 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kean View Post
....something else that may be worth considering for post-repair protection is a task-specific film like those offered by XPel. Their headlamp films are ~30 mils thick and will not only protect against pitting but also some larger impacts. The product also has UV inhibitors so in theory, the lens should be protected in that respect as well (the film is directly adhered to the surface of the headlamp).

I currently have these on my Challenger and wish I would have put them on the wifes Forester. Once it comes time to refinishing hers (due to pitting), I will be covering them in XPel.
smart!
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Old 04-12-2012, 03:22 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kean View Post
....something else that may be worth considering for post-repair protection is a task-specific film like those offered by XPel. Their headlamp films are ~30 mils thick and will not only protect against pitting but also some larger impacts. The product also has UV inhibitors so in theory, the lens should be protected in that respect as well (the film is directly adhered to the surface of the headlamp).

I currently have these on my Challenger and wish I would have put them on the wifes Forester. Once it comes time to refinishing hers (due to pitting), I will be covering them in XPel.
Have you had any issues with yellowing? We used, what I would think is a similar product, "Clear bra" on a ranger's front end and it turned a horrid yellow color within a few years.
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Old 04-12-2012, 04:01 AM   #11
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To OP - just wondering, but have you ever come across headlights that appear to have "spider web" cracks?

I assume long-term use of cheap HID bulbs with excessive UV output are the culprit for the plastic degradation.

You can bring the outside surface (and inside if needed) to near-perfect condition, but once the headlights are turned on, you can see how the spider webbing diffuses your beam pattern and causes glare.

I guess the only recourse is a new set of headlights, no?

Btw the results of your headlight restoration is amazing.
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Old 04-12-2012, 11:54 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sploder1992 View Post
Have you had any issues with yellowing? We used, what I would think is a similar product, "Clear bra" on a ranger's front end and it turned a horrid yellow color within a few years.
a clear bra is a general term for that sort of urethane protective film. technology for clear bras and that film has advanced quite a bit over the past decade or so, and especially in the past five years. the old stuff yellowed easily - it didn't matter what brand, it all was terrible. also, cheap stuff will act like that, even now.

films from most of the popular mainstream suppliers should not cause any of those issues at this point in time.
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Old 04-12-2012, 12:37 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sploder1992
Have you had any issues with yellowing? We used, what I would think is a similar product, "Clear bra" on a ranger's front end and it turned a horrid yellow color within a few years.
....no such issues after 2 years but admittedly my Challenger is parked in a garage and is not my daily-driver. Also, these films are not necessarily the same as the clear bra material (its thicker as well).
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Old 04-12-2012, 02:24 PM   #14
Cobrakai
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caterpill View Post
To OP - just wondering, but have you ever come across headlights that appear to have "spider web" cracks?

I assume long-term use of cheap HID bulbs with excessive UV output are the culprit for the plastic degradation.

You can bring the outside surface (and inside if needed) to near-perfect condition, but once the headlights are turned on, you can see how the spider webbing diffuses your beam pattern and causes glare.

I guess the only recourse is a new set of headlights, no?

Btw the results of your headlight restoration is amazing.

Thank you for the kind words! Have you tried to restore the lenses? If so what sandpaper/products, and was it by hand or machine?



If they're past the point of restoration you could buy a used set of headlights on ebay/here and swap out the lenses. Also if you wanted to make some money back you could resell the headlights with your lenses on there for cheap.


Just food for thought.
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Old 04-13-2012, 01:02 AM   #15
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Here's a Before and After photo in detail. I am seriously amazed at how awesome these came out.
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Old 04-13-2012, 01:11 AM   #16
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Nice work!
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Old 04-13-2012, 01:17 AM   #17
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Great writeup, I did something similar but instead of manual sanding I did the one that came in a turtle wax headlight restoration kit.
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Old 04-13-2012, 01:41 AM   #18
Cobrakai
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Thanks for the kind words again guys, having my cousin design a business card for this. I see so many crusty/hazy headlights I figure why the hell not!


Here's a set of S2K headlights I did a few weeks ago. He had a craigslist "restoration specialist" do his headlights last year and here was the outcome!


Before -




And After -




These were by far the worst headlights I have EVER seen and took quite a while to bring back to life.



Going to do an 06 WRX with some heavily pitted lenses most likely next weekend, just waiting for some new product to come in the mail.

I'll try do do a more in depth step by step write up.


Thanks again
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