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Old 11-26-2005, 07:37 PM   #1
Scooby Newbie
Member#: 31474
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Lakewood, CO
2003 Forester
2007 Frontier SE

Default How to: clean nasty/pitted fog/headlamp lenses

Posted this on i-club/scoobymods but here it is again:

Story Time
My car ('03 Forester 2.5x) has had a tough life. It spent it's first 45k in Wyoming, communiting from Chayenne to Laramie (~50mi each way with NASTY roads) 5 days a week. Then, I bought it and life has not gotten much easier, with now nearly 20k worth of mountain driving and sand to pummel it's front end. Needless to say, the headlamps and foglamps were pretty damn messed up and looked terrible. I saw things such as Meguiars PlastiX but didn't believe it would do anything, so I decided to put together all the things on wet sanding and such into my own meathod.

How to: Clean those nasty fog/headlamp lenses
First, I removed the foglamp assemblies. This was simply to make it easier to get at the strange shaped areas of the lens. Removing the foglamp is pretty easy (Here can be found how-to for the forester).

Before cleaning, after removal:

What you need

1. 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper: If your lenses are only lightly pitted, then skip this and go to 800. However, if yours are deeply pitted like mine were, I would suggest using 400 first.
2. 800 grit wet/dry sandpaper
3. 1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper: maybe a little overkill, but I used it because it came in a set of assorted sandpaper purchased from Autozone.
4. 1500 grit wet/dry sandpaper: Overkill again, but it worked for me
5. 2000 grit wet/dry sandpaper: VERY IMPORTANT! I thought I could get away with just 1500, but I had to go and purchase 2000 to get rid of a lot of the larger scrapes.
6. Turtle wax: Really, any wax or even polish will do, but this is what I had handy.
7. Meguiars Chanuba wax: A harder shell to go on top
8. Some sort of other protectant: I ignored this step as I am installing Rockblockers tommorow, but you need somesort of clear coat to protect the shine.
Optional: Buffer, which I used and helped shine up the lenses.

1. Clean off the lens thoroughly with Windex or other glass cleaner. I then used rubbing alchohol to get rid of any remaining contaminants.

2. Begin wet sanding with either 400 or 800 grit sandpaper, depending on how deeply pitted your lamps are. For those of you who do not know the process of wet sanding, your goal is to keep the paper and surface wet at all times. This way, all the things you are rubbing off run off instead of sticking to the surface. I had the faucet running lightly the whole time I was doing it and every 15-20sec would put the paper under it and occasionally wash off the lens. You should begin to see the water turn white from the clearcoat/plastic you are rubbing off. Furthermore, your lens should start to look very scratched up from the sandpaper, but don't worry this will go away.

3. Continue process with 800, 1000, and 1500 grit sandpaper spending aroudnd the same amount of time on each grit (~5-7min)

4. Continue same process with 2000 grit, except be VERY thorough this time. I spent 10-15 min per lens at this level to remove the last imperfections. Do not worry if even after this level, it still looks very scratched up as that is how it should.

5. Clean the lens VERY WELL. I used windex, soft scrub, and finally rubbing alchohol to get all the particles off. It should look slightly clearer after this step. If you have a buffer, buff the surface after you clean it.

6. Apply turtle (or other hard-shell) wax. Cover the surface so it is almost entirely covered and let dry COMPLETELY. Wipe clean, and you will see how great your lens is going to look.

7. Apply Meguiars chanuba wax (or other final-step wax) in a similar meathod, and after dry wipe clean. Now you will see how great your new light looks!

8. Buff if you have a buffer to remove any final scratches.

9. Apply protectant or rockblocker. I am not entirely sure this step is neccecary, as other things I have read ignored this step. I'll update after I drive a few days without rockblockers and take the car to the wash once.
Now you have nice, new looking head/foglamp lenses without the $300 price tag. There will still be some of the deep imprefections left, but they will feel smooth to the touch and look much better.

I also did the headlamps, but did them while on the car. The method is the same, just in done while on the car. I protected the bumper with cloth and tape just to make cleanup easier.

Hope this helps!
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