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Old 08-27-2010, 03:36 PM   Thread Starter #1
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Default How to Fix Dull Headlights

Full credit for this goes to Packetattack on nycmaximas.org. You can try this at your own risk. You shouldnt have to remove your lights to do this but you may need to mask areas around the lights to protect your paint.


**Credit goes to Dave Holmes from Maxima.org for the first writeup that I modelled mine after. **

I made this writeup for everyone that has pitted, fogged or yellowed headlights and wanted to get them super crystal clear again. DO NOT USE THIS METHOD ON GLASS. This applies only to polycarbonate/acrylic/plastic headlights.

The process is very simple, you just need to follow the instructions and take your time. I have professional polishing equipment, ie. Porter Cable, drill buffers etc. but didn't use them, because I know a lot of people here don't have this equipment and I wanted to show that its still quite possible by hand. It takes about a good 45 minutes - 1 hour per headlight by hand.

Supplies needed

1. 3M Imperial Wet/Dry Sandpaper in the following grits listed below. You can get this sandpaper at almost any Autozone. Its usually right in the aisle that has all the autobody repair supplies.
400, 600, 800, 1000, 1500, 2000

For the first two base grits, if the lights aren't too bad, you can start with a 600 or 800. If they are heavily pitted or clouded up, start with 400.

You might have problems finding 600, so its fine to jump to 800 from 400.


2. Novus 3 step plastic polish or 3M Finecut rubbing compound or Blue Magic Plastic Polish. I find that the Novus is really the best, but its not sold in any stores, its mail order only.

3. A bowl into which you should mix lukewarm water with 6 drops of dishwashing detergent. Since you will be wetsanding the soapy water helps to keep the sandpaper a lot cleaner and provide a slippier surface to sand on.

4. Paper towels and two soft cloths. Do not use rough cloths for polishing.

5. A laundry tub or kitchen sink.

---------

METHOD

Start with the 400 grit sandpaper if your lights are really bad. Otherwise start with the 800. Wet the paper thoroughly in the soapy water you prepared beforehand. Start sanding the lens, circular motions and back and forth as well.

Progress through the various other grits when you feel the surface getting smoother under the paper and no further resistance is being offered.

DO NOT WORRY IF THE LIGHTS GET VERY CLOUDY. This is perfectly normal, and is a result of the color sanding. You want to sand with the lowest grit paper listed until all your pits/road damage/haze/fogginess is gone.

KEEP THE PAPER WET AT ALL TIMES! CONSTANTLY DIP THE PAPER IN AND OUT OF THE SOLUTION. DON'T WORRY ABOUT A LOT OF SOAPY WATER ON THE HEADLIGHT LENS. YOU WANT THAT.


TWO PICS OF THE LIGHT I STARTED WITH

Very badly damaged. These weren't being used on my car, just a few sets of 4th gen headlights I had lying around, that I decided to use. You can see how foggy they are.

Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

STARTING WITH 400 GRIT ON THESE USELESS HEADLIGHTS. LOOK AT HOW FOGGY THEY ARE!

Click the image to open in full size.

MOVING UP TO 800 GRIT NOW

Click the image to open in full size.

KEEP THAT SANDPAPER CONSTANTLY WET IN THE SOAPY WATER

Click the image to open in full size.

NEXT MOVE UP! 1000 GRIT

Click the image to open in full size.

1500 GRIT NEXT! SEEING A LITTLE CLARITY NOW!

Click the image to open in full size.

2000 GRIT! LAST AND FINAL SANDING OPERATION

Click the image to open in full size.

CLEAN IT UP. WIPE IT DOWN. MAKE SURE ITS COMPLETELY DRY.

Click the image to open in full size.

SANDING DONE! TIME TO START POLISHING OPERATION WITH NOVUS #3

Click the image to open in full size.

TIME FOR NOVUS #2! I CAN SEE CLARITY COMING THROUGH NOW!

Click the image to open in full size.

CLEAN UP TIME WITH NOVUS #1. WOW! BRAND NEW HEADLIGHT!

Click the image to open in full size.

JUST INCREDIBLE! FINAL RESULT. COMPARE IT TO THE BEFORE PIC!

BEFORE:
Click the image to open in full size.
AFTER:
hClick the image to open in full size.
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Old 08-29-2010, 10:54 AM   #2
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlights

Yeah, this definitely works. Alternatively you can just do one step of wetsanding and hit it with 3M rubbing compound using a rotary 3" foam pad.
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Old 08-29-2010, 10:56 AM   #3
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlights

Silverfox04, where are you? lol

He needs this big time.
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Old 08-29-2010, 11:00 AM   #4
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlights

i just did mine with turtle wax headlight restoration kit, it comes with the lubricant, compound and sandpaper, they came out great
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Old 09-04-2010, 02:55 AM   #5
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlights

I use Mother's Powerball and Mequiars Scratch X. I touch them up about once a month. But if your lights are really bad then wet sanding is the way to go.
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Old 09-04-2010, 03:42 AM   #6
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlights

Yeah, I use Scratch X and Meguiars plastX
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Old 09-04-2010, 03:50 PM   #7
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlights

I just used the Mequiars plastX on my wife's accord and it was pretty good.
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Old 09-04-2010, 04:00 PM   #8
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlights

Yeah man, it works even better after you use the scratch x and buff the living shizz out of it LOL BUT, it doesn't fix rock chips obviously.
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Old 09-12-2010, 12:58 PM   #9
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlights

I tried the above method and a couple of other "kits", lots of sanding and polishing. Even had them done professionally once and they never came out good.

So I saw the "headlight restoration kit" from Meguiar's and figured I'd give it one more try. This kit worked the best of anything and they look like (almost) new, no sanding just polish and wipe away!!!!

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http://www.meguiarsdirect.com/detail/MEG+G1900
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Old 03-31-2012, 12:40 AM   #10
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlight's

It may sound crazy but i saw a vid on youtube saying you could clean headlights with toothpaste...just apply it over the whole headlight and then rub it in circular motions and let it sit for a while...the spray with water and wipe it down! Worked pretty good lol
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Old 03-31-2012, 01:13 AM   #11
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlight's

Originally Posted by Black07Maxi View Post
It may sound crazy but i saw a vid on youtube saying you could clean headlights with toothpaste...just apply it over the whole headlight and then rub it in circular motions and let it sit for a while...the spray with water and wipe it down! Worked pretty good lol
Toothpaste will work temporarily but you need to sand followed by polish to get rid of pits or scratches or the yellow cracked layer. That is key to crystal clear headlights.
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Old 03-31-2012, 01:57 AM   #12
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlight's

Great write up.. Did this a few years back on my 96 Maxima..
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Old 03-31-2012, 08:40 AM   #13
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlight's

Did this on my Girls G20 but used the 3m kit which was 20 bucks. Best 20 bucks ever spent.
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Low & Slow!!! And I stop at potholes lol
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Old 03-31-2012, 12:16 PM   #14
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlight's

did everyone who purchased the meguiars was it the plastx kit? amazon only has it at about 3.5 stars. my headlights aren't that scratched up just a few spotty areas, would i be better off doing the sanding method or just buying the kit? thanks
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Old 03-31-2012, 12:16 PM   #15
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlights

Lol, the best result I got was to buy some new ones, and sell my old ones, with wet sanding and polishing it comes back later.


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Old 04-01-2012, 09:18 AM   #16
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlight's

Originally Posted by DJ Rowdy View Post
Lol, the best result I got was to buy some new ones, and sell my old ones, with wet sanding and polishing it comes back later.


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it will comes back if youdont seal the headlight afer sanding.I used the3m kit and it works well
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Low & Slow!!! And I stop at potholes lol
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Old 04-01-2012, 09:55 AM   #17
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlight's

Originally Posted by Hmax View Post
it will comes back if youdont seal the headlight afer sanding.I used the3m kit and it works well
Thats why I need to start buying tools and doing things myself, cause these shops around me do things half ass, with in three months of having one of these shops wet sand headlamps, that yellow color comes back, I guess of lack of UV coating, or coating in general.
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Old 04-01-2012, 10:01 AM   #18
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlight's

Originally Posted by DJ Rowdy View Post
Thats why I need to start buying tools and doing things myself, cause these shops around me do things half ass, with in three months of having one of these shops wet sand headlamps, that yellow color comes back, I guess of lack of UV coating, or coating in general.
To be honest dude, I am very badd at doing things like this but, its freaking fool proof to buy the 3m kit. Watch 2-4 youtube videos and you are all set. The headlights on my girls g20 were YELLOW LIKE A BANANA, lol.

I used my neighbors dewalt drill(plug in tye) and it works like a charm. I would suggest using a drill that uses a plug instead of batteries, this way you dont need to have 2 batteries.

look up the 3m kit. The g20 lights are still good and its been 3 months
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Old 04-01-2012, 10:07 AM   #19
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlight's

I feel you, I been getting more hands on with my car since I swap my front bumper, and yesterday I help my boy with his H.I.D's, before I would just pay some cat to do it, but now i'm saving money and gaining knowledge. "Winning"
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Old 04-03-2012, 03:23 PM   #20
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlight's

I'm confused. I have yellowed headlights on my 04 Max. Am i suppose to sand the outside or the inside because all that fogging/yellowing appears to be on the inside of the headlight. Maybe i just dont know what im talking about lol. But i plan on painting the inner housing of the headlight black as well as putting in my LED switchbacks this week and i figured id clean the headlights while i was at it. I just thought it was the inside that need to be washed and sanded.
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Old 04-04-2012, 04:42 PM   #21
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlight's

Originally Posted by Cheeto View Post
Toothpaste will work temporarily but you need to sand followed by polish to get rid of pits or scratches or the yellow cracked layer. That is key to crystal clear headlights.
Aaaah interesting i did not know that ...yea i tried it on a mazda and it looked clean for a while but then the next day it got wrecked in the front so i never got to tell how long it would have lasted clean. lol
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Old 05-13-2013, 06:03 PM   #22
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlight's

I know this is an old thread which is why I am asking this question...

In the almost 3 years since this post was written, have any new products been made that do a better job at solving the yellowing problem?
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Old 05-13-2013, 08:11 PM   #23
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlights

Originally Posted by Chaz7979 View Post
I know this is an old thread which is why I am asking this question...

In the almost 3 years since this post was written, have any new products been made that do a better job at solving the yellowing problem?
In my research they all work fine. The problem is finding a good clear coat for them so they won't go dull in a month. The yellowing is the factory clear oxidizing when you take that off there's nothing there to protect them. Wax them every car wash is what I do..
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Old 05-14-2013, 12:41 AM   #24
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlight's

If you don't like sanding try this...
If your lights are real bad you will need to sand it.

Then dab on this...
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Old 05-14-2013, 11:23 AM   #25
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Default Re: How to Fix Dull Headlights

Originally Posted by incubus0111 View Post
If you don't like sanding try this...
If your lights are real bad you will need to sand it.

Then dab on this...
Good info dude. I'm gonna have to try that.
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cloudy, foggy, headlights, lights

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