Ugly headlights
May 16, 2008 11:14 AM   Subscribe

My truck is starting to get ugly cloudy headlights. What's a cheap inexpensive way to make them look new again?
posted by kowboy to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I bought new lenses. i think they were ~$30 each. Considering that they should last like 10 years, they're not that expensive.

I don't think there's any way to repair them.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 11:24 AM on May 16, 2008

Response by poster: I thought about buying new lenses but mine would cost over $300.00. So im open to ANY ideas on how to clean them up, before I go out and buy new ones.
posted by kowboy at 11:33 AM on May 16, 2008

Aren't they glass? Could you disassemble the headlight housing and try using windex, ammonia, or vinegar?
posted by TheNewWazoo at 11:48 AM on May 16, 2008

there is a scratch removal polish used by car restorers and made by Maguiar's (sp?)

More here:
posted by mecran01 at 11:50 AM on May 16, 2008

This seems perfectly doable with a little elbow grease if they are plastic. Here is a good DIY from VWvortex forums.
posted by clarkie666 at 11:52 AM on May 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh and quote the article "Please be careful. Do this procedure at your own risk, I can't be held responsible..." (but I am going to do this for the gf's bug using this DIY soon)
posted by clarkie666 at 11:53 AM on May 16, 2008

The thing with mine though, was that the cloudiness seemed to be inside the plastic. I figured it was due to the plastic breaking down.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 11:59 AM on May 16, 2008

They actually make a product to remove the yellowing/cloudiness. I bought this stuff for my '96 car with original plastic headlight covers and totally noticed a difference. They must have something similar where ever you are.
posted by impactorange at 11:59 AM on May 16, 2008

I just did this on my car, you'll need to wetsand and use some paint/plastic polish. You can do the polishing by hand, but a rotary buffer will help, I used a dremel with the felt disc.

I used 1500 and 2000 sand paper and PlastX.
posted by wongcorgi at 12:32 PM on May 16, 2008

posted by jet_silver at 1:14 PM on May 16, 2008

2nding wongcorgi

i separated my headlights a while back to paint some of the reflective material black. while i had the glass off, i wetsanded it.

a rotary buffer / orbital sander will save your elbows. follow up with plastX or scratchX, both of which should be available at autozone, target, or walmart.
posted by phritosan at 2:14 PM on May 16, 2008

Response by poster: thanks for all the answers guys, im going to try all of them before i give in to buying new lenses!!
posted by kowboy at 2:21 PM on May 16, 2008

I had excellent luck with polishing compound. If I remember right, turtle wax has two varieties- a tub and a bottle. The stuff in the bottle is like $7 and worked pretty good. The stuff in the tub seemed a little harsher. This stuff. Seemed to be the best bank for the buck, dollar-wise and effort-wise.

(Not "polish" but "polishing compound".)

I tried wet sanding, but I found that it was too harsh for the plastic on my lenses. Removed the yellow but left them hazy.

I'm not sure of the exact technicalities of this, but it seemed like there was a "clear coat" sort of coating on the lenses. The sanding removed this. The polish didn't.
posted by gjc at 7:15 PM on May 16, 2008

Plastx by itself actually did about 60-70% of the work on my car. This weekend I plan on wetsanding to get the rest. To do it really right, you'll need some sort of UV sealant to re-instate what you wore off. I don't know if regular car polish works for that purpose.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:50 PM on May 16, 2008

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