foggy headlights

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On my 10 year old van the headlight lens are becomming real foggy. It`s almost as if they have been sandblasted. What can I do to make them clear again? Can I use a buffer wheel in a drill with some sort of rubbing compound? Please help.
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On Sat, 28 Apr 2012 06:34:54 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (Herb Eneva) wrote:

http://www.permatexrepair.com/product/lens
"Headlight restoration kit" --
My son works at a dealership in the prep bay. He was a skeptic when they told him to restore a couple headlights on a used car-- Now he's a believer. [but for *his* car, he'd just buy a new set of glass, despite the cost.]
Jim
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On 4/28/2012 7:23 AM, Jim Elbrecht wrote:

Instructional video is good. You could duplicate materials. I used to use toothpaste to polish up a plastic watch lens. Any mild abrasive would work but at all costs, avoid solvents, as they could ruin the plastic lens.
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wrote:

Nothing better than new lens, but you can defog/descratch pretty well much more cheaply with the DIY remedies. I used this on 2 cars. Bought it for 7 bucks or so. (Amazon.com product link shortened) I did a Amazon review July 4, 2011. That about covers it in my experience. Just needed a clean rag.
--
Vic

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Herb Eneva wrote the following on 4/28/2012 6:34 AM (ET):

I've used polishing compound with the drill and buffer and had good results. Even the TV advertised products don't do any better.
--
Bill
In Hamptonburgh, NY
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I used plastic polish and a foam pad on my cordless drill. But after a few months(in central Florida),it clouds up again. the key is that the lenses are coated with a UV protectant at the factory. I discovered a restorer kit that includes a packet of coating/sealant that has the UV protectant,and it lasted over a year before my 94 Integra GS-R was stolen,stripped and torched. the name of the kit is CrystalView Headlight Restorer/Defogger,and I bought it at WalMart for $20. It comes with polishing compound,ultrafine sandpaper,and polishing cloths for badly scratched lenses. I haven't seen it there lately but they may still have it at the online WalMart store.
The MGF website is MyHeadlight.com
Disclaimer; have no financial connection with the company or WalMart.
--
Jim Yanik
jyanik
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On Sat, 28 Apr 2012 06:34:54 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (Herb Eneva) wrote:

Actually I just use Bonami or Comet (household cleansers) with a sponge and it works good on my 10 year old car. Honestly it comes out almost as new. If you look real for imperfections, of course not new but it's reasonably close .... surely works at nite a lot better without a doubt. I never did this but I bet with a buffer, it would be even better but for me, its easy enough to do by hand and looks pretty good.
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I use rubbing compound by hand. Works great. No need to spend money on a headlight "restoration" kit.
This is what I use. I bought it for a car that needed some oxidation removed.
http://www.turtlewax.com/product-detail.aspx?prodid=76
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When it comes to fogged-up headlight lenses - is it the inside surface or the outside surface that needs polishing?
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Duh!
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Frank wrote:

I'm serious.
Which side of the lens turns cloudy or milky -> and why?
You don't see tail-light lenses turn cloudy, even though they seem to be made from the same plastic...
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On 04/28/2012 11:41 AM, Home Guy wrote:

I've seen it, on cars that sit outside all the time. Polishing/waxing your light lenses at the same time that you do the paint keeps them looking shiny however.
I recently bought an old Jeep Cherokee and apparently a PO had gouged the 3rd brake light either by backing into something or else loading something on top of the vehicle, so while collecting parts for some other stuff I wanted to do (specifically, adding a factory fog light switch and cruise control) had a guy that was parting out a wrecked vehicle send me his 3rd brake light. It was all kinds of pink and hazy looking, but I just hit it with some old Zymol that I found in my box of detailing stuff, now it looks like new.
I've also noticed that the clear turn signal repeaters on A4 chassis VWs seem to age particularly badly, although fortunately for owners of those cars, replacements aren't expensive if they don't buff out.
Now why headlights, probably the most important light of the vehicle, seem to weather worse than most other light lenses, I don't know - but they do seem to. Maybe it's because a lot of them are "laid back" so they are more exposed to the sun's rays than a typical taillight? In any case most of the weathering seems to be on the outside of the lens, and it's always related to sun exposure.
This is a reason that I like good old sealed-beam format headlights (so I can replace them with E-code assemblies with glass lenses) I have seen some European vehicle-specific headlights w/ glass lenses (VW Corrado for example) but I don't think I've ever seen a glass lens on a US market car outside of a sealed beam; I don't know why that is. Plastic is definitely a step back in durability and clarity (at least after they fog up) for sure.
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
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yeah,any plastic polish works good for plain fogging. I used a foam pad on my cordless drill.

the headlight lenses are polycarbonate plastic that's dipped in a coating that is hard and protects from UV. Glass lenses were great,but would shatter from stones thrown up by semis and other vehicles. They also could not be molded into complex shapes without great cost,and then there was the advent of halogen bulbs in the headlight/reflector assembly. Polycarbonate(Lexan) is less prone to shatter from such road debris,but NEEDS the anti-UV coating to last. But it eventually wears away,and then the lenses degrade.
--
Jim Yanik
jyanik
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The outside. The problem appears to be UV light from the sun.

I believe headlamps are made of polycarbonate. Other lenses are usually made of acrylic (PMMA).
By law, plastic headlight lenses must be coated with an anti-abrasion epoxy. It's that epoxy which discolors as a consequence of UV. No other plastic lenses need be so coated, so those generally don't go yellow or cloud-over.
As for a fix, most garages, bodyshops, and detailing places offer headlamp- lens-cleaning services. They work surprisingly well. Auto-supply stores, Walmart, and other retailers offer DIY kits that do much the same thing.
--
Tegger

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Ah so it's CONGRESS's fault
Mark
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"The previous administration. It's worse than I thought. We're fighting for legislaion to resolve this. Now, let me make my self perfectly clear."
B.H.O. .

Ah so it's CONGRESS's fault
Mark
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I don't think it was a Congressional law. I think this one was an NHTSA modification to FMVSS-108, the NHTSA's lighting regulations.
Automakers in the early-'80s petitioned the NHTSA for permission to 1) make headlights something other than square or round, so as to improve aerodynamics, and 2) make them out of plastic, which would help meet CAFE regulations by saving weight over glass. The NHTSA eventually granted permission, with the proviso that the new- design lenses be coated with anti-abrasive compound.
I think the 1987 Mustang was the first car to have the new plastic design. Those headlights were yellowing within a couple of years. They've improved the expoxies a lot since then, but they still eventually go opaque in time.
--
Tegger

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On 4/28/2012 11:59 AM, Tegger wrote: ...

...
Well, no, not quite...
NHTSA has a bunch of requirements that lighting must meet but they do not mandate any specific material or manufacturing technique, only the performance requirements the end product must meet.
There's a reg's that requires that _if_ a coating is used to meet the performance standards (brightness, color, etc.) that that coating must contain a UV-detectable component so that it (the coating) can be shown to be present in the production products but there's nothing that says if can make the specifications w/o a coating you have to use one for any purpose. The practicalities are that coatings are needed to meet the performance spec's but that's not the way the reg's are written.
The tests are multitudinous and detailed, particularly for color matching. The weathering test is outlined as--

There are something like 300 pages of more fascinating bedtime reading but the word "epoxy" doesn't appear.
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You're right.
But meeting those performance requirements effectively means the application of a coating on the underlying plastic, since there currently does not exist a practical plastic with the stability and surface-hardness required to pass the tests without a coating being applied. My understanding is that the coating ends up being a cross-linked polymer, an epoxy.
--
Tegger

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On 5/3/2012 7:59 AM, Tegger wrote:

I've no clue on actual materials; whatever the treatment(s) are the spec's are performance not material based is the point.
The abrasion one is probably as minimal of a one as any; I expect the photometry and UV testing are at least as difficult to meet. To my surprise an impact test itself didn't seem to be mentioned...
--
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