Polishing my headlights

3 weeks ago I polished my headlight lenses.
They came out great.
I had replaced a bulb and noticed again how cloudy they were, 2005 car.
It took about 2 hours but would have taken less if my back didn't hurt
and I had to sit down over and over, and if then I didn't start
listening to the radio on the day that the presidential election was
called. So maybe an hour.
Instructions said to wash the lenses.
Also to mask the painted part around the lenses. I had 3 rolls of
masking tape, the youngest 25 years old. I checked in advance and the
first roll worked fine, stuck fine, came off fine, but on the day I did
this, I couldn't tear off an 10" piece without it ripping at 4 inches.
I didn't test for that. But the 3rd roll worked.
Use Surface Activator, from the second kit, near the bottom.
Then for this kit, 3M Headlight Lens Restoration System, 39008
One kit may not be enough. Ugh, now they tell me.
I chose this kit because it didnt' expect me to do the sanding by hand.
For the first sanding, it came with 6 ~3" disks that stuck easily on the
arbor they included. I thought putting disks on and off was hard,
involved a screw. Has something changed in the last 35 years?????
I figured that meant 3 disks per headlight but after the left side, the
disk seemed fine so I did the right side. It didnt' seem bad after the
right side ei4ther. Finished the first step and had 5 disks left. Maybe
I'm not doing it right.
For the second sanding, it came with 2 ~3" disks. But it took only one,
so maybe I'm not doing it right. But even before the third step, the
plastic looked clear
The third step was a liquid rubbing compound that went on a foam rubber
thing that also went on the drill.
Then go on to the fourth step.**
Read all the instructions for any product you buy because some I've left
out, like not keeping the drill in the same place so long you melt the
lens. Especially if you're going to try to use two kits together.
The sanding instructions keep saying that if you do more in this step,
you won't have to do so much in the next, but I went over each area 2 or
3 times with a spinning drill and that was all. Maybe mine were not
that bad, even though they looked it.
**This one comes either with sand paper etc also; and also comes with
only this liquid that's supposed to protect for UV. The first kit and
some other had nothing that claimed to do that. This product actually
has a first step Surface Activator, that I did before using the other
product above, and then the instructions recognize that you may buy
another product for the sanding, and ends with a third step to apply the
anti-uv. It ssays iirc to apply more every 3 months but there is no way
I'm going to do that.
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Plenty of rubbing compound left over and plenty of anti-UV liquid also.

Finally took it out for a drive 4AM yesterday. I didn't see much
difference, couldn't say for sure there was any, but i"m sure the light
had been diffused before meaning less where it's supposed to be and some
in eyes of the oncoming driver. I'm sure it was worth it for the light
and it looks great.
$13.14 for the first thing and the second thing has become unavailable,
at least on Amazon, but I paid $9.99
You can still get
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$20. It's the same as the one that's unavailable but the extra $10
pays for polish clothes, vinyl gloves (whoopdedo), and 3 kinds of
sandpaper but not stuff that will fit on a drill.
To get the $10 kit somewhere else, the Sylvania website only suggest
Advance has it but only for buying at the store. No shipping for some
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But I'm sure this isn't the only anti-UV stuff and I have no reason to
think this one is better than the others. Maybe none of them work.
Maybe they only made the instruction complicated to make me think it
works? (I didn't look at reviews because one would need years to judge
this stuff.)
Ebay has it too, but for 19 or 19.48 and for 50 cents or a dollar more
you can get the bigger kit.
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Thank you for the information on this. I've been meaning to do this on two of my cars for a while. Replacement OEM are likely worth more than the entire car at this point, and they are getting really cloudy.
Reply to
In alt.home.repair, on Fri, 27 Nov 2020 09:53:59 -0500, micky
It seems there are advance autoparts in 47 states and the Virgin Islands.
Over 4000 branches. but not alaska, hawaii, or california.
Reply to
For "dead" masking tape here is a trick, put it in a microwave for 10-20 seconds depending on roll size. It will make it like new again.
One kit may not be enough. Ugh, now they tell me.
I have used the 3M kit but as you noted most of the kit's come with nothing for UV. To really make them last the best solution is to sand the old crud off in steps, then polish the light up, clean it very well and spray it with an automotive clear top coat to seal it and keep the UV from damaging it any more. You can buy that in spray cans now with an activator in the bottom. You pop the bottom button and shake the crap out of it, then let it set for however long they say, that lets the two parts start to blend well and then you apply it in thin coats.
Reply to
Steve W.
One kit may not be enough.  Ugh, now they tell me.
Remember when we had sealed beam headlights? Plain, cheap Glass.
You could buy replacements at any store, even Kmart or later walmart.
Now, we piss around with cheap plastic covered expensive stuff.
Reply to
Hank Rogers
And bumpers were made of chromed steel and were made to BUMP! Now they have a protective plastic sheath that needs to be replaced. It's made of black plastic, so if your car is white the scuff shows REALLY well.
They're not designed for US any more...
Reply to
The Real Bev
In alt.home.repair, on Fri, 27 Nov 2020 18:05:44 -0600, Hank Rogers
Good to know. BTW, I didn't buy more than one of those rolls. Maybe note even 1.
And they never burned out. Though I decided to get fancy and I replaced them once with halogen, and those did burn out.
Reply to
Your memory of sealed beams is different than mine. Besides replacing a few on my own cars, I saw many "one-eyed" cars on the road. That's a rare sight nowadays.
Reply to
Vic Smith
One kit may not be enough. Ugh, now they tell me.
Modern lights do a far better job of focusing nice white light where it needs to be and blend in with the styling and aerodynamics of the car. I sure wouldn't trade them for sealed beams. Polishing the lenses after many years and miles to restore them isn't a big deal.
Reply to
In my experience with many vehicles and sealed beams, they rarely burned out. With the bulb type, my failure rate is high, the BMW every one or two years one fails. But in all other respects, they are far superior.
Reply to
In alt.home.repair, on Sat, 28 Nov 2020 06:18:47 -0600, Vic Smith
Well maybe I didn't drive as much as I could have.
But I drive less now than I did then, and I was one-eyed twice in the last two years. Occasionally when I'm facing something reflective, a store window, certain cars, I test my headlights but I don't know how long they had been out. There are enough street lights here that unless I go to the next town at night, I can't tell by how well I can see.
Also one fog light burned out. Will the police stop you for that? I guess, if allowed, it would make a good excuse and they like to stop people.
Reply to
Police where? AFAIK fog lights are not required in NJ, there might be some state that does, but I doubt it. From my experience they are close to worthless anyway. Maybe if you live somewhere that regularly has serious fog, they might be useful.
Reply to
At least in some states, if the car has them they must work in order to pass inspection. Unless foggy, they would not be on anyway so the police would not stop you. Of the 30 or so cars I've owned, only a few had fog lights. Just three I can think of and I never used them.
Reply to
Ed Pawlowski
In alt.home.repair, on Sat, 28 Nov 2020 09:47:23 -0800 (PST), trader_4
In Eldersburg, for example.
They're not required in Maryland either, but if the car has fog lights and you have a time-of-sale inspection, the fog lights have to work.
So if one fog light is on, the cop will know that the car has fog lights and that one is not working, and it's certainly possible that that's a violation.
Sometimes around here there is heavy fog.
Reply to
In alt.home.repair, on Sat, 28 Nov 2020 13:33:43 -0500, micky
Ed's post reminds me. It's not just possible. It's a fact, because even though cars here only have to go for inspection when they are being sold, they have to be able to pass inspection at all times. If a cop notices something, he's supposed to give, I don't know what it's called, a conditional ticket, that gives you 30 or sumpin' days to get the car fixed and take it to a police station to either show that it's fixed or, iirc, show the receipt for getting it fixed.
Reply to
It varies from state to state and IDK what the latest status is, but some states required no inspections. Others like here in NJ used to be annual. We have state inspection stations. They used to check most things, lights, horn, windshield wipers, cracks in glass, tire tread. They lifted the front of the car up, shook the wheels to see if ball joints were loose. The drove it forward slowly to a spot with a brake force pad, slammed on the brakes and red fluid would rise in cylinders on a test jig, showing force on each wheel. Then they added emissions testing, even running it on a dynamometer. That cost cost us a a billion and it was screwed royally, didn't work at first, lines hours long waiting to get inspected. That was from a federal mandate under Clinton.
Then just a few years later, the feds suddenly decided that the info from the car's computer was sufficient, so they tore out the billion of gear they had just put in. Surely the EPA had to know that the OBD method was available and either was or soon would be available. That's why many of us are very skeptical of the environmentalists.
And today here in NJ that's all they check, emissions via hooking up to the OBD port on the car. You can drive in with headlights out or pointed to blind oncoming traffic, bad brakes, cracked winshield, loose suspension parts. None of it is checked or matters. Just emissions. Pass and it's good for 2 years. And new cars are exempt for 5 years. And in all my years, I can't recall reading about a single accident that was caused by a fault on a car in NJ. Other states tested nothing and I don't think they had any worse accident stats. So I guess all that testing was for nothing.
Reply to
In article snipped-for-privacy@mid.individual.net>, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.co.uk says...
I am not sure about all states, but many do require an anual inspection. In NC you take your car to an inspection place , when it passes the computer sends a message to the NC Department of Motor Vehicles. Then you can either send for a license tag renewal by mail or go to the local tag office. Being on the computer I have left the inspection place and less than an hour later picked up the new tag sticker at the local tag office. No up to date inspection means the sticker for the license tag is not renewed.
Some inspection places are a joke. There was a place I took my car to regularry and the inspection was just a matter of scraping off the old sticker and putting on a new one when it was put on the window. Now they do not put the sticker on the window. Being retired now and most of my vehicles have low milage on them, I just go to the local dealer and get it inspected and the oil changed.
About all that can not be bypassed now that I know of is the newer cars are plugged in to the computer system tht reads the computer in the car.
Reply to
Ralph Mowery
I grew up in PA and inspection was a joke and often a fraud. I wen to a place like you mention. You had to stay and BS with Frank for 20 minutes as that is how long a legal inspection should take and at times, there would be state inspectors watching. He did check lights though as that was easily spotted.
Another place I took the three family cars to did not check some things I knew were wrong but every one needed a headlight adjustment for an extra $2. Every station had a gimmick like that. The fact you could not see out the fogged convertible roof window did not matter.
Sadly, others were thieves. Yes ma'am, you need some front end bushings, or a drag link or some other money making thing the average person had no idea how to check.
Reply to
Ed Pawlowski
In CT the state police have some discretion and one in particular was a real dick. He stopped a car with a headlight out. The woman had the light she just bought and was on her way home to have it put in. The dick cop still gave her a ticket. Most would just send you on your was since it was obvious you'd take care of it. There were other stories about him too.
Reply to
Ed Pawlowski

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