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Thread: OT: Fogged Headlight Covers

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    Flute Maker is offline Cast Iron
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    Default OT: Fogged Headlight Covers

    There's an old posting from 9/06 about this, but now there are a lot of products in the store. Some with abrasives, and buffing wheels, some more simple. Any experience here. My '02 Camry is badly fogged.

    Payson.

  2. #2
    S_W_Bausch is offline Diamond
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    I 'punted' when my previous car had that problem; it was just one more problem that wasn't easily solved (at least for me).

    Find a good detailing shop, perhaps?
    Google "3M headlamp" see what 3M offers?

    I found this one, just to scare you:
    Walmart.com: 3M 02516 Headlight Lens Restoration System: Automotive

    Add up all the problems of the car, and then the 'wish list' of the next car. Perhaps it's time to move on?

  3. #3
    Weirsdale George is offline Stainless
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    I bought some plastic polish from the Walmart automotive section (maybe $4) and, with a litttle bit of elbow grease, cleaned up the lenses of my 2001 Dodge .

  4. #4
    jim rozen is offline Diamond
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    I was thinking of trying those things, but discovered that replacement headlight assemblies for my
    ford ranger pickup were 22 bucks each from rockauto.com.

    Have not pulled the trigger on that but if it gets to wintertime and I still have the truck that's the
    way I'm headed.

  5. #5
    S_W_Bausch is offline Diamond
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    If the problem is interior condensation and true "fogging" inside the lens, that's not so easily solved.

  6. #6
    IronReb is offline Hot Rolled
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    The head lights looked like crap on my wifes car,I went to AutoZone and bought this kit that came with a sanding disk you put in your drill with 3 grades of sandpaper and a polishing pad.
    First thing was buff it with the course grit followed with the next finer grit till you got down to the buffingpad with buffing compund it came with.Whole process was about 10 minutes per side.When done they were like brand new.If I remember correctly the kit was about $20.Much cheaper than what replacements were for a Toyota.

  7. #7
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    hachu is offline Plastic
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    i used micromesh sand paper from the shop
    and i purchased finer grits online
    started out with 240 and finished with 12000
    just keep it wet and clean
    took a little time
    and scrubbing but worked well

  8. #8
    Bill D is offline Titanium
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    I have read, maybe here, try a little toothpaste in one corner. be careful with any power tools you may melt the plastic. the clear plastic lens is actually fine. it has a special anti sunfade/weathering coating which has failed. all you have to do is to remove that coating and then the lens below is fine.
    Bill D.

  9. #9
    PixMan's Avatar
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    Some headlight housings, such as those on my now-extant 2002 BMW 530i, aren't coated at all. I don't know about the Camry, but it shouldn't matter much because the coating (if any) is very soft and would be so badly damaged it should just be removed.

    My car had the factory Hella Xenon lights, and at 125,000 miles (much of it highway) the lenses were quite cloudy and the focus of the beam was gone. There were some very deep pits from small rocks, no buffing ball or toothpaste was going to get the surface clear. Here's what the right side looked like:



    I went to the local chain auto parts store and got bonded abrasive (silicon carbide) sheets in 400, 600, 800, 1000, 1200, 1500, 2000 and 2500. I filled two 5 gallon buckets with clean water, and did a double rinse with each progressive grit size. By hand, it took about 3-4 minutes for the first, making sure all the biggest pits were out and the new scratch pattern was all going horizontal. Each successively finer grit took 2 minutes or less, going in the 90 away direction with each. It's very quick (hey, it's plastic), and it was so easy to see when each was done because the lay was now changed. This was how it looked after the 800 grit:



    By the time I got to the 2000, it was getting really hard to see the lay at all. It was that good. After the 2500, I did a quick buff with my finest buffing compound (Menzerna SuperFinish PO106FA) on a soft 5" foam pad on my Porter Cable 7424 random orbital polisher. That last step perhaps wasn't needed (was done after the photo), but it really made the lenses look as though they'd just popped out of the mold.



    It really works, because the new owner of the car posted photos of it on a BMW website a year and 17,000 miles later and it still looked great. I've seen those "kit" results look back-to-cloud after a matter of weeks or months.
    67Cuda likes this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PixMan View Post
    I've seen those "kit" results look back-to-cloud after a matter of weeks or months.
    I tried one of those kits, 3M, on my daughters car and it did become cloudy after a number of months. I'm going to try this approach, can't be any worse.

    Tom

  11. #11
    tdmidget is offline Titanium
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    That's the right side?
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  12. #12
    Greg White is offline Titanium
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    Not to hijack,but being a retired moldmaker/machinist, you guys made me chuckle.

    You all outah see how how long it took(20yrs ago) to polish the mold to make the lenses clear.
    Gw

  13. #13
    metlmunchr is offline Diamond
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    I think most of the kits are adding some level of solvent to their polishing compound to effect a chemical polish. A young kid at the local Advance store who's actually into cars rather than just a displaced burger flipper turned parts flipper told me straight up that none of the kits they sell are worth a damn for anything other than the short term, and that the only way to get any sort of lasting result is by using wet color sanding paper and buffing after sanding.

    The lenses on my 92 Chev pickup were yellow to the point where driving at night was a real problem. Worse than pixman's 800 grit pic. I wet sanded them with 2500 grit using an Aro 5" random orbital palm sander and then buffed them with some 3M compound made for final buffing on clear coat. That was about a year ago, and I'd say they're still at about 90% of the clarity they were at when I finished working on them.

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    wb2vsj is offline Hot Rolled
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    I did my in-laws Gran Marquis a few years ago. Sorta over did it with the buffer. I literally melted the lens - looked like a Edvard Munch painting. They (the lenses) came out nice and clear, but had "distortions" from me being a bit heavy handed with the buffer.

  15. #15
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    If they are fogging on the inside I've had good luck with shoving a few desiccant packets into the assembly, I use the sillica packets that come with new shoes and clothes sometimes. It's usually possible to get the bag under the reflector so you can't see it.

    Make sure the boot that covers the bulb is good, and make sure the housings aren't cracked anywhere. The sillica packet absorbs what moisture is in there, and the tight seal keeps the bag from getting overloaded.

  16. #16
    Bobw's Avatar
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    Took a road trip about a month ago and realized my headlights were YELLOW, I almost never drive at night so I never really noticed.

    Also found out that I had a slightly bad water pump that would spew out about a gallon every thousand or so miles. (that's were that stuff was going!!)

    Long story short, since I finally figured out that my windshield was covered in antifreeze, decided to see if my headlights were too. Soap
    doesn't get it off, and didn't make a bit of difference, but some rubbing alcohol and some 409, they came back to almost completely clear.

    Cleaning the windshield with alcohol made driving at night and in the rain a lot easier too.

    Probably not that common having baked on anti-freeze, but might be worth a try.

  17. #17
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    The trouble is,after you remove that tough outer layer,the new surface will not hold up well at all to further damage.

  18. #18
    jim rozen is offline Diamond
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    New mirror from toyota, 180 bucks. Same mirror from rock auto, 24 bucks.

    I doubt I'll buy dealer parts ever again.

  19. #19
    otter is offline Aluminum
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    I polished mine with some 3m paint polishing compound (because I had it on hand) and a random orbital buffer. Worked fine and took about 10 minutes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gwilson View Post
    The trouble is,after you remove that tough outer layer,the new surface will not hold up well at all to further damage.
    The tough outer layer? Whats the outer acrylic layer coated with to make it tougher than the inner acrylic layer? I'd like to know.
    Dave

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