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-   -   DIY Headlight Lens Restoration for Under 20$ (http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=908056)

jaredtizzle 03-07-2012 08:49 PM

DIY Headlight Lens Restoration for Under 20$
Apologize for the length:

Here is a cheap and easy DIY to get your headlights looking like new.



See those nasty pits? Let's get rid of those.

Here is what you will need:

Step 1:
(You don't HAVE to remove the lens however I find it comforting to not worry about sanding my paint off.)
Pop open your hood, and remove your headlight lens'.
If you've never done it before don't worry, its not hard.

Unscrew your corner lens by using a phillips bit in the oval hole labeled "N"

Pull off the rubber/plastic trim around the lens, there are little plastic clips that pull out easily.

Pull out the plastic panel below the lens.
This takes some force..you need to undo the little clips on the left and right, and pull it out with a bit of force.

The left side clips.

Once its out just let it chill there until you need it out of your way.

See those little black plastic clips holding the clear lens on? Make your way around the lens unhooking those.

Wala, lens is off.

Remove lens and set it aside while you remove the opposite side.


The left side corner lens is a PITA.
You can only pull it out this far before you need to remove this little clip..
Fit your hand in there and push down on the little black square towards the bottom of it until it unclips.

I didn't want dirt/dust to fly into my headlights so I covered them with some trash bags, it's ghetto but it works.


Now for step 2....

jaredtizzle 03-07-2012 09:32 PM

Step 2:


Here is what you should have, minus the Jameson haha.

Give you lenses a quick wash so that you can see exactly where they're pitted/scratched.

See all that crap?

Open your 3M kit. Here is what you have:

You will start with the gold, then goto the white/purple and finally the odd gray foam one. Lastly you will use the rubbing compound and the orange applicator to polish them off.


Attach the black drill bit to your drill

Secure a gold disk to it using the velcro side

Start DRY sanding, it's a bit scary because it looks like your lens is destroyed but I promise if you do it correctly then the results are amazing.

Notice that at this point you really start to notice the deep pits/scratches.


As the directions state, the more time you spend on any one step improves your final results. Don't be afraid to go over it a dozen times if that's what it takes.

Once your sanding disk looks like this, wipe it and your lens off so that it continues working correctly.

If you notice it's not working as well, replace your disk. I went through two gold disks for each headlight lens.

Ensure you get the side edge, you're better off getting more than necessary to ensure a good uniform finish.

Step 3:

Attach your white disk that has purple writing.

After one pass with the 800 grit this is what you have compared to the 300 grit.
Top = 800 grit. Bottem = 300.
Notice the change in clarity.

Once you've went over your lens a good few times you're ready for the 3000 grit gray disk.
(More times = better results, and don't forget to wipe the disk and your lens every now and then.

Step 4:
Now you will use your gray 3000 grit disk with some wet sanding. Get out your spray bottle!

Spray the gray disk until it's nice and wet.

Also spray your lens, make sure you keep everything WET.:thumbup:

You will get a white slurry, I like to wipe this off after every pass.

A couple passes with the 3000 grit compared to the 800 grit..

A few more..

Once you're done with your 3000 grit you're ready for the rubbing compound to polish them off.

Smear some rubbing compound on your orange foam applicator.

Apply a couple coats and wipe it off with a microfiber cloth.

3000 Grit compared to a finished lens..


Once you're done clean them both off real well and get ready to reassemble your headlights.

Sorry for the lack of pictures at the end, my camera died so I'll just explain this part.

Place your lenses back on by snapping them into place and locking the black clips over the COMPLETE holder part of the clear lens.

Re-attach your lower plastic trim piece.

Put your plastic/rubber trim back on, it snaps in easily.

Replace your corner lens and wala, you're finished.

I like to do this about once a year as it's easy and it keeps your headlight lens' looking like new. The 3M kit should last you a couple uses so you can use it again when they look beat up again.

Enjoy your gorgeous new lenses :)

JJR4884 03-10-2012 06:45 PM

bump for a nice DIY... gonna spend the $20 and pick this up just for the ease of using a drill with it, rather than going through the 600, 1200, 1500, and 2000 grit sand paper... hell, buying all that will cost $20 anyways at home depot lol

jaredtizzle 03-11-2012 02:34 AM

Yeah man this is the quickest and easiest way that I've found. They have the kit at any respectable auto parts store, I picked mine up at advanced auto for about 18$. (Also works on corner lens fyi)

Side note, I'll add the missing pictures when I get back home, I'm stuck in the middle of the ocean right now.

Solidjake 03-11-2012 12:25 PM

Very nice write up. Thanks

Bake 03-12-2012 07:19 PM

I have a kit if anyone wants it. $10 picked up.

jskin1510 04-24-2012 09:00 PM

I think my headlights lens may have an issue on the inside of the lens... anyone ever seen this happen? i bought a used set of depos and noticed this and it really bothers me, i may have to do somethin like this on the inside of the lens.

CirrusSR22 04-30-2012 04:59 AM


Originally Posted by jskin1510 (Post 14327195)
I think my headlights lens may have an issue on the inside of the lens... anyone ever seen this happen? i bought a used set of depos and noticed this and it really bothers me, i may have to do somethin like this on the inside of the lens.

I had that issue. I found just using some plastic polish took care of most/all of it. If you use the 3M kit I'd go right to the polishing compound and foam pad - skip the sanding on the inside.

illestminimike 04-30-2012 12:23 PM

Need to do this soon.

TitanSilverE46 04-30-2012 07:14 PM

Call me lazy, but I bought a pair of new Bosch lenses from Pelican $33.50 each late last year.

For pre-facelift sedan, Part #s are:- 63 12 8 380 189 and 63 12 8 380 190

If I have to do that every 10 years I don't care. :thumbup:

DanielJames 05-03-2012 05:15 AM

No pics of the finished product installed buddy? Great DIY

LeMansteve 05-03-2012 08:22 AM

Curious to see the long-term appearance after using the 3M kit. The lenses look great after using the kit, but I've heard they will fade again even quicker than before. Something about a coating that is taken away when you sand the lens.

trizzuth 05-04-2012 09:47 AM

Very interesting. I was actually stoked to read this with the awesome pics and almost ready to buy. Then I read this:


Here is the product mentioned, and it's the same price as the 3M kit:

thoughts? opinions? This stuff, if it works, seems like it would last a hell of a lot longer than the 3-6-9 months the 3M kit lasts for, and I see their point about removing the UV layer...

interesting discussion about this product here:

Honestly, I've put some Klasse onto the headlights, and that clears up a lot of the oxidation, and lasts about a few weeks before she goes cloudy again, but it isn't $120 an ounce!!!! hell you can get a 1000ml bottle for around $39!!!!! I bet it's partially the same thing as the pittman ACR

trizzuth 05-04-2012 09:58 AM

^^ In regards to the above stuff, appears to be scam, so ignore!! best bet is to get new covers from KHOALTY for about $72 which should last a good solid 5 years or so..

ccagle 05-06-2012 12:24 AM

3 Attachment(s)
Turtle wax lens restorer = $10... Used it today. Great results...

imdaniel 06-24-2016 11:00 PM

Thanks man.
Just Googled this tonight, picked up 3M kit ready to do this tonight. Thanks for the write up!

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