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General E46 Forum
This is the place to get answers, opinions and everything you need related to your E46 (sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon) BMW!

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Old 05-15-2015, 12:37 AM   #1
kdoubt
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Meguiars headlight restore. Before & After

I replaced the engine filter today and figured I'd clean up under the hood. My dog tried to help hide the cloudy lenses in a shot I was going to share (and I guess will anyway)





So I used that as an excuse to go for a drive and grabbed a kit. It wasnt what I was after exactly so I figured I'd document it to see before and after. I went a little gung ho with the beers and became a photographer as well. This was $29 at Canadian Tire.

Box Contents





A good amount of shots I've ever posted usually come with comments about how the roundel and headlight lenses should be redone. I like instant gratification, and so I did the repair kit instead of new lenses. Heres the before finish up close.





First application is pretty scary. The bad goes to worse as far as clarity however you really have to spend some time on this part of the restoration. You're sanding out the stones and bugs you smashed apart at [insert speed here] for 10+ years. These lenses are most likely original to the car, and are definitely OEM as far as I can tell.



I didn't tape anything off like the instructions recommend. I didn't see the need as everything is done by hand at this point. Felt like I did this for an hour between them both.





Dried off the grit and grime from sanding with the cloth. Took some pics. This is after the 1000 grip sander only, right side only.




After the 3000 grit hand sanding, and first coat of the plastic x stuff they give you with the power drill & bit provided. Finally clearing up and nerves settling.



Second buff & coat.






Finished vs Unfinished. Also, I had no idea the housing for the projectors say Xeonon on them. I guess its good enough to read text you couldnt see if thats any value in a review.






I just liked this angle.




Finished both, lighting as well.







PS i'll trade anyone for the HID bulb in the passenger side for one truer to the drivers side. only 20 hours maximum on it.
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Old 05-15-2015, 05:51 AM   #2
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Looks a lot better. What bulbs are in the lows? It's always best to replace bulbs in pairs to keep the colors the same.
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Old 05-15-2015, 06:34 AM   #3
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The HID lights cannot easily replace the lens like the earlier halogen housings where you can buy replacement lens and easily replace them.

A few suggestions, either remove the entire headlight housing, not very hard, usually 3 screws, some bulb connections and I recall the lower trim piece below the headlight may need to be released.

This way you can take a cardboard box or milk crate and hold the lights while you sand and polish so the paint is not disturbed or put blue painters tape around the headlight to protect the paint.

Technically the plastic will have a clear coat paint finish with UV protectant originally applied, I am kind of of the mind not to use clear coat, just clean and wax the lens regularly. This way if the lens cloud again, you do not need to cut through the clear coat to clean up the lens again.

It is amazing how bad pitted, clouded and discolored headlight lens can make a car look so bad. Also the headlight output can be impacted by poor conditions of the lens.
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Old 05-15-2015, 07:44 AM   #4
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Old Milly Ice? c'mon ...
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Old 05-15-2015, 07:45 AM   #5
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I think it's time to take your snow tires off.

Lenses look great btw. I just use wet sand paper, 800, 1200, 1500, 2000, 3000. Then 3m perfect-it 2 rubbing compound on my power buffer. Much faster than using a drill and costs much les than those "kits".
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Old 05-15-2015, 09:15 AM   #6
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Very nice!! Yucky lens can make a car look terrible. Nice clear lens can make a car look
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Old 05-15-2015, 09:51 AM   #7
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Actually Jfoj the HID lens on mine came off very easily. There's a total of 8 or 10 tabs on it that snap it into place. I bought my car with the lens being crystal clear. Not sure if they ever have been replaced but I did take mine off when I installed angels. If they every do haze I would just buy new ones. I noticed on past cars no matter how much you clean or buff it doesn't look clean like it did on day 1 and its not a permanent fix.

But OP nice job on the cleaning.
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Old 05-15-2015, 10:24 AM   #8
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Actually Jfoj the HID lens on mine came off very easily. There's a total of 8 or 10 tabs on it that snap it into place. I bought my car with the lens being crystal clear. Not sure if they ever have been replaced but I did take mine off when I installed angels. If they every do haze I would just buy new ones. I noticed on past cars no matter how much you clean or buff it doesn't look clean like it did on day 1 and its not a permanent fix.
Might be a pre-Facelift thing? I know that most of the cars I dealt with have glue on lens or like my E39 had silicon sealed lens that could not be baked apart.

I have replaced pre-facelift halogen lens in the past without too much issue either getting the lens changing them.
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Old 05-15-2015, 10:32 AM   #9
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The OCD in me was quite bothered that you didnt tape anything off lol. I was a little worried for a sec, however the results turned out fantastic!

If you need new HID bulbs go check out www.vvme.com. They have HID kits for manufacturer pricing. Quality is quite good, but not the best in the world. They will last a fair while.
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Old 05-15-2015, 10:33 AM   #10
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Might be a pre-Facelift thing? I know that most of the cars I dealt with have glue on lens or like my E39 had silicon sealed lens that could not be baked apart.

I have replaced pre-facelift halogen lens in the past without too much issue either getting the lens changing them.
AFAIK only facelift coupe like mine is not replaceable..

coupe, sedan, wagon preface and facelift sedan has a user replaceable lens that can be bought online.
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Old 05-15-2015, 10:39 AM   #11
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^this. I have a face-lifted sedan with AL bi-xenons. It was easy. I actually prefer the snap on snap off design.
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Old 05-15-2015, 11:12 AM   #12
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Looks great, nice work. Just a heads up, you can replace your lenses cheaply and easily. I waited and waited to do this fearing that dust might get inside while the old lenses were off or condensation might result once the new lenses were on or a host of other things. Couldn't be farther from the truth, knocked it out in under an hour and looks soooo much better.
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Old 05-15-2015, 11:17 AM   #13
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I was worried about condensation too but if all tabs snap on your good to go. Its really easy, just unscrew your corner signal, pull out your headlight washer a bit if you have one, take off the bottom body trim, and it gives you access to the tabs without taking out the entire headlight housing off the car.
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Old 05-15-2015, 11:25 AM   #14
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the compounds/chemicals used won't harm the paint (could probably even polish with it, not that i recommend it) so there is no need to tape unless you are worried your hand will slip while sanding. It might make a mess and get on the windows but that's why I wash the car over again after any sort of machine polishing to any part. The most important thing to avoid is getting any compound or polish on unpainted black plastic...it'll come out but it can be a pain especially if it dries in the sun, so if any slings wipe it up quickly with instant detailer or the soap solution you are using.
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Old 05-15-2015, 12:10 PM   #15
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Looks a lot better. What bulbs are in the lows? It's always best to replace bulbs in pairs to keep the colors the same.
I was assured at Napa that it was the same bulb, but I understand they change over time. It bothers me, but not enough to toss out a perfectly good $170 bulb yaknow? Daily driver, and theres some other things I've got on the list before the bulb. Good advice though.

Edit: I may have overpaid... http://www.khoalty.com/bmw-e46-d2s-x...ment-bulb.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bimmer 03e46 View Post
Old Milly Ice? c'mon ...


Quote:
Originally Posted by MartyFnMcfly View Post
I think it's time to take your snow tires off.

Lenses look great btw. I just use wet sand paper, 800, 1200, 1500, 2000, 3000. Then 3m perfect-it 2 rubbing compound on my power buffer. Much faster than using a drill and costs much les than those "kits".
These are all things I don't currently own. All of the sanding was done by hand. Just the final buffing was done with the drill.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vader View Post
The OCD in me was quite bothered that you didnt tape anything off lol. I was a little worried for a sec, however the results turned out fantastic!

If you need new HID bulbs go check out www.vvme.com. They have HID kits for manufacturer pricing. Quality is quite good, but not the best in the world. They will last a fair while.
Always appreciate a good resource, thanks. Also, I usually am a little more OCD but again this was all done by hand so it was pretty well controlled. Didnt even have to tape off the corners.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mikeetastic View Post
AFAIK only facelift coupe like mine is not replaceable..

coupe, sedan, wagon preface and facelift sedan has a user replaceable lens that can be bought online.
Drop down menu shows a few different options. This car is an 04' sedan but shipping isnt free to Canada so took the budget option.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonLI25t View Post
the compounds/chemicals used won't harm the paint (could probably even polish with it, not that i recommend it) so there is no need to tape unless you are worried your hand will slip while sanding. It might make a mess and get on the windows but that's why I wash the car over again after any sort of machine polishing to any part. The most important thing to avoid is getting any compound or polish on unpainted black plastic...it'll come out but it can be a pain especially if it dries in the sun, so if any slings wipe it up quickly with instant detailer or the soap solution you are using.
Yea I wasnt too concerned about the little piece of plastic below the lense. Quick wipe now and again (since you're doing it anyway every few minutes).

Happy with cost, happy with results for what it is.
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Old 05-15-2015, 12:25 PM   #16
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I was assured at Napa that it was the same bulb, but I understand they change over time. It bothers me, but not enough to toss out a perfectly good $170 bulb yaknow? Daily driver, and theres some other things I've got on the list before the bulb. Good advice though.

Edit: I may have overpaid... http://www.khoalty.com/bmw-e46-d2s-x...ment-bulb.html
What brand was the bulb?

This is what genuine Sylvania and Philips bulbs go for

http://www.theretrofitsource.com/com...l#.VVYryvlVhBc

http://www.theretrofitsource.com/com...l#.VVYr1flVhBc


Don't even look at those Khoalty bulbs, they're cheap aftermarket junk
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Old 05-15-2015, 12:32 PM   #17
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I wouldn't trust my hand to be so steady with the power sander/drill...

Anyway, I did this on my '02 WRX using the 3M kit 3-4 years ago and they looked great too. Since there was no more UV coating I figured they would cloud again faster so I bought the Lamin-X clear cover kit. I highly recommend it!

Last edited by mmiller2002; 05-15-2015 at 01:01 PM.
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Old 05-15-2015, 12:42 PM   #18
kdoubt
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I believe it was a NAPA brand bulb. Similar to this: http://www.napaonline.com/Catalog/Ca...D2S_0354422543

I was going to do some night driving so was had to buy in a pinch.
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Old 05-15-2015, 12:44 PM   #19
Solidjake
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Damn, sucks but you had no choice.
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Old 05-15-2015, 12:52 PM   #20
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Old Milly Ice? c'mon ...
ya im with this guy ^

looks good, i should prob do this soon
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