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DIY: Do It Yourself
Post here to share or improve your wrench turning skills! All BMW E46 DIY tips, tales, and projects discussed inside. Learn to work on your car and know the right BMW parts you will need!

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Old 02-11-2016, 04:34 PM   #1
reddcliffe
Registered User
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Location: Bay Area, CALIFORNIA
Posts: 13
My Ride: 2002 E46 330i
DIY Headlight Restoration @ Home

Headlight Restoration:

In this DIY, we will be to removing the oxidation and faded plastic from the headlight and restoring the headlight to a crisp and clear gloss for better visibly at night and overall presence of your automobile.

Here, I listed some products that you would be able to find at your local department store that you could produce the same results as a professional detailing shop could produce. But of course professional grade products are unmatched, so feel free to use the compounds and products that you think might suit best for the job.

Materials Needed:

Spay Bottle filled with Water

2500 grit Sandpaper

3500 grit Sandpaper

Painterís Tape

Microfiber Cloths

Paper Towels

All Purpose Cleaner
http://www.amazon.com/Simple-all-pur...s=simple+green

Applicator Pads http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BUFWL4C/...ing=UTF8&psc=1
Hex-Logic (orange medium cutting)
Hex-Logic (white polishing)
Hex-Logic (black finishing)

Polishing Compound
Meguiar's Ultimate Compound
http://www.amazon.com/Meguiars-G1721...imate+compound

Wolfgang Uber Compound
http://www.amazon.com/Wolfgang-Uber-...+Uber+Compound

Chemical Guys V34 Optical Grade Hybrid Compound
http://www.amazon.com/Chemical-Guys-...mical+guys+v34

Cutting Polish Compound:

Meguiar's Mirror Glaze Ultra-Cut Compound
http://www.amazon.com/Meguiars-Mirro...a-Cut+Compound

Chemical Guys V36 Optical Grade Cutting Polish
http://www.amazon.com/Chemical-Guys-...mical+guys+v36

Finishing Polish Compound:

Meguiar's Mirror Glaze Ultra Finishing Polish
http://www.amazon.com/Meguiars-Mirro...nishing+polish

Wolfgang Finishing Glaze
http://www.amazon.com/8oz-Wolfgang-F...gang+finishing

Chemical Guys V38 Optical Grade Final Polish
http://www.amazon.com/Chemical-Guys-...mical+guys+v38

Sealant:

Meguiar's Headlight Protectant
http://www.amazon.com/Meguiars-G1711...78F5VP8GF7BK6Q

Chemical Guys JetSeal Anti-Corrosion Sealant and Paint Protectant http://www.amazon.com/Chemical-Guys-...ywords=jetseal

Microfiber Sponge Applicator http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BTGSGFK/...ing=UTF8&psc=1

The Process:

Step 1:

Spay some of that all purpose cleaner on the surface of the headlight. I like to use Simple Green, which can be found in almost all local stores. This is to clean the surface of the headlight to remove any type of material, such as dirt and debris that will interfere with the sanding process. Then wipe it dry with some towels.

At this point your headlight will still be cloudy and hazy, but donít worry.

Step 2:

Take your painterís take and tape up the surrounding area of your headlight to protect your paint. This will give your paint protection from the sanding that we will soon be doing.

Step 3:

Start off by taking your 2500 grit sand paper and spay bottle filled with water. First wet the 2500 grit sandpaper by giving it a few squirts. Using water as a lubricant, generously spray the area that you are sanding at the same time as you are doing the sanding in a one direction motion. Remember to keep the surface lubricated with the water in the spay bottle as you are sanding. You donít want to apply too much pressure while sanding, but just enough to brush off the outer layer of debris. Using a sanding block as an applicator to the 2500 grit sandpaper is not required but would be helpful in evening the pressure applied.

Once finished sanding the whole headlight with the 2500 grit sandpaper, wipe it dry with a microfiber towel.

Step 4:

Now, we want to make our headlight surface even smoother. To do this we will now use the 3500 grit sandpaper. Same process as before with the 2500 grit sandpaper, using water as a lubricant, generously spray the area that you are sanding at the same time as you are doing the sanding in a one direction motion. Remember to keep the surface lubricated with the water in the spay bottle as you are sanding.

Once finished sanding the whole headlight with the 3500 grit sandpaper, wipe it dry with a microfiber towel.

Now we are ready for the polishing and sealing.

Step 5:

From here on, we will either be polishing by machine or by hand. For those working from home and donít really have a need for a DA polisher, both methods work towards the same result. Though using a DA polisher isnít required, it does come in handy in the process. If you are not using a DA polisher and doing a head light restoration by hand, itís just going to take a little more time and elbow grease. When working on headlights, I like to do it by hand, I just feel in the tight space, I have more control to the areas that I am working on.

I find that Hex-Logic Applicator Pads or Hex-Logic Hand Applicator Pads work great for me.

Start off by taking some polishing compound (Wolfgang Uber Compound OR Meguiar's Ultimate Compound OR Chemical Guys V34) and applying it to the orange medium cutting pad. Just a few jellybean sized drops of polishing compound is sufficient.

Lightly spread the polishing compound by touching the headlight surface gently and moving the orange applicator pad back and forth. Then, in a small circular motion, apply more pressure and begin polishing. I like to do a 4 or 5 passes of the whole headlight using the polishing compound to make sure I get an even finish.

Once finished with this step, wipe the headlight with a microfiber tower and inspect the surface. As you can see, your headlights will receive a dramatic improving in clarity, but weíre not done yet.

Step 6:

Many of you might find this step to be extra and unnecessary. I like to work in a structural and methodical manner and I like to add in this extra layer of polish. Here we will be using either (Meguiar's Mirror Glaze Ultra-Cut Compound OR Chemical Guys V36 Optical Grade Cutting Polish) and applying it to the white polishing pad. Just a few jellybean sized drops of polishing compound is sufficient. Products in ďStep 5Ē (Meguiar's Ultimate Compound or Wolfgang Uber Compound) work well as a cutter as well. But here in this step, we will be using the white polishing pad as an applicator.

Again, lightly spread the cutting polish compound by touching the headlight surface gently and moving the orange applicator pad back and forth. Then, in a small circular motion, apply more pressure and begin polishing. I like to do a 4 or 5 passes of the whole headlight using the cutting polish compound to make sure I get an even finish.

Once finished with this step, wipe the headlight with a microfiber tower and inspect the surface.

Step 7:

In this final step of polishing, we will be using a finishing polish compound on the black finishing applicator pad. Here, the compound that we could use are (Meguiar's Mirror Glaze Ultra Finishing Polish OR Wolfgang Finishing Glaze OR Chemical Guys V38 Optical Grade Final Polish).

Again, just a few jellybean sized drops of polishing compound is sufficient. Lightly spread the finishing polish compound by touching the headlight surface gently and moving the orange applicator pad back and forth. Then, in a small circular motion, apply more pressure and begin polishing. I like to do a 4 or 5 passes of the whole headlight using the finishing polish compound to make sure I get an even finish.

Once finished with this step, wipe the headlight with a microfiber tower and inspect the surface. Here the headlight should look amazing brand new. Now we can go ahead and apply a protective layer to your headlights.

Step 8:

In applying a protective later will prevent and discoloration, fading, and deteriorating to your headlight, which will happen when exposed to the sun.

In this step, we will apply a few drops of sealant (Meguiar's Headlight Protectant
OR Chemical Guys JetSeal Anti-Corrosion Sealant and Paint Protectant) onto your microfiber sponge applicator and spread a thin layer onto your headlight evenly.

Wait 15-20 minutes for the sealant to dry.

Now we can wipe down the headlight with a microfiber tower of any excess product and weíre done. Sealant might need to be reapplied every few months or so, depending on your product.

Keeping your headlights in crystal clear condition is extremely important, not only in preserving the value of your car and making it look good, but for driving and road safety. Crystal clear headlights equals better visibility on the road, especially in low light conditions.

Enjoy.

I hope to be a valuable resource to this forum, as we can learn and grow from each other to be better detailers. I am new and I am constantly learning more and more about automotive detailing everyday. Any feedback is welcome.
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