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Headlight Restoration... THE RIGHT WAY!!!!! Pics!

This is a discussion on Headlight Restoration... THE RIGHT WAY!!!!! Pics! within the Camaro / SS forums, part of the Vehicle Specific category; Hi Everyone! I am new to the forum so I figured I would contribute a little something. I recently bought ...

  1. #1
    Member rappin_ernie's Avatar
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    2000 Camaro z28

    Headlight Restoration... THE RIGHT WAY!!!!! Pics!

    Hi Everyone!

    I am new to the forum so I figured I would contribute a little something.

    I recently bought a 2000 Camaro z28, and after I waxed it, I couldn't help but notice how dull and yellow the headlights were. I tried the toothpaste technique, and a turtle wax restoration kit. After no luck, I decided to cut the crap and do it right. Here's how it's done!

    First off, here is what you're going to need to pull this off like I did...

    1. Window Cleaner
    2. Rubbing Compound
    3. Polishing Compound
    4. Plastic Polish (PlastX)
    5. Metal file
    6. 10mm wrench, or socket
    7. Painters tape
    8. Wet/Dry Sand Paper (Grits 220/500/1000)
    9. Bucket
    10. Any kind of buffer with buffing bonnet
    11. Rag
    12. Hacksaw Blade





    Here are my headlights before. Keep in mind this is after I used the turtle wax kit, and toothpaste techniques, so they're not too bad.



    Last edited by rappin_ernie; 06-19-2010 at 05:20 PM.

  2. #2
    Member rappin_ernie's Avatar
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    Step 1: Open your hood and unplug the wires attached to your headlights.




    2nd Plug



  3. #3
    Member rappin_ernie's Avatar
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    Step 2: Unbolt and remove your headlight. First grip the headlight and slide it towards the center of the car. It may be tough, but it will break loose and slide over.

    This is the bolt to remove.

    These are the hooks you need to slide inward.

    Next push the inner part of the headlight through, pull from the inner part, and slide out the back part of the light. Be gentle with this step so you don't scratch your paint!

  4. #4
    Member rappin_ernie's Avatar
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    Step 3: Mount your headlight in a vise of some sort if available; this will make the whole process much easier. Otherwise you're going to have to hold the light against a bench.




  5. #5
    Member rappin_ernie's Avatar
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    Step 4: Remove Nipples. This doesn't need to be done, but it will make the other steps easier, and it makes your headlights look much more sleek.

    Grip your hacksaw blade at each end, and gently work it back and forth until you remove all the nipples. Be carefull not to scratch up other areas of the lens with your blade. If you do, don't worry about it, you will get them out in the next steps. You may want to put you painters tape on the rubber, or on any areas you want to protect from the blade.

    After I sawed the first nipple off.

    Use your file to smooth out what is left of the nipples. Make sure you make them nice and flush, this way you will never notice they were ever there. Don't worry about scuffing up the plastic around the nipple, it will all be smoothed out in the next steps.

    First nipple filed down.

    Second nipple filed down.

    Third nipple filled down.

    All nipples removed

  6. #6
    Member rappin_ernie's Avatar
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    Step 5: Sand down your headlight. Fill your bucket with water and cut pieces of 220 grit, 500 grit, and 1000 grit to put in the water. Write on the back of the paper what grit they are so you don't mix them up. Leave them soak for about ten minutes.

    Start with your 220 grit and rub in a left-to-right motion. Spend the most time with 220, and focus on the areas where you removed the nipples, and where you have heavy oxidation and yellowing. This step is going to remove all of the damage and cloudiness.



    After 220 grit sanding. Clean your headlight with window cleaner.

    After 500 grit sanding. Clean your headlight with window cleaner.

    After 1000 grit sanding. Clean your headlight with window cleaner.

  7. #7
    Member rappin_ernie's Avatar
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    Step 6: Clear up your headlights by removing fine scratches. Use your rubbing compound, polishing compound, and finally polishing compound to really clear up your lens and make it shinny and clear.

    First use your rubbing compound. Cover the whole lens with it, and then rub it around with your buffer OFF. After you have rubbed the compound in, then turn your buffer on. You're going to do three coats of rubbing compound. Thee first coat, use your buffer with low RPMs, second with medium RPMs, and the final with the highest RPMs. Remember that the more time you spend on these final steps, the better your headlight will come out. Remember to clean your headlight with window cleaner in between each step.

    Next use your polishing compound. Do just as you did with the rubbing compound, only this time, do two coat, and both coat you are going to use maximum RPMs.

    Finally, you are going to use your plastic polish to finish off the job. Make sure your light is cool. Rub in the plastic polish just as you did with the rubbing, and polishing compound. Do one coat of plastic polish with maximum RPMs. Your lens will show up super clear, and then immediately get a frost on it, this wipes right off with window cleaner.

    After all steps.


    Your headlights are all shinny and clear now. Use window cleaner to give them a final wipe down and clean the rubber. You may want to put a protective coat on them so they don't oxidize and yellow any time soon. The clear coat I used came with turtle wax kit I bought. I'm sure you can find another clear coat at your local automotive store.

  8. #8
    Member rappin_ernie's Avatar
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    Step 7: Install your head lights. You are going to put your headlights back in, just the way you took them out, only in reverse.

    First, slide the outside corner of the light in, then push the inside end in. Once again, be sure to be gentle, and work in the light, don't force anything.

    Next, line up the hooks in the back of the light, and then slide them into place, sliding them outward, towards your fender.

    Replace the 10mm bolt on the back of the light. Don't over tighten it, just snug it up.


    You should park your car on a level surface in front of a wall and turn your lights on to make sure they are even. If they are not, loosen this bolt.


    Once that is removed, you can adjust your light up or down since the bolt whole is elongated. Use something to compare your light heights on the wall, and when they are even snug up your bolt and you're all done! Clear headlights!





    I really hope this helps! Post and let me know how it works, or if you have any suggestions to make it better or easier!

    Mike

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    Member c5z28's Avatar
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    First off that is a really nice write up!

    Secondly what is frost? Clearcoat?
    I have restored my headlights before using a 500-2000 grit then using the plastic x, but your came out really clean. It has nearly been a year so I will be doing this again soon.

    With the lights as clean as they are, they look way better than any whistler mod.

  10. #10
    Your dealership guy konigandy6's Avatar
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    Very nice write up!! Thank you!

  11. #11
    Member rappin_ernie's Avatar
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    Thanks for the positive feedback! The frost I was talking about is just what shows up right after you buff out the plastx. It wipes right off with window cleaner.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Z28boy2000's Avatar
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    wow, thank you for this one!


    this is definitely on the top of my to do list

  13. #13
    Senior Member 1MileCrash's Avatar
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    nice write up and very nice results. only thing i might mention is that it's not the best idea to remove the "nipples" as they are how the headlights are adjusted. not knockin on ya just pointing out what they are used for reference for others.

  14. #14
    Member rappin_ernie's Avatar
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    oh wow, I thought they were just from the mold they are made with. How do you use them to adjust the lights?

  15. #15
    98z28 hiramsuito's Avatar
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    excellent write up!!!
    I wonder what it would do to my aftermarket headlights......

  16. #16
    Junior Member MICopper11's Avatar
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    Great writeup!! That is a beautiful car too I might add.

  17. #17
    Senior Member 1MileCrash's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rappin_ernie View Post
    oh wow, I thought they were just from the mold they are made with. How do you use them to adjust the lights?
    unfortunately i can't find the tools any longer...more than likely they no longer use these older style ones as i see all the alignment tools i can find are ones which have a stand. at any rate...

    the older tools had a couple of heavy duty suction cups on them to help them stick to the headlights. next to each of the nipples on the headlight there is a number. you would dial in that number on the tool on each of 3 bars. those bars would go over the top of the nipple and you would stick the suction cups to the headlights at that point. the tools itself then had a couple of bubble levels on it with which you determined your headlights height. you would adjust the pitch of the headlight up or down depending on where the bubble level was at. then you would center the headlight with another set of levelers.

    once you had the pitch and yaw of the headlights set you would take a look at a manual which dictated by state how the headlights were to be legally aimed. for wisconsin for instance i had to adjust my headlights down two and right two which meant that i had to adjust my headlights from center down two clicks and right two clicks which would prevent you from blinding oncoming traffic.

    like i say i'm not even sure if these setups are still around...i'm sure that some places still use them but no doubt they've come out with other equipment. most headlights don't have the nipples on them any longer they just have bubble levelers attached to the headlight assembly so you can do the adjustment yourself. the last time i used the tools was back in high school...2001 i think it was.

  18. #18
    LSX whore allbaugh_04's Avatar
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    Definitely a good writeup. I did something similar except without the plasticx on my tail lights after using VHT.

  19. #19
    BANGIN GEARS>STAB N STEER BLK2KSS's Avatar
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    nice write up man! they look soooooo much better without the damn nipples on em

  20. #20
    Member pewterz55's Avatar
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    wow! wish i wouldve seen this before i tried the shit turtle wax kit. thanks man

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