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

This is a discussion on Headlight Restoration... THE RIGHT WAY!!!!! Pics! within the Appearance Section forums, part of the General Help 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 05:21 PM.

  2. #2
    Member rappin_ernie's Avatar
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    2000 Camaro z28

    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.




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    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

  9. #9
    Auto Painter RyanJM's Avatar
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    Nice job. I used to do alot of headlights with my dewalt buffer till I found a cool attachment you can by at some auto paint stores. It's a 3" backing pad you attach to a drill and you can use the 3m 3" compounding and swirl remover pads. Also nice it you wanna polish taillights and hard to get area's around bumpers and spoilers. Find it's alot easier than my big dewalt.
    Also your lights weren't that bad I have seen some worse another trick is wetsanding them with 400 to 600 grit and then just get a rattle can of clearcoat spray and let dry before reinstall. Most I just do right on the car. Next time I do a Camaro I'll take some pics. Usually I don't use rattle cans I use a gun with blk added to the clear to smoke them out.
    1998 Trans Am 85k miles.
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  10. #10
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    You did a great job! They look just like new

  11. #11
    Member rappin_ernie's Avatar
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    Thanks for the positive feedback!

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    NY Representative basballny2's Avatar
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    welcome to the site, nice write-up!

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    Good write up, added to the Museum

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    Senior Member 2001camaroSS's Avatar
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    great write up and awesome results!
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    515 HP TrickFlow Package BADASS2000SS's Avatar
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    Nice Job!
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