Headlight Lens Cleaning

l008com

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Feb 19, 2016
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Massachusetts
I knew headlight clearing products are all the rage these days, but do they actually work?

One of my headlights is as crisp and clear as the day it was made. The other is awful dark yellow and looks like garbage. But when I touch the lens, it feels pretty smooth, it feels like the yellowing is on the inside not the outside.

Is this normal for yellowed lenses, is a clearing product still likely to work? Or do I have some weird form of yellowing where I'm basically screwed?

Also is there a specific product you guys would recommend?
 

TJBaker57

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I used the 3M kit years ago. I removed the headlamps to make it easier. I also took a lot of time to do the process. Used a cordless drill at a controlled low speed. The initial reaults were nice but I failed to do the followup treatment(s) and within a few years they were right back where thay had been.

20150213_145157.jpg
 

Mooseman

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It might still clear up. I had some like that on the Caprice and it sanded out. There was some inside damage but the rest came out so good that you hardly notice it.

Don't get the 3M kit. It says to sand dry and it left swirl marks on it and they give only a pitiful amount of the buffing compound. I've had good results with the Maguires kit. Wet sand by hand and buff using a drill attachment and the polishing compound.

One thing I did differently to protect them is put a 3M UV clear film on them. Actually made them pop since they're for putting on paint like the front of the hood. Was a challenge with some of the curves on these headlights. Might be the same challenge with the LT lights. Might have to do it in two pieces with a separating line on the side marker side.
 

Mike534x

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I used the Maguire's Blue box headlight restore kit, got about a year out of it before they got cloudy again. I think substituting the UV protectant they provide, with something higher quality would give longer last results.
 

jerflash

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Instead of cleaning the ones on my LT I got some awesome aftermarket lights for under 250. worth it IMO
 

Stuntmanmike77

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May 6, 2018
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Sanford, ME
I too just received my new headlights. Just wondering if brand new headlights require a coating or treatment or can I just put them on right out of the box and not worry about it?
 

Blckshdw

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I too just received my new headlights. Just wondering if brand new headlights require a coating or treatment or can I just put them on right out of the box and not worry about it?

They come with a coating already on them. Problem is, over time, it can peel off and fade. That happened to the aftermarket headlights I got about 5 years ago for the retrofit in my sig pic. After about 3-4 years, up close I could see a fine line from where the coating peeled off. Now they are a bit yellow and hazy. :frown:

If/when you decide to use one of those sanding/polishing kits, it's a good idea to add a UV coating afterwards to help keep them looking nicer longer.
 

Mooseman

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Supposedly 3M clear paint film is really good. I did that on the Caprice last year. Was difficult to put on with its particular curves but it looked amazing after. Haven't had it long enough to say how long it will last but imagine it could be years.
 

Stuntmanmike77

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Thank you both. Will install them tomorrow and enjoy them by seeing more of what's in front of me! I think I will give the film a try. Had descent reviews.
 

corky

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Portland OR
I tried different lense cleaners that all worked temporarily and the lenses would just yellow back up after a short time so for under a 100.00 dollars you can get nice replacement lights with new bulbs that look great, Wich is what I did.
 

TollKeeper

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I did the cheap Turtle Wax kit recommended in this video, and it worked awesome!

 
Last edited:

Mooseman

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The problem is preventing re-oxidation of the lenses after polishing. Some use paint after polishing. I have used 3M paint protective film, which is UV protective. I did that to my Caprice and has held up great after two years however it spends only half the year in daylight, the other half it's in storage.
 
Joined
Nov 13, 2021
Posts
9
Location
USA
I knew headlight clearing products are all the rage these days, but do they actually work?

One of my headlights is as crisp and clear as the day it was made. The other is awful dark yellow and looks like garbage. But when I touch the lens, it feels pretty smooth, it feels like the yellowing is on the inside not the outside.

Is this normal for yellowed lenses, is a clearing product still likely to work? Or do I have some weird form of yellowing where I'm basically screwed?

Also is there a specific product you guys would recommend?
Tried taking a bit of toothpaste to a small (corner spot) ? Would give a hint as to inside/outside, get some cheap crest toothpaste or whatever. Just use a paper towel folded up thick for a quick check. If that "cleans" a spot . I agree with the maguire deal, lasts maybe 1-2 year's, depending on your environment (sand/dust/country). Gotta put a lil elbow in the toothpaste deal then rinse with water
 
Joined
Nov 13, 2021
Posts
9
Location
USA
Tried taking a bit of toothpaste to a small (corner spot) ? Would give a hint as to inside/outside, get some cheap crest toothpaste or whatever. Just use a paper towel folded up thick for a quick check. If that "cleans" a spot . I agree with the maguire deal, lasts maybe 1-2 year's, depending on your environment (sand/dust/country). Gotta put a lil elbow in the toothpaste deal then rinse with water
I was just suggesting a cheap "check" idea BTW, didn't mean to undercut other people's exp. Lil bullfrog tape, lil elbow grease, ect ✌
 

ts684

Registered Member
Joined
May 29, 2013
Posts
65
For the amount of time and effort, not including the random orbit sander, I would have been better off getting a replacement. After several hours the 3M kit didn't do anything noticeable. It seems there is a coating of some kind over the lens and you have to sand thru that first. Started out with 240 dry on the orbital.
 

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