How to cut open your headlights and create clear corner lenses

Blckshdw

Original poster
Moderator
Nov 20, 2011
10,706
Tampa Bay Area, FL
Summary: How to cut open your headlights to paint the plastic inserts and create clear corner turn signal lenses.

Difficulty: High
Estimated Time: Weekend Job
Part Numbers: Part Varies
Cost: Varies

Step 1: Cutting open the headlight housings

If you do not want to attempt the baking method, or if that method doesn't work out for you, the alternative is to use a cut off wheel to remove the outter edge between the base and lens.

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Here's what NOT to do

Do NOT cut vertically along the back edge of the lip.

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While you can get the majority of the seal pulled off, and gain access to the thick layer of adhesive sealant below...

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**looking from the front of the light towards the back**

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... there is a 2nd layer of adhesive sealant below the lip of the clear lens, bonding it to the bottom side of the channel for the base, which forms a sandwich.

What you need to do, is cut about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way down the backside of that channel. This will allow you to wedge a screwdriver/carpenter's knife, or some other flat tool between the bottom of the clear lens and the base to cut through the bottom layer of adhesive sealant.

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Work your way around the perimeter, and then move to the inside section (for LS and SS lights). There are several small tabs on the plastic insert that are glued to the base. 2 on top, bottom, center section and inside, with 1 on the outside. You should be able to get a screwdriver under them and pop them free.

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Once you get that free, take a moment to appreciate your work.

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Then it's time to go back and try to clean out as much of the old adhesive as you can. If you have safety gloves, it would be in your best interest to wear them, otherwise you'll likely end up with some battle scars as you try to cut/whittle away at the old sealant.




Optional Step: Beefing up the stock headlight wiring

With the spare headlights I picked up, the 9006 low beam connectors were removed. I picked up a pair of 9006 HID harnesses (18 gauge wire, compared to the 22 gauge stock wiring) There's a small white plate retaining the headlight assembly connector pins. It has 2 small tabs, one on each side, that keep it locked in. Using a pick tool, they can be removed fairly easily.

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Looking at the pins, the only information on them is the manufacturer Amp, which is a subsidiary of Tyco Electronics. I tried to find a listing for the pins, the best I came up with was this unconfirmed, out of stock, listing for part number 925891-1

925891-1 TE Connectivity / AMP TE Connectivity

Without being able to locate any pins, I decided to use a cutoff wheel and cut down the center of the crimp, to be able to remove the stock wiring, and then soldered the heavier gauge wiring in its place (after extending them a few inches to make reaching easier)

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Blckshdw

Original poster
Moderator
Nov 20, 2011
10,706
Tampa Bay Area, FL
Step 2: Creating the clear corner turn signal lenses

You'll need some clear fluorescent light ceiling lens material. I purchased a 2'x2' piece from Home Depot for about $5

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Cut out some pieces about 4" x 12", this puts you at 6 pairs should you mess some up and need to try again.

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Using some clamps, attach one to the skinny end, and 2 about 2/3 of the way up.

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And then 2 more clamps, about halfway between those.

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Using a heat gun on the low setting (740 degrees) with sweeping passes, warm up the plastic on the main area of the lens as well as the overhanging areas. Be careful not to heat one area too closely or for too much time, or the thinner areas will melt completely, resulting in small holes all the way through and bubbles forming.

Using the side of the shaft of a screwdriver, you can push down on the overhanging areas to help shape the edges of the lens. If you have safety gloves, you can grasp the sides and pull them down to get a more custom shape. Once you have the bottom section shaped the way you want it, adjust your clamps to give some shape to the top end.

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The lens I bought was fairly flexible off the shelf, but after heating and cooling, it lost a bit of it's flexibility and became quite brittle. After causing the first set to develop small cracks from trying to cut out the lens to the exact shape that I wanted, for the next set, I took a different approach.

I left a margin around the edges, and made my cuts with a Dremel.

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Then I remounted the amber lenses in their holders, clamped the clear lens over the top, and marked the border of the lens holders' base.

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From here, I switched the bit on my Dremel to a sanding drum, and ground down the edges on the clear lenses to the drawn lines. A quick test fit to renew my motivation...

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I used some clear silicone to keep the clear lenses in their holders, and some Scotch tape to hold them in place while the silicone cured.

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Spray a few coats of paint on the plastic inserts, and set those aside to dry.

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Step 3: Resealing the headlights

Using some RTV silicone, I ran a bead around the rim of the base, then added the painted plastic insert, and main lens to reform the inner seal. Turned the lights over and put them face down on a towel (to protect the surface) and then applied another bead around the edge where the clear lens meets the base. Using a paint stir stick, I smoothed down the bead and cleaned it up all the way around.

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I let that dry for a couple of hours (took a break) then came back, flipped them back over and applied silicone to the cuts in the crossbar section to seal that up. Let everything cure for 24 hours, then time to install and enjoy.

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fadyasha

Member
Dec 21, 2011
1,134
Blckshdw said:
Summary: How to cut open your headlights to paint the plastic inserts and create clear corner turn signal lenses.

Difficulty: High
Estimated Time: Weekend Job
Part Numbers: Part Varies
Cost: Varies

Sweeeeeeeet!! My old pair of headlights had clear corners but out of my stupidity sold them! I could of used them on my projectors! Thanks for the write up bro! excellent!
 

stunter85

Member
Apr 22, 2012
42
I decided to take on this task last nite....omg what a pain in the a*s!! talk about alot of work to get the headlights apart!! but well worth it!! i got the inserts painted today and i cant wait to get these things back together!! pain in the butt and well worth the time!!:celebrate:
 

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