How to paint/recondition headlights/tail lights Lots of pics
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  • 1 Post By Caddy Fabricator
2004-2007 Cadillac CTS-V Appearance Mods Discussion, How to paint/recondition headlights/tail lights Lots of pics in Cadillac CTS-V Series Forum - 2004 - 2007; This is divided into 3 post given the pic restraints.... Being that I have my own shop I find a ...
  1. #1
    Caddy Fabricator is offline Cadillac Owners Member
    Automobile(s): 2006 CTS-V 2007 Escalade 2009 XLR-V
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    How to paint/recondition headlights/tail lights Lots of pics

    This is divided into 3 post given the pic restraints....

    Being that I have my own shop I find a lot of folks don't paint their lights correctly. When your dealing with expensive parts having the knowledge makes things a lot easier and less stressfull. I've done many lights including my CTS-V and now I decided to do the lights on my XLR-V. I'll give the step by step instructions the best I can, if you have questions ask.

    The first thing you do is remove the lights from the car, it is not recommended to sand and paint lights on car. You will run the risk of getting overspray on things that you dont want to paint and you get a much better job being able to wrap the paint around the edges to prevent peeling in the future. ***Always perform R&I's before bodywork and paint.

    You want to remove any wax/silicone that has build up on the lights thru the years, even though you dont see it, trust me its there. Its important to do this prior to any prep, you dont want to sand the silicone into the part or plan to do it later. This is very important to do to promote adhesion and most important to eliminate any fish eyes during the painting process. You can go to any parts store and pick up "Grease and Wax Remover" its cheap and takes just a few moments to do. ***Do not use a "hot" solvent....such as Laquer thinner, fingernail polish remove....it will melt your light.

    I prepped my lights by wet sanding. I start at 1000 grit then increase in increments. 1000 grit, 1500 grit, 2000 grit, 3000 grit and stop at 4000 grit. This a bit over kill but makes for a nice job. Clear coat can hide 600 grit scratches...the reason I went up in grits is to eliminate the scratches, fading that were already present....once again I want a nice job. The headlights will look very dull so dont freak out you won't hurt the light. This is what it should look like....



    Once that is completed it is now time to mask up the lights. Tape is very important, I want to paint the outer rim on all lights black to match the car so I want a nice crisp, straight line. Use a "blue fine line" tape, its flexible and goes around corners easy, it does not leave adhesive residue to clean off during the painting process. I prefer 1/4" wide blue fine line cause its easy to work with. Here's some pics...





    Once you have blue lined your parts, I like to go around the blue fine line with 3/4" standard masking tape. You don't have to do this but since I'm spraying black paint I want to seal in the part of the light GOOD so I dont overspray the light where I dont want paint...pic again



    On the headlights there is a black rubber gasket That I'm going to tape up....I bring this up cause I'm a firm believer in R&I's as discussed in the beginning. I'm choosing to mask the gasket up because its glued to the light from the factory and trust me....they never go back on and fit the same. Its easy to mask, just overlap the tape on the light about a 1/8 of a inch and use your fingernail to tuck the overlap between the gasket and the light. Heres a pic





    Now that you have your lights blue lined and sealed with standard tape its time to put the paper on. You can use any paper as long as it is sealed. I prefer blue poly coated paper, it is the best to use in my opinion and I've tried alot over the years. The lights are ofcourse round with corners and curves so when you apply the paper it will fold on those edges cause the paper wants to be flat. Make sure to tape down the folds in the paper as you see in the pics below. If these folds are not taped they will trap small particles of dust and debris that when spraying with a paint gun the air from the gun will blow it all over you nice paint. **Dont forget to mask the back side of your lights...once again you want a professional job and you dont want to overspray the back of the light...even though you wont see it when its mounted on the car, its not the right way to do it.






    Now I head to the shop to paint. When setting up your parts either in a booth or a garage make sure your enviroment is free of silicone, dirt or anything you dont want in your paint or will hurt your paint. Make sure you set up your parts so you dont have to touch them during the painting process but yet you can paint around the edges...I use paint mixing sticks to prop up the parts. ***helpful tip---take some water and wet down the floor and area around your parts...it helps keep the dust and dirt down.




    I prefer PPG paint but there is alot of good products out there including stuff in rattle cans. I've used it all over the years so if you're penny pintching and want to spray it in your garage at home with rattle paint let me know and I can turn you on to some good products...cause there is alot of them and some are not good. I'm putting on NCX2005 black sealer...see pic below


    Pillow likes this.

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  3. #2
    Caddy Fabricator is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: How to paint/recondition headlights/tail lights Lots of pics

    After the sealer I'm going to use code 8555 and spray my base coat with PPG Deltron....




    Once the base coat is done allow 20 min or so to flash off and pull your paper off the lens...







    Now its time to apply the clear coat. I use PPG's JC660 clear...its affordable and works well on any spot work. Make sure at this point to use a tack rag to wipe the lens off that you just unmasked....it has collected some dust since we masked it up...a quick wipe makes a big difference. I like my lights to be a bid darker than factory so I'm going to use some of the leftover base coat I just used and add some to my first coat of clear....this will darken up the light and give it a unique look. Once the darkness is where I like it I then hose on a few coats of clear clear.





    Now your are done painting, I waited about 6 hours and then on to the polishing. Polishing is NOT nec. but I like things with little texture/orange peel as I can get so I choose to polish. I started off with 1200 grit, then to 1500, 2000, 3000, 4000 and 5000 grit. The first grit you use is the most important to pay attention to, its the grit that will get all the imperfections out of your paint job....all the rest of the grits purpose is to remove the scratches that your 1200 grit left and to make polishing alot easier. Here is a pic of one of my lights that has not been sanded and one that i just finished with 1200 grit...



    Heres a pic of them as the sandpaper grit increases....



    Heres a pic with the one on the left is 3000 grit and the one on the right is 5000 grit...the higher grit you go the headlight will get clear again...





    Now its time to polish....I use 3 pads with 3 compounds and a little buffer. I start with a white pad and extra cut compound, then yellow pad with polish, then blue pad with finesse compound



  4. #3
    Caddy Fabricator is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: How to paint/recondition headlights/tail lights Lots of pics

    Now you reassemble your car and admire your work ;-)

    I included some pics of my CTS-V as well (I did the lights on it a while back)








    If u notice on this last pic...I took the headlights out, heated the lens and removed them, painted the inside of the light black and inserted the "v" logo inside the light....kinda cool



    All this was done in a 24 hour timeline...it doesnt take long. The best advice I can give is... Painting is the easy part.... the hardest, most time consuming and most important part is PREP, PREP, PREP. I can take rattle can paint and make it look like glass if my prep work is right. I've tried about everything...from fabricating to painting... and still try new stuff all the time, so if you questions about this or other work on your caddy just ask, if I dont know I have the resources to find out.

  5. #4
    253ctsv is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    That is truely awsome work man. I just happened to look in here because I wanted to smoke my lights this weekend. Ive also wanted to do the outline (headlights in particular look like ass). So thanks for the awsome writeup. Now im one of thos rattle can in my gf garage kinda guys. Any products I should look for, or particular tips? Thanks again!

    Also I think ill go for a test run on her car or my work car because im afraid I wont be quite the sander you are lol

  6. #5
    Caddy Fabricator is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: How to paint/recondition headlights/tail lights Lots of pics

    Quote Originally Posted by 253ctsv View Post
    That is truely awsome work man. I just happened to look in here because I wanted to smoke my lights this weekend. Ive also wanted to do the outline (headlights in particular look like ass). So thanks for the awsome writeup. Now im one of thos rattle can in my gf garage kinda guys. Any products I should look for, or particular tips? Thanks again!

    Also I think ill go for a test run on her car or my work car because im afraid I wont be quite the sander you are lol
    Thanks I appreciate that.

    Theres a lot of in the garage kinda guys....aside from the painting all the work above was done in my garage. But, if your on a budget and in a garage at home here is a fast and easy way to get the job done.

    ***DON'T skip the grease and wax remover...very important


    U can prep with only a grey scotchbrite pad it will do the trick, may not take out some of the exsisting imperfections in the light but by the time you tint and clear you prolly wont see it. If your unsure of your prep work and not comfortable sanding on you light you can spray a product out of a rattle can called "bulldog" we use it all the time at my shop...works better than PPG's adhesion promoter IMO and most important it makes paint stick without much prep.




    When masking you can use copy paper from ur computer if you want and any masking tape.

    ***DON'T skip on the blue fine line tape if your 2-toning like I did on my lights---its only $5 per roll and will make your lines crisp

    If you want to do the outer edge black, any black will work for the most part, don't load it up, just put enough on to make it black....dont over do it. The more paint the more texture and peel your gonna get. The can pic below, the one on the right cost $1 at walmart and will do the job just fine.


    I'm a bit picky on the tint, I like this stuff below, I copied and pasted from online(all mine is at work). Be careful spraying it, tint in general is real transparent, it is very easy to run the paint. So do light coats and give plenty of flash time.


    Clear coat is also important to me cause I like to polish my work (even rattle can) Here is a few clears I use


    Make sure and blow your lights with air before paint, wiping isn't good enough. The slightest bit of dust you cant see will be magnified with paint. If you dont have a air compressor then get this.


    -Do a spray out panel on something so you get use to the feel of the spray
    -On new cans, spray them first on something, for whatever reason it seams alot of spray paint the first time you use it doesn't spray well the first 5 sec or so. Sprays out runny non-colored crap.
    -When your finger is on the spray tip your hand should be moving ***never stop movement and spray direct...you will run the paint
    -On the tinting spray, hold it back a bit 12-18 inches from light it'll lay down better on the light, all other spray is 6-12inches

    Hope that helps

  7. #6
    253ctsv is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Helps a lot. Thanks for your time and all the advice. Ill see about getting together all the products and post back when I get on the project. Thanks again

    ----------

    Where do you buy this stuff? I cant find it. Probably gonna have to order online

    ----------

    Only vht night shades tint

    And

    Dupli-color perfect match clear coat.

    Found the bulldog tho. Think I should try the tint and clear coat?

  8. #7
    Caddy Fabricator is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: How to paint/recondition headlights/tail lights Lots of pics

    Quote Originally Posted by 253ctsv View Post
    Helps a lot. Thanks for your time and all the advice. Ill see about getting together all the products and post back when I get on the project. Thanks again

    ----------

    Where do you buy this stuff? I cant find it. Probably gonna have to order online

    ----------

    Only vht night shades tint

    And

    Dupli-color perfect match clear coat.

    Found the bulldog tho. Think I should try the tint and clear coat?
    I think it's great when people try new things...especially when it's on a caddy. Nothing is better then the feeling when it's all back together to step back and say I did that...priceless

    You can get almost everything at one place autobodytoolmart.com Save this link in your address book. They are very reasonably priced and they have a huge selection

    Here is the clear ....I'd pick the second choice cause its 2K which means it has a hardner that is mixed in, but remember, once you mix it, in 24 hours it's no good.

    http://www.autobodytoolmart.com/imag...K-HS-Clear.jpg

    http://www.autobodytoolmart.com/sem-...3-p-26300.aspx

    http://www.autobodytoolmart.com/imag...dium/14525.gif

    http://www.autobodytoolmart.com/spra...2-p-14525.aspx

    Either one of these bulldog's will work but you should prolly get the first one...

    http://www.autobodytoolmart.com/imag...lldog-jamb.gif

    http://www.autobodytoolmart.com/klea...4-p-16011.aspx

    http://www.autobodytoolmart.com/imag...-promoters.gif

    http://www.autobodytoolmart.com/klea...r-p-12810.aspx


    Here is your black paint...get the gloss black

    http://www.autobodytoolmart.com/imag...edium/9001.gif

    http://www.autobodytoolmart.com/dupl...t-p-12715.aspx

    Grey scuff pad...I'd go with the ultra fine and don't bear down on the light when you scuff it

    http://www.autobodytoolmart.com/imag...edium/1120.gif

    http://www.autobodytoolmart.com/mirk...s-p-12048.aspx

    Now the tint you can get on ebay....here is a link...I REALLY like the first one better but I included another one that is ok

    http://i.ebayimg.com/t/Vans-Tail-Light-Tint-Spray-SMOKE-Made-In-Japan-IN-STOCK-READY-TO-SHIP-/00/s/MTYwMFgxMTk1/$T2eC16NHJHQE9nzE)j50BQ6wmiUuuQ~~60_57.JPG

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vans-Tail-Li...87d770&vxp=mtr

    http://i.ebayimg.com/t/Tinting-Spray-Dupli-Color-Acrylic-Spray-150ml-Black-Transparent-/00/s/MzUwWDUwMA==/$(KGrHqRHJFUFBh)GQSEsBQmMlDwrgw~~60_12.JPG

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Tinting-Spra...d177a7&vxp=mtr


    Hope that helps... good luck and let me know how it goes.

  9. #8
    253ctsv is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Wow thanks. Cant ask for more than a parts list of links

  10. #9
    cgroh89 is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: How to paint/recondition headlights/tail lights Lots of pics

    I just restored my lights a few weeks ago as well

    http://ls1tech.com/forums/cadillac-c...salvation.html

  11. #10
    Pillow is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: How to paint/recondition headlights/tail lights Lots of pics

    Thanks for the excellent write up CaddyFab!

    I will be trying some of these new tricks on my front lights

  12. #11
    Andringa is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: How to paint/recondition headlights/tail lights Lots of pics

    Awesome post, thanks for sharing.

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