Cadillac Detailing and Bodywork - Interior and Exterior including Body and Wheels Discussion, Review: 3M Headlight Polishing Kit in Item Specific Cadillac Discussion; Well with the recent spring like weather I've had around my neck of Iowa, I got the itch to start ...
Well with the recent spring like weather I've had around my neck of Iowa, I got the itch to start cleaning up the ole STS more....but mother nature came back with more typical Feb. weather so whatever I did, it needed to be happen in the garage. I'd seen some recent articles about headlight polishing and my headlights were needing it so I figured that would be a good cold weather project.
After looking at Autogeek to get an idea of what was available I was in Napa the following day for oil filters and saw they had a 3M Polishing kit for sale and figured I'd give it a shot. The polishing kit is essentially 3 different sanding grits and a buffing step, and 3M makes good sandpaper so I figured this would probably work well.....and for 18 bucks plus tax it was the right price.
1st Step: Clean Headlight Assy and tape off with painters tape. They recommend to go 2 layers thick to make sure you don't get into the paint while hitting the edges of the lens.
The following 2 pics are of the lens after taped off before starting, you can see the pitting present.
Step 2: Using the 500 grit sanding pad, start sanding the lens in light passes, being sure to get the edges and to use the entire pad. It may take several sanding discs, I think they had 6 in the pack, I used 1 and half of the next, should've finished off the 2nd disc. After getting the lens to a uniform look, switch to the 800 grit disc.
The pic below is after completing the 800 grit step
Step 3: Using their polishing pad(like 3000 grit I believe) you wet sand/polish the lens in a similar method as the 500 and 800 grit passes. Again the more time you spend on this the better the results As you do this the lens should start to clear up.
Step 4. Using the included foam buffing pad and buffing compound, buff out the headlight lens and see the fruits of your labor. If you see excessive scratch marks you may want to drop back down to the polishing pad, or possibly even the 800 grit and work your way back up from there to get the desired results.
Below is the finished product!
Overall I'm pretty happy with it, I can see a couple spots on the lens that I didn't get well enough with the 500 grit to smooth things out, mark that up to experience and I'll do better on the right hand lens when I do that one tomorrow, it took about 45 minutes to do that lens, with reading instructions and having to pull stuff together, so the right one should go quicker. The kit worked great, the instructions were top notch, clear and concise, the sanding discs seemed to last pretty well, the real test will be in how long it lasts, but since this actually removes the pits and scratches instead of sealing it I'm pretty optimistic. Now I haven't compared this to any of the kits on Autogeek in terms of headlights per kit, this is advertised as 2 headlights, I think you might be able to stretch it a bit if you keep the sanding discs clean. Overall I think if you're looking for an easy way to clean up your headlights, can read directions and don't mind spending 20 dollars I think this is a pretty good kit.
Automobile(s): 2002.5 F55 STS, 2014 Explorer XLT 4WD
MD Eastern Shore
Re: Review: 3M Headlight Polishing Kit
Iowa, I did one daughter's Toyota with the 3m kit and got similar great results, and the Western Auto 2 miles from here has it, so its a no-brainer.
I used a www.customchemicalpkg.com kit for my STS, but the headlight lenses were nowhere as pitted as yours, so would guess that kit would be good for less damage/high polish. Its 10,000 grit in 6 foam pads. $14. (Click on "shop" on the home page for all their products.)
Although I use all sorts of Autogeek liquids, waxes, and materials, I have not used their various headlight kits, but its a good site for reference because they go into some detail about their stuff.
Iowa: My headlights look exactly like yours (before shot). I'm surprised at your results as I used the same 3M kit with marginal improvements. I'm thinking I didn't spend enough time at it? I spent about 15 minutes on each headlight and I remember it being very cold that day, around 35 degrees or so. Maybe I should try again when the weather is a little warmer. Do you think I can make them worse by trying again?
****For those of you yet to use a product like this DO NOT skip the step of taping around the lens - the instructions call for two layers. Use three. Your drill will inevitably roll off at even the slightest fatigue of holding it for long periods of time****
kckranz: My guess is that you didn't spend nearly enough time on the sanding, I probably spent about 15 minutes per grit for each headlight. I made sure that I had the heater turned on in the garage because I figured it would be a kinda boring, repetitive job, but just like basically any operation that involves sanding, the more time you spend sanding the better its going to turn out. I did my 2nd headlight about 3 or 4 days after the first and was able to get it done in right under and hour, and I think it looks a bit better than the left, probably partly due to not being as pitted in the first place.
I picked up the 3M kit at the local Napa, they're probably carried at other stores as well, and also saw it on eBay, but by the time you paid shipping eBay was more expensive. Haven't tried any of the AutoGeek kits.....all the rest of their stuff I've used works great and I'm sure their headlight kits would work well also.