Headlight Cleaning
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Cadillac Detailing and Bodywork - Interior and Exterior including Body and Wheels Discussion, Headlight Cleaning in Item Specific Cadillac Discussion; Does anyone have a detailed guide to cleaning headlights. What I have heard is to "wetsand" (which im not sure ...
  1. #1
    Cyberdan3 is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Headlight Cleaning

    Does anyone have a detailed guide to cleaning headlights. What I have heard is to "wetsand" (which im not sure what it is) using 800, 1000, 1500, and 2000 grit, then use some type of polish (3m plastic polish) to make the final buff. I would like to know what you guys have done and the technique you used. I have heard of using side tpo side motion and then others say circular motion. Sorry if there is already a detailed thread on this issue but any help would be great as I would like to remove the haze and scratches from my headlights

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    B Hoth's Avatar
    B Hoth is offline Cadillac Owners Connoisseur
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    Re: Headlight Cleaning

    I've done it with 2000 grit wet sand paper. You use water with the sandpaper and gently move the paper back and forth across the lense from bottom to top direction while keeping the surface wet. You don't want swirl marks (no circular motion). After you get the stains off and the lense is clear a 3M polishing compound should smooth out the lense, then add a couple coats of a good synthetic wax. This continues to work for me on a 99 Dodge Durango. The lenses need to be slightly retouching about once a year.

    I don't claim to be a pro on this but I've watched it done by a few. Some are now using a chemical to treat the heavy stained lenses, but I don't know what that chemical is. A clay bar will work on light stained lenses, so if yours are just starting to show cloudyness try that and see what it looks like. Being that the lenses are expensive on cars these days, if you don't feel comfortable doing it, try on a small lense from a junk yard (there cheap) to experiment. Here they charge from $75 to $150 to do the job, so you can still save money doing it yourself. Good Luck!

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    Cyberdan3 is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Headlight Cleaning

    Seems like its a toss up whether to do up and down or left and right motions. As long as it isnt swirls, It will be fine i guess. Any others who have done this procedure??

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    Frost's Avatar
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    Re: Headlight Cleaning

    Yep, started with 1200 grit then 1500, then 1800, then 2000, then 2500, then 5000 and finsihed up with 9000 micro crystalline abrasive paper. Used a mix of soap/water to keep the paper from "grabbing" as it went across thelense. I went from side to side atrtng at the top and working my way down.

    Finished up with 3 coats of polyseal.

    Yes, it CAN come back to it's former glory but once you've gone this route, you're gonna be touching it up a few times each year. I finally ended up biting the big one and got replacement pods from some warehouse outfit in Californey - they went for 68 bucks apoece, genuine GM-in-the-box c/w proper part numbers.

    Stealership up here wanted $275 bucks PER SIDE, plus installation.

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    kempie is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Headlight Cleaning

    Here is a kit.Black Baron Plastic Lens POLISHING Kit
    I have not tryed this kit but everything else I have bought from these people works as advertized.

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    dp102288's Avatar
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    Re: Headlight Cleaning

    Do you sand the outside of the lens while it is still on the car, or do you take it off and have to sand the inside?

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    Frost's Avatar
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    Re: Headlight Cleaning

    It was done "in situ" - you don't remove the lense and you don't have to touch the inside - all the problems should be on the outside = at least that was my experience.

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    Cyberdan3 is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Headlight Cleaning

    Quote Originally Posted by dp102288 View Post
    Do you sand the outside of the lens while it is still on the car, or do you take it off and have to sand the inside?
    I would think you just sand the outisde, since the inside is going to be almost sealed up due to the bulb.


    "Yes, it CAN come back to it's former glory but once you've gone this route, you're gonna be touching it up a few times each year. I finally ended up biting the big one and got replacement pods from some warehouse outfit in Californey - they went for 68 bucks apoece, genuine GM-in-the-box c/w proper part numbers."

    You said you will do them a couple times a year, Is that because the results are so good you wil be addicted? Also, you said use polyseal. Is that the same thing as clearcoat. I have a can of clearcoat I can just spray a couple times over the headlight. And lastly, what are the "pods"?

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    Frost's Avatar
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    Re: Headlight Cleaning

    I guess clearcoat paint would help - never tried it - you have to touch them up because you will be painfully aware of any blemishes after investing the time to clean them up the 1st time.

    The pods are the headlamp units - they come in one big sealed pkg. After I put those on, I immediately polyseal'd them and am diligent about it throughout the summer. It is going on 3 years now for the new ones and there is no hazing, not even a hint of a blemish - just crystal clear lenses.

    Sure the car is stored indoors in the winter, but it spends the other 3 seasons in the great outdoors, being assaulted by the sun, the acid rain, the bug juice, the road dirt/tar/stones from other cars/trucks, you get the photo,,,,,,

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    dp102288's Avatar
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    Re: Headlight Cleaning

    What causes lenses to do this? We have cars from an 89 Buick Regal, to a 02 Galant, and many in between. None have ever had a headlight fogging problem. Why does this happen?

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    Frost's Avatar
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    Re: Headlight Cleaning

    For starters, the lenses on the later Caddies are plastic, not glass.

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    Re: Headlight Cleaning

    Do you remember the name of the place in CA that sells the units?

  14. #13
    Cyberdan3 is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Headlight Cleaning

    Well I tried it. First cleaned off the debris. Then i had a bucket of Dial soapy water. I started with 800 grit and sanded side to side while always keeping the friction down with the water. I then moved to 1500 and then to 2000 until the headlight was smooth but hazy. I then used 3m plastic polishand buffed to a haze, turned over the cloth and buffed off. At this point I would have expected a very clear headlight, but it was not. The headlight was actually more hazy than the other one. When I get the headlight wet it looks clean but it dries to a haze. HELP!!!

  15. #14
    SL1CK's Avatar
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    Re: Headlight Cleaning

    Really, wetsanding would be needed only if they were in REALLY bad condition.

    All you need is a bottle of Meguiars PlastX (3.99 i think), 2 foam applicator pads (2.99) and some elbow grease. 7 bucks total guys.

    Work the PlastX on the headlight like you would a rubbing compound on paint.

    If its real bad, then yes, wetsanding is needed.

    You can wetsand with the grit paper and polish it out with 4" ( think 4 inch) spot budd pads to get the marks out.

  16. #15
    Cyberdan3 is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Headlight Cleaning

    So what do I do now that it is hazy. When I spray windex or something on the light and clean it leaves a clear trail, but fogs up right away.....

    And I bought 3M plastic polish, so that should do the trick right?

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