Cleaning or De-oxidizing Headlights?
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  • 3 Post By MoistCabbage
Cadillac DTS Forum - 2006 through 2012 Discussion, Cleaning or De-oxidizing Headlights? in Past Cadillac Vehicle Discussion; I had to get my DS headlight replaced and it looks like new money! However, the PS looks oxidized. Any ...
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    Black Dawg's Avatar
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    Cleaning or De-oxidizing Headlights?

    I had to get my DS headlight replaced and it looks like new money! However, the PS looks oxidized. Any proven suggestions on cleaning it up? Don't really feel like spending a few hundred on replacing the other side.

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    Atavar is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Cleaning or De-oxidizing Headlights?

    My experience is that the headlight restoring products are an insane amount of work and look good for a couple weeks. Once you break the glaze it doesn't take the acrylic long to get foggy again.

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    Black Dawg's Avatar
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    Re: Cleaning or De-oxidizing Headlights?

    I've seen some local deals advertised on Amazon for professional cleaning by the likes of Maaco, it was only $20, thinking about giving it a shot.

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    Atavar is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Cleaning or De-oxidizing Headlights?

    Same deal. Once you grind the hard surface off the lens it will fog up again in a matter of weeks. They will then have an addicted customer. Bite the bullet and replace the assembly.

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    MoistCabbage's Avatar
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    Sanding and polishing leaves you with the same exact surface as a brand new assembly - smooth plastic. If the "restoration" was done correctly, the lens will stay clear just as long as a new one.

    When I bought my car, the lights looked like someone pored honey on them, and let them bake in the sun. I wet sanded and waxed them almost 4 years ago, they came out crystal clear. Here they are a few months ago:





    Zoom in. Crystal clear.

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    concorso is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: Cleaning or De-oxidizing Headlights?

    Quote Originally Posted by MoistCabbage View Post
    Sanding and polishing leaves you with the same exact surface as a brand new assembly - smooth plastic. If the "restoration" was done correctly, the lens will stay clear just as long as a new one.
    This isnt entirely true. Lots of headlights have a clear film-like coating on them that resists fading, Im assuming because its full of UV inhibitors? The 1st gen CTs is a good example. If you polish the headlights without removing that clear coat, they will stay that way indefinitely with minor regular upkeep. If you have to sand through the clear coat to get perfect glass again, the lens can fog over and yellow again with time. Ive done this procedure a few times, and always get the headlights clear coated after Im done.

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    MoistCabbage's Avatar
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    I've never restored a headlight that had any type of coating on it, done dozens over the years. None of the ones that still belong to friends or family have ever gotten yellow again. A quick plastic polish when the car is waxed keeps them clear.

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    Atavar is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: Cleaning or De-oxidizing Headlights?

    The Acrylic headlights have a hardened surface. When you abrasively polish those you reduce or remove that hardened surface, This is why you have to frequently "polish" once it has been done. Restored headlights will not stay clear as long as new headlights.
    These plastic headlight lenses are one of the ways that car makers have saved money at our expense. They are also spending your money with TPMS sensors that rely on batteries that cannot be replaced by the layman.

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    Mine are wiped down quickly with Plast-X, less than a minute a side, every spring. FWIW, they have never actually looked even the least bit oxidized before polishing. That said, clearing the lens would be a permanent solution.

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    Re: Cleaning or De-oxidizing Headlights?

    Quote Originally Posted by MoistCabbage View Post
    Sanding and polishing leaves you with the same exact surface as a brand new assembly - smooth plastic. If the "restoration" was done correctly, the lens will stay clear just as long as a new one.

    When I bought my car, the lights looked like someone pored honey on them, and let them bake in the sun. I wet sanded and waxed them almost 4 years ago, they came out crystal clear. Here they are a few months ago:





    Zoom in. Crystal clear.
    There so many of these products out there, would you tell us which one you used.

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    concorso is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: Cleaning or De-oxidizing Headlights?

    Quote Originally Posted by Atavar View Post
    The Acrylic headlights have a hardened surface. When you abrasively polish those you reduce or remove that hardened surface, This is why you have to frequently "polish" once it has been done. Restored headlights will not stay clear as long as new headlights.
    These plastic headlight lenses are one of the ways that car makers have saved money at our expense. They are also spending your money with TPMS sensors that rely on batteries that cannot be replaced by the layman.
    Noticeably harder, too. Once youve sanded through that hardened surface, it takes a much less aggressive sand paper to correct scratches...

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    Re: Cleaning or De-oxidizing Headlights?

    3M makes a good headlight restoration product. The only supplies you will need is a drill and some tape and water. If i remember correctly the kit sells around 20$ and have tried it myself with good results. If you want to take a step further, invest in a PC 7424XP Dual Action Polisher and you can get a 3.5 backing plate perfect size for doing headlights. I recommend Chemical Guys products

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    MoistCabbage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie39

    There so many of these products out there, would you tell us which one you used.
    No kits.

    3M wet sandpaper, 400-600-800-1000-1,500 grits. For polishing, I use Presta products and a Dewalt rotary buffer. Super Cutting Cream on a yellow wool pad, then 1500 Polish on a green wool pad, then Swirl Remover on a blue wool, then white foam pad. Then a couple of coats of wax.

    WAY overkill if you're just doing headlights, but I have the polishing equipment/supplies already because I do detailing.

    But the basic process is the same - Sand and polish. Take your time and make sure there are no sand scratches left, and make sure the surface has no cloudy areas when you're done polishing.

    If the lenses are really bad, you can always buy a kit, and extra sandpaper on the side. It doesn't matter how much sanding you do, as long as you end with a very fine grit. So regardless of how much you have to sand, the polishing supplies in the kit will still be enough to finish.

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    Re: Cleaning or De-oxidizing Headlights?

    I have 3M protective film on my headlights... going on 8 years and they still look good.

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