Cadillac Owners Forum banner

1 - 20 of 34 Posts

·
Registered
08 CTS DI
Joined
·
1,944 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
acstudios put this idea in my head and I went with it since my headlight assemblies sprung a leak point and needed to be resealed. The reason appears to be from my observation, the result of a failure of the boss for the retaining screw in the upper outboard corner. The hardened sealant lets go at that location and it's revealed when the area is blasted with the water hose. Several of the bosses show stress cracks and I reinforced them by overlaying them with JB Weld clear epoxy for plastic after a little scuff work with sand paper. Getting the covers off is a little tough but doable with guidance. Start near the upper outer corner after a good bake job at 225 deg for 15 min (I've seen as high as 240 suggested). I used two screw drivers, one small to get through the crack in order to make room for the larger driver and then gently pry until you see movement and move along the top to even it out. Watch the tabs along the lower sides to avoid breaking them. Do not pry the lens too far apart at the top before going to the bottom and trying to make progress there, to reduce the chances of putting stress cracks in that area.

The clear lenses can be found here; https://www.theretrofitsource.com/complete-retrofit-kits/lenses/black-series.html

They require some work to fit properly as they are 66 mm in diameter and the OE lenses are 68 mm in diameter. The OE lens is also a little thinner along the perimeter lip. I used my dremel tool to trim slots for the retaining clips back a little to make a little more room for the slightly thicker lens, after I chipped it while thinking the lens holder would flex enough to leave as is. The chipped area does not interfere with the beam. I also added a few pieces of cork to help center the lens using DAP's Weldwood contact cement which is a very strong adhesive. There is a small convex divot at the bottom of the lens holder that fits in a slot on the OE lens, which helps push the unslotted smaller diameter lens toward the center of the housing.

The reason these assemblies cost so much money is because there's so much stuff in them. I can't imagine the horror that would be experienced by an owner who encountered a minor accident not his/her fault and let the guilty party off the hook for a couple hundred dollars cash to call it even, thinking they'll just add another hundred and get a new assembly.

As I suspected, my daytime running bulbs are blown and they're going to stay that way until I find a suitable LED to replace them with. The stock bulbs get entirely too hot for the reflector as can be seen in the picture. That makes no sense. Don't even think about installing a higher wattage bulb.

I forgot to take pictures of the LED upgrade for the light bar, but the process can be reviewed in this thread;

https://www.cadillacowners.com/forum/62-general-09-up-cts-v-questions/84689-who-wants-brighter-light-bars-tubes-headlights.html

The assemblies are still curing sealant and clear coat wise so I have not been able to observe the outcome yet but will report back when I do.

Here is my earlier thread leading up to this;

https://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/2008-2013-cadillac-cts-appearance-mods/1053058-hid-headlight-bulb-replacement-minor-lens.html#post17440178
 

Attachments

·
Registered
'12 CTS Performance Sports Wagon AWD
Joined
·
2,581 Posts
There is a thread where someone totally upgraded their HID lights... Mine look pretty good still but I have some non-hid lights in storage that are brand new I bought for my non-hid sedan...

I want to body color match mine...

Does the clear lens make a big difference?
 

·
Registered
08 CTS DI
Joined
·
1,944 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
There is a thread where someone totally upgraded their HID lights... Mine look pretty good still but I have some non-hid lights in storage that are brand new I bought for my non-hid sedan...

I want to body color match mine...

Does the clear lens make a big difference?
I don't know yet, I just finished putting them on the car. I had an interesting scare, as I was putting them on the car, I noticed hazing revealed by the sunlight that I had not seen indoors. The lights looked great except for hazing at the top and along the sides and that's when I realized it was increasing and figured out it was the temp change from warm indoors, to cool outside causing a mild condensation to form. I removed both bulb access covers and let the sunlight dry them out which took about a minute. They really look good in the sunlight. The car is filthy from sitting for four days thanks to dust and pollen and is actually a drag on the lights for a change.

I just received my shipment of CANBUS friendly leds from China via aliexpress, that's a great place to shop if you want to experiment without breaking the bank. $12.42 worth of leds in the picture. It just took 30 days.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
08 CTS DI
Joined
·
1,944 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
So far everything appears to be working normally. I do have some annoying condensation at the moment with the temp drop tonight and think it is actually chemical vapor from the DAP sealant. When I equalized the assemblies with the outside air this morning to remove the initial condensation haze, I noticed the solvent odor associated with the sealant although it has been more than 24 hrs since applied. I took another look at the label and noted it can take 7-14 days for the adhesive to cure, which is latex, not silicone but has silicone like properties and apparently it is the humidity level that affects cure times with caulk instead of the temperature. Perhaps that's why the manufacturer uses butyl which I have but decided on the latex to avoid additional baking especially with the weakened bosses for the screws.

The indoor temps at application fluctuated between 65 and 75 degrees (because someone in the house has that fish disease, "minnow pause") so I'm not sure where the bulk of the cause lies but will wait a day or two to decide whether or not I need to take further dehumidification measures. Now that I think about it, I may need to remove the headlight bulb door and tape a piece of cloth over it to help facilitate the process, because now I realize the assembly was sealed upon the covers being applied which means the gasses from the sealant on the inside of the assembly were trapped inside. In the future, the bulb access doors need to be left off during the initial 24 hr cure at least under the current weather conditions.

I took some before pics of the lighting, but until the condensation is resolved I'll have to wait before I can fairly assess any visible improvement. I know there is some because the headlight sweep at startup is not as obvious as it was before the cover clarity was restored, which is why I didn't realize the headlights did this right away when I got the car because the covers had been restored at the time. I just hope no water spots develop on the inside of the cover.
 

·
Registered
08 CTS DI
Joined
·
1,944 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
... Does the clear lens make a big difference?
The clear lens makes a difference, but not what I'd call a big one. I would not recommend anyone tear their headlights down to install them, and if you have to open the light because of a leak like I did, I still wouldn't recommend it. I noticed after the projectors were exposed, that there is an adjustment screw for the beam cutoff. As some may already know, the difference between low beam and high beam with the HID light is the retraction of a shutter half located at the bottom of the lower lens housing.

The adjustment screw which can be seen in the after picture above, is the little black torx screw located at the bottom left of the lens. It sets the stop point of the shutter when it is in the low beam position. Adjusting that screw would lower the shutter some, revealing more light in the low beam position, which would equate to and likely exceed the output the clear lens provides with no adjustment, except for free.

There may still be more improvement to observe once the condensation finally clears. On the bright side (pun intended), I am very happy with the finish of the cover and having a sealed beam again.
 

·
Registered
Go ahead, blame me. Everybody does 🙄
Joined
·
7,753 Posts
"Minnow pause" gave me a good chuckle this morning, Joseph. I'll be sure to use that line on a hormonally imbalanced middle aged woman in tears the next time I'm interested in a quick, embarrassing beatdown.

As usual, nice write-up. Interested to see if your condensation issue clears after the chemicals have reached full cure.
Lights look great!
 

·
Registered
CTS Premium Coupe, 2012
Joined
·
27 Posts
Is the moving portion (Left to Right with steering wheel) of the projector part of the projector assembly or in the headlight with the projector assembly mounted to it. Maybe you can upgrade the whole projector set-up and keep the moving feature? Also, I am curious to know if you believe your new clear lens make the low beam cut-off line sharper like in this picture:

CTSheadlightCutoff.JPG
 

·
Registered
08 CTS DI
Joined
·
1,944 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Is the moving portion (Left to Right with steering wheel) of the projector part of the projector assembly or in the headlight with the projector assembly mounted to it. Maybe you can upgrade the whole projector set-up and keep the moving feature? Also, I am curious to know if you believe your new clear lens make the low beam cut-off line sharper like in this picture:
The horizontal actuator is mounted to the carrier that holds the projector. The assembly you posted in your top photo mounts to that carrier.
I did take a look at the cut off this morning but it was from inside the car, I'll have to go back to the check point in a few days and get out of the car the way I did initially and take a look. At this point, it does not appear to be as crisp as what your pictures show, but in order for that comparison to count I would have to duplicate the exact same circumstance as demonstrated in your pics instead of the grey wall of Advance autoparts between two trash cans as markers. A far cry from a scaled background but original.

I can say the cutoff appears to be similar to what my stock lenses produced but that can't be confirmed until after the condensation clears completely and I go back and get out of the car and snap a picture like I did initially, instead of shooting through the windshield at what was also a bit further back than I was initially.

I questioned internally, whether or not the frosted appearance of the OE lens really dampened the light much given the effect is not that pronounced with the lenses side by side flat on the same surface. I saw a comparison that pointed out a little diminished resolution in the perimeter, but when I shined a flashlight through the lens at the wall and the floor, it became evident that a good bit of the outer perimeter of the lens may not play a part in the light emission at all. They call them projectors for a reason and when you think about the mechanics behind it, that all boils down to approaching laser like light emission instead of the good old spray pattern of the conventional bulbs. I also suspect that the crosshair/bullseye at the apex of the OE lens has an effect on the cutoff.
 

·
Registered
08 CTS DI
Joined
·
1,944 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
"Minnow pause" gave me a good chuckle this morning, Joseph. I'll be sure to use that line on a hormonally imbalanced middle aged woman in tears the next time I'm interested in a quick, embarrassing beatdown.

As usual, nice write-up. Interested to see if your condensation issue clears after the chemicals have reached full cure.
Lights look great!
Thanks Long, I washed the car today and the lights were really "popping". With the lights in the shape they are in now the car looks more like the occasional new CTS I run across, that's just how great an effect the light appearance can have on a car in either direction.

As for "Minnow pause", I think it, but I never say it. I know they struggle with it some times, but it's no fun waking up from a bad dream in the middle of the night brought on by a near heat stroke either, because the temperature mysteriously changed while I was wrapped up in a comforter.
 

·
Registered
Go ahead, blame me. Everybody does 🙄
Joined
·
7,753 Posts
The light assemblies make up a considerable portion of the cars front end real estate, so it goes without saying that tarnished lenses would detract from the appearance.
Kudos for taking on the job!
 

·
Registered
08 CTS DI
Joined
·
1,944 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Well done, Mr. Upson. May I ask what you used to seal and coat the lenses?
DAP Black Dynaflex 230 from Lowe's along with a caulk gun totaling about $8. Don't go crazy with it like I did even though it appears that's what the factory did.

The coating was a 50/50 mix of Minwax indoor/outdoor Helmsman clear gloss spar urethane, oil based (green can) and odorless mineral spirits. It's as impressive as acstudios said it was and equally forgiving. I didn't like my first attempt and simply wiped it all off with spirits in less than a minute and started over. It's a very quick process.

The challenge is making sure you don't miss any spots. I'd say make the shop towel square about 1.5" in width and about 1/4" thick and try to position yourself, or the light in a manner that makes it easy to see if you miss a spot. I believe the dimensions above which are a little smaller than what I used and more flexible will make it easier. I did a lot of reading on the subject after the process which took me to the masters of varnish use, wood carpenters and boatmen, where I learned Zymol auto wax is about the best thing on the market to use on varnish because it has no silicone and no solvents and gives an awesome shine although in this case, it's the added UV protection it can offer which may prolong the urethane service life.

On a pro headlight resto forum I learned that when using the urethane method, it is better to prime the surface by wiping it with mineral spirits after a thorough cleaning to remove any wax residue, and let it dry. Then dampen your applicator a little with mineral spirits before you dip it in the mix. The theoretical side of me leads me to believe that the priming step results in the urethane having a bridging surface film to help fill in those little skip spots that can occur. I found two spots the following day after application and performed some spot work.
 

·
Registered
'09 CTS DI FE1 Luxury
Joined
·
1,297 Posts
Thank you. I plan to refinish my lenses when the weather gets a lot warmer. I'll also be changing all the bulbs, possibly to LED. Do you suppose that a foam brush would work well for the application? Any thoughts on rattle can clear coating?
 

·
Registered
08 CTS DI
Joined
·
1,944 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Thank you. I plan to refinish my lenses when the weather gets a lot warmer. I'll also be changing all the bulbs, possibly to LED. Do you suppose that a foam brush would work well for the application? Any thoughts on rattle can clear coating?
My understanding is that the right kind of brush can work, however, no one seems to go that route for headlight finishing and offered no recommendations. As for the clear coat spray, I noted that rustoleum 2k is hit and miss and when it misses it does so in a bad way and duplicolor clear does a decent job but might not hold up as well as the urethane. I first purchased a can of the good stuff, the professional two part 2k clear in the can, but wasn't in a hurry to waste it on one set of headlights at nearly $20 a can and a 48 hr shelf life once activated. Depending on how well the urethane does, I have it for backup and will plan to do both cars plus my mom's to make sure it doesn't go to waste.

I watched a couple of videos of it in action and it really does do a great job and I'm certain it is better than the urethane application, just not as safe to use. You need a respirator mask and distance from anything you don't want paint on because the stuff gets on everything despite the careless nature of some individuals seen spraying it in videos. You don't want that stuff in your lungs, or on cars it is not supposed to be on. I setup the urethane on the dining room table without issue. My wife was asleep.
 

·
Registered
08 CTS DI
Joined
·
1,944 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Is the moving portion (Left to Right with steering wheel) of the projector part of the projector assembly or in the headlight with the projector assembly mounted to it. Maybe you can upgrade the whole projector set-up and keep the moving feature? Also, I am curious to know if you believe your new clear lens make the low beam cut-off line sharper like in this picture:

View attachment 543370
I have to walk my initial assessment back a bit. I had to do some early morning driving through some areas bounded by trees and poorly lit. I wasn't thinking about the lighting but my attention was drawn to it when I could see the beam cutoff bouncing on the tree line. I don't recall noticing that in the past and when I arrived at my destination I was able to see a cutoff with a lot more definition than what I had previously observed, no doubt in part because the car was level and the wall reflected off of was a different color. I have an increased sense of improvement now and will try to find a suitable location for a better view.
 

·
Registered
08 CTS DI
Joined
·
1,944 Posts
Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Thanks, urethane it is. Not the expensive kind either.
Just make sure it is the type tried and proven. There are two versions offered by Minwax, oil based and water based. You want oil based which is in the green can. Make sure it's not too old also. I plan to do the Nissan lights next and I'm going to apply a double coat for more UV protection in hopes of a greater longevity which currently appears to be about a year +/-. Some have upped the urethane concentration to 60% and as much as 70% I recall reading, but I believe these individuals are more experienced in the application, because the thicker mix is more prone to streak if your hand is not steady and efficient during the application.

I decided there was too much condensation in the lights to wait it out and removed them and pulled the access covers and let them air out. The sealant fumes were faint this time. There is a closed vent on the headlight that I was aware of while handling, but did not realize until reinstall this time that it is accessible without removing the headlight, by lifting the forward trim covering the lights. They are clear this morning. Keep that in mind in the event you find it necessary to peel the adhesive strip back to expose the inside environment to the atmosphere to help manage any condensation that may form. Otherwise leave the access doors open as long as you can to allow the sealant to cure and make sure the assemblies are normalized with the ambient temps before closing the doors, a little cooler may be beneficial.

I didn't say much about the light bar Led swap, but after realizing the bars can be turned on without the projectors, it is clear the bars are better lit than they were before the Led change.


I got a lot of those when I baked the hi-temp paint on a motorcycle exhaust years ago. :rant2:
For those unaware, hi temp paint gives off a lot of smoke while being cured by running the engine to heat up the exhaust. The can also says you can cure it in the oven, but since most ovens are indoors I don't think they gave that idea enough thought.


I had cleaning the valves, and changing the motor mounts scheduled for yesterday, to follow changing the plugs in my mom's saturn, a 1hr job tops on her LY7 motor, which does not require removal of the intake. Then I got distracted and forgot that I had not put the socket back on the new plug that had already been partially threaded, stuck the extension in the hole on the back side of the FWD motor, which wedged between the plug terminal and wall, twisted and snapped the plug stem sending porcelain bits down around its perimeter and instantly the 1hr job turned into 6 hrs. I had to remove the intake, eventually crush the bits further by hammering a 12 point socket down in the hole not too roughly, when I could not blow them out with my air compressor, which I had to make a custom diaphragm for from heater hose first, upon discovering the original had sprung a leak holding me to 50 psi of the 100 I was seeking.

Finally got the bits and a new plug and had to go back and purchase a thread chaser because during the plug twisting inward a little to help further crumble the bits to blow them out easier, some wedged in the threads. Cranked the car up after the plugs were finally in and it was skipping, the scanner pointed out I had forgotten to plug in the variable intake valve, I corrected that, cleared the codes and fired it up. It idled smooth until I gave it a little gas where it started skipping again and making some bad noises. I shut it down and felt doomed except for scanning again to see if the miss was coming from the cylinder the plug broke on. Cranked the car up again and no trouble, test drove it and had my mom test drive it with no further problems. I thanked God and called it a day after starting at 10 a.m. and finishing around 5 p.m. I will not make that mistake again.

I'm really hoping to get the valves cleaned today because I have an 80 mile drive back home from my Mom's, having had to stay overnight because of the excursion. The last hwy mpg test netted 28 mpg on the return trip and I want to see if it improves after addressing the valves. I also measured the before height of the intake relative to the strut tower brace to see if the mounts raise the motor any after install.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
08 CTS DI
Joined
·
1,944 Posts
Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
Is the moving portion (Left to Right with steering wheel) of the projector part of the projector assembly or in the headlight with the projector assembly mounted to it. Maybe you can upgrade the whole projector set-up and keep the moving feature? Also, I am curious to know if you believe your new clear lens make the low beam cut-off line sharper like in this picture:

View attachment 543370
Now with the condensation cleared out, the cutoff is very much like the examples you posted and quite noticeable in the periphery. One of the links I posted associated with replacing the light bar Led covers swapping to a different projector. That's something I'd experiment with when I get my hands on an extra pair of lights for a bargain price. I laughed at a HID assembly with a broken cover for sale on ebay a while back before I discovered what I know now.
 
1 - 20 of 34 Posts
Top