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2009 CTS 3.6L LY7
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Discussion Starter #1
Both headlights are like this. Is this yellowed clear coat?

I've sanded & cleaned up sun damaged headlights before but I was wondering if trying to save these is a fools errand?

Thanks.

Eric
IMG_20200729_133035776 (Medium).jpg
 

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2011 CTS Coupe FE3, 2003 Thunderbird, Gone 2013 ATS, 02 Deville
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I use Meguiar's headlight restoration kit, it comes in three styles, severe, moderate and light.
Yours I suggest is the light for your headlight.

Mine looked worse than yours. This is what it looks like just after I used the Meguiar's kit and sprayed it with the UV protection clear paint in the kit.
 

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2009 CTS 3.6L LY7
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Discussion Starter #4
Ohhh nice! Thank you very much. I thought they were goners. (y)
 

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Black/Black 2013 CTS Sedan 3.0L RWD (98k miles)
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1,186 Posts
I heard using toothpaste and rubbing is a cheap way to fix them. I have not tried it tho, my original headlights are still going strong.
 

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2019 XTS Luxury AWD, 2004 SRX N* AWD (gone)
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Should be able to get a good result. I would put a UV protection synthetic wax on them after, and re-apply every month.
 

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95 Cadillac Deville, 18 BMW X5, 20 Silverado 2500
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Both headlights are like this. Is this yellowed clear coat?

I've sanded & cleaned up sun damaged headlights before but I was wondering if trying to save these is a fools errand?

Thanks.

Eric View attachment 585376
I u
Both headlights are like this. Is this yellowed clear coat?

I've sanded & cleaned up sun damaged headlights before but I was wondering if trying to save these is a fools errand?

Thanks.

Eric View attachment 585376
I use 1200 sandpaper to remove the yellow, then polish and finally transparent spray and they are like new
 

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2002 DTS, 1997 SLS
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609 Posts
I don’t mean to be a Debbie downer or the bearer of bad news... But from what it looks like, your headlights are indeed in very bad shape. And it’s not that they’re going to be impossible to restore, because they aren’t, it’s that they’re beyond the point where a simple polishing can clear them up and make them like new again.

Your headlights [and this is very common with Cadillacs] are to point where you’re going to need to sand that original layer of UV coating/clearcoat completely off in order to restore them back to clarity, and that kit will allow you to do just that. The bad part is that it won’t ever come close to living up to the quality and durability of the original coating that was on there and therefore the results will be short lived. They may last a good while by some people’s standards, but even in the best case scenario they’ll eventually die a slow and ugly death. [6 months to 1yr maybe a bit more if it’s garage kept]

And IME Cadillac headlights just don’t seem to be very cooperative during their march toward that slow death. You’ll notice it, and if your standards are high when it comes to the details of your car it’ll eventually come back to bug you, possibly even worse than before because trying to remove and re start that process again isn’t always very easy.

Here’s a couple Cadillac headlights I’ve restored. They look great initially, but it doesn’t stay like this for long enough.

My process is usually sanding with:
500 grit
800 grit
1000 grit
3000 grit

Machine Compound
Machine Polish
Ceramic Headlight Coating

Or instead of machine compounding go straight from 3000 grit to clearcoat spray paint.

2002 DTS








2004 CTS





Here’s what the headlights on my current 2000 DHS look like. The drivers side light is not perfect, but very good, that’s because this light was replaced new sometime within the past 3-5yrs. [my estimation on the timeframe]



The passenger side headlight appears to be original, but it’s not in quite as good condition. You can see the haze near the top of the light and it shows more in real life.




And since these Cadillac headlights don’t simply clean up with a simple polish, the only other way to clean them up is to do the sanding process, which I know better than to do because I’d much rather leave them be than have to deal with what they’ll look like within a years time if I were to sand off this original coating which isn’t really too bad at this moment.

My long term plan is to eventually buy 2 brand new headlights and protect them from new. But they’re ok for now.

Hope this wasn’t too long of a post. Thx for reading.
 

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2009 CTS 3.6L LY7
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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the post Eldorado. Not too long at all. I always say, "You can never have too much information." I've added a pic I didn't before. I'm worried about this yellow along the edge. It looks to me like it's on the inside or on the back side. I have a cordless orbital sander & a Porter Cable orbital polisher I'll be using. Then maybe I'll have a bodyman buddy do the clear coat. Should get the kit early next week & we'll see how it goes. Hopefully I can clean them up & they'll last for a while. Thanks again. (y)
IMG_20200730_151414796.jpg
 

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2019 XTS Luxury AWD, 2004 SRX N* AWD (gone)
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Thanks for the post Eldorado. Not too long at all. I always say, "You can never have too much information." I've added a pic I didn't before. I'm worried about this yellow along the edge. It looks to me like it's on the inside or on the back side. I have a cordless orbital sander & a Porter Cable orbital polisher I'll be using. Then maybe I'll have a bodyman buddy do the clear coat. Should get the kit early next week & we'll see how it goes. Hopefully I can clean them up & they'll last for a while. Thanks again. (y) View attachment 585458
I had my now gone G1SRX's headlights sanded and clear coated, plus I used a UV protectant synthetic wax on them, and at 4 yrs when I traded it in on my current Cadillac, the headlights were still like the day they were done. My car is garaged though and not sitting out in the sun. Whatever clear coat you get done, make sure it has UV protectant in it.

Those look like scratches, you may be able to get some or most of it out, but probably not all, and if that is moisture inside that needs to be handled a different way (you probably know that!)
 

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2002 DTS, 1997 SLS
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I had my now gone G1SRX's headlights sanded and clear coated, plus I used a UV protectant synthetic wax on them, and at 4 yrs when I traded it in on my current Cadillac, the headlights were still like the day they were done. My car is garaged though and not sitting out in the sun. Whatever clear coat you get done, make sure it has UV protectant in it.

Those look like scratches, you may be able to get some or most of it out, but probably not all, and if that is moisture inside that needs to be handled a different way (you probably know that!)
Some vehicles are an absolute cake walk when it comes to how the plastic headlights behave when you go to restore them. Toyota Camrys come to mind, and then there’s this Volkwagen Jetta I did that went from this:




To this with just some compound and a 3” pad on the buffer in less than 1 min. time.




But leave it to GM to complicate what could be the easiest things such as the headlights on most Cadillacs.

The absolute worst they’ve ever done in regards to screwing their customers on headlights was on the C6 Corvettes. Those headlights are like beyond impossible to restore. I made the mistake of getting involed once and found out I couldn’t even sand off the original coating off those things. Even after 30+ minutes of dry sanding with a polisher those headlights must’ve been made of diamonds from hell! Lol.

And not only are they impossible to restore, but if you want to buy some new ones they’ll only cost somewhere between $1,200 - $1,800 per pair. Thanks GM, that was a good 1. Lol.
 

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2019 XTS Luxury AWD, 2004 SRX N* AWD (gone)
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Some vehicles are an absolute cake walk when it comes to how the plastic headlights behave when you go to restore them. Toyota Camrys come to mind, and then there’s this Volkwagen Jetta I did that went from this:




To this with just some compound and a 3” pad on the buffer in less than 1 min. time.




But leave it to GM to complicate what could be the easiest things such as the headlights on most Cadillacs.

The absolute worst they’ve ever done in regards to screwing their customers on headlights was on the C6 Corvettes. Those headlights are like beyond impossible to restore. I made the mistake of getting involed once and found out I couldn’t even sand off the original coating off those things. Even after 30+ minutes of dry sanding with a polisher those headlights must’ve been made of diamonds from hell! Lol.

And not only are they impossible to restore, but if you want to buy some new ones they’ll only cost somewhere between $1,200 - $1,800 per pair. Thanks GM, that was a good 1. Lol.
Great job! I wonder if the 'diamond' headlights had yellowing or hazing on the inside and that is why you couldn't remove it???
 

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2002 DTS, 1997 SLS
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Great job! I wonder if the 'diamond' headlights had yellowing or hazing on the inside and that is why you couldn't remove it???
Nope, it was on the outside. You could literally take your fingernail and try to scratch it off but it wouldn’t budge. 400 grit dry sandpaper for a half hour couldn’t make a dent in it. Come to find out those headlights are a known problem within the Corvette enthusiasts. I walked into a death trap. Lol
 

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Nope, it was on the outside. You could literally take your fingernail and try to scratch it off but it wouldn’t budge. 400 grit dry sandpaper for a half hour couldn’t make a dent in it. Come to find out those headlights are a known problem within the Corvette enthusiasts. I walked into a death trap. Lol
Sheesh!
 

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2011 CTS Wagon Performance
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Eldorado's process is similar to mine and really the only way a clean up will last. I use 2 stage clear, then wet-sand, polish again. The issue is the inside of the lens. You will improve the lenses with the wet sand/clear/polish method, but if there are issues on the inside, those will, of course, still be visible. With yours, I think the only way to know is to try. They'll have to look some better regardless.
 
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