Friday, June 1, 2012

Cloudy headlight repair... the right way.

Most modern aerodynamic headlights are made of plastic. They are optically efficient, light weight, cheap to manufacturer, and can be molded to match the aerodynamic shape of the vehicle.

What they are not.... is sturdy. All it takes is age and abuse to damage the plastic lens and cloud it milky white. Abuse is a special word car makers use to define "You actually dared to drive your car on the street !?!?!"

Scooter II's headlight were just such a cloudy and hazed optical disaster. I bought the car knowing that, and knowing how to fix the issue.

There are three ways to deal with it.

One: Buy new headlight housings and install them. On a cheap ride like Scooter II, that's only about $100 for the pair. On a nice car, it can easily reach $200 per.

Two: Buff the head light lens either by hand or with a power buffer. In either case, work wet and go gently. The plastic can be 'burned' very quickly. I hit the Elantra headlights with a power buffer and Dupont #7 polish, which got me roughly 80% improvement. Close, but no cigar.

Three: Bribe a collision repair person to shoot them with a hard clear, like would be used over an old style non-aqueous paint job. Most body shops still work the materials and have them on hand, and most are willing to hang the housing in the booth and spray them along with whatever else they are shooting clear on that day. The lens need to be wet sanded with 600 grit first, but that's the work of minutes.

The head light above was a milk cloud when I started. Ten minutes with some 600 grit wet/dry, and a cold ice tea to bribe the painter.... and now they are like new. Better, they will last a few years till needing attention again.

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