Tips in Repairing Your Car Headlights
Headlights are one of the most visible parts of your car. If you are one of the vast majority who owns a car that is more than ten years, then this article is definitely for you.
The trend in modern cars is to make headlight lenses from some form of plastic and not glass, as in the past. These are not only cheaper to manufacture but also lighter and in most cases, stronger. The drawback of this is that after years of driving, these lenses tend to become dull and opaque which decreases the effectiveness of your headlights.
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Fortunately, there is a way to restore these items to near showroom quality without the help of any mechanic. It must be stipulated however that what follows applies to plastic lenses only and not glass. Here is how it can be done. Invest in the best car vacuum you can afford before starting any repairs.
- Prepare the necessary equipment.
There are a number of kits available from auto part stores that claim to rejuvenate those old lenses and give them a new lease on life, but how do they work exactly? Firstly, you need to get a few things together, beside the restoration kit itself, before starting.
These things include a spray bottle with cold water or window cleaner, some masking tape, a few soft cloths or towels, an electric drill (depending on the kit chosen), some degree of patience and a certain amount of elbow grease.
The basic kit comes with a clarifying/cleaning solution, some sanding pads and a sealant for when the job is finished. The more comprehensive kits come with various items to make the job easier such as a buffer for the electric drill.
- Follow the basic steps in your kit.
The instructions included in the kits differ slightly from each other, but the basic steps are the same. Firstly, clean as much of the surface dirt off the lens as possible. Use the window cleaner or just plain soapy water and dry thoroughly.
Secondly, use the masking tape to tape off all the painted areas in close proximity to the headlight. You don’t want to accidently damage your car’s paintwork while sanding the lens.
Thirdly, use the spray bottle filled with water and the first piece of sanding paper to thoroughly wet the lens. The kits usually contain numbered pieces depicting the order in which the sanding paper must be used, from the roughest to the smoothest grit.
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Fourthly, using a side to side action and applying firm pressure, rub the entire lens surface with the sanding paper until a glazed finish is achieved. It is important to keep the lens and the sanding paper wet during this stage.
Fifthly, move on to the next number in the sanding paper sequence. However, this time, use an up and down action whilst sanding while keeping the paper and lens wet. The process up to this point can take anything from ten to thirty minutes depending on how bad the lens was to start with. Certain kits come with more grades of sanding paper and so involve a bit more sanding.
- Finish by polishing the lens.
Thoroughly dry the lens with a cloth or towel. Then, apply a small amount of the provided polishing compound to the applicator or buffing pad. Rub continuously back and forth until the glaze starts clearing. This should happen almost straight away with a marked improvement in the clarity of the lens.
Dry the lens again with a soft cloth and once you are happy with the finish you have achieved, apply a small amount of the sealer onto a new application pad or cloth and rub in on the lens. Some kits come with the sealer already impregnated in an application cloth. Allow the sealant time to sit undisturbed for a few hours until thoroughly dry.
Use the best car vacuum to tidy up while you wait for the sealant to dry and only then remove the masking tape. You should be left with a new durable protective layer and brand new looking headlights.
The good news is these kits can save you a sizable amount of money if you do the job yourself as opposed to getting a professional to do it. Not only that, the kits can be used for other plastic lenses too such as tail lights, side repeaters and fog lights.