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OT -- Cloudy headlight repair
 

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BobB
Joined: 13 Jan 2004
Posts: 170
Location: Columbus, OH

5/6/13 10:24 PM

OT -- Cloudy headlight repair

My wife has been after me to get the cloudy headlights on her 2003 Odyssey fixed for over a year. I suppose I should go to some car forum, but my haphazard Google search didn't find much and besides you guys usually have the best answers anyway. If I were to try it myself, I think kits from Sylvania, 3M and Maguire's rate pretty well. Maybe the Sylvania has the edge because it also has some kind of sealer that might slow down future deterioration.

Today I noticed a sign at the local Sams Club that says they will do it while you shop for $29, guaranteed for 5 years. That doesn't cost much more than the kits and besides, I wouldn't have to do the work. Does anyone know whether they do a decent job? I am starting to see offers from other shops for $59, no obvious guarantee that I have seen.

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17129
Location: Portland, OR

5/6/13 10:30 PM

I used toothpaste and a polishing wheel on my kids 1993 Escort. If I spent more time I could have made them near perfect with wet sanding and very fine grit papers. But i just did a 3 minute job and hosed it off. Polishing tooth paste works best and makes your car smell minty fresh too! ;)

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Pat Clancy
Joined: 13 Jan 2004
Posts: 1350
Location: Manchester, CT

5/7/13 6:02 AM

Headlight restoration kits

Consumer Reports looked at four kits recently, from Sylvania, 3M, Turtle Wax, and Fast Brite. Their conclusion:

"All the headlight restoration kits worked to some degree on at least some headlights, but only the Sylvania could be used with all tested lenses. Further, the Sylvania product also provided the best and longest-lasting results. 3M provides similar performance at a lower price, but it carries the risk of scratching painted surfaces abutting headlights and should only be used by those comfortable with using power tools. Turtle Wax is the bargain-basement product of the bunch, at less than half the cost of the top-performing Sylvania. But neither Turtle Wax nor Fast Brite lasted as long as the others."

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bboston75
Joined: 16 Jan 2004
Posts: 365
Location: philadelphia

5/7/13 7:28 AM

Do you have to remove the lens to do this? When I look at the badly-clouded lenses on my 03 Highlander, it seems to be on the inside. An illusion?

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Wheels
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 1147
Location: Needham, MA

5/7/13 8:30 AM

Illusion....


quote:
Do you have to remove the lens to do this? When I look at the badly-clouded lenses on my 03 Highlander, it seems to be on the inside. An illusion?


Unless something really weird happened,the inside of the light is sealed.

Best approach to restoring headlights is to mask all areas (trim, hood, side panel, etc) around the light. Then, depending on how bad your plastic outer covering is, you will need to select what level of abrasive you need. I typically work backward, finest first. If that doesn't work, more coarse, etc until the light looks clear, then progress finer and finer. Use a buffing wheel on a drill to do the work. If your lamps are totally hazed over and frosted, wet sanding with 1000 to 1600 grit sand paper will greatly improve them. Then go to finer and finer polishing compounds until your desired results.

Should take you no more than an hour to do two lights, even if they are real crappy.

Once you are one, remove the tape/mask.

Wheels

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daddy-o
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 3257
Location: Springfield

5/7/13 8:50 AM

The fall before last I cleaned up the headlights on an '03 that had frosted and yellowed. I forget what brand, but it wasn't one of them mentioned here. It took longer than I wanted. From opening the package to drying my hands it was 1 1/2 hours, all hand rubbing. It had 3 grit stages and a polymer sealant. They are starting to haze a little again. Better luck to you.

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sandiway
Joined: 15 Dec 2003
Posts: 4902
Location: back in Tucson

5/7/13 12:36 PM


quote:
When I look at the badly-clouded lenses on my 03 Highlander, it seems to be on the inside.


Sounds like moisture must have made its way into the light unit.

I am not completely sure of the causes but plastics are typically sensitive to UV exposure over time and it also seems like humidity is not good.

Sandiway

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17129
Location: Portland, OR

5/7/13 12:42 PM

Usually, if moisture is inside the housing, longer periods of use you will see them appear to clear up.
Until the moisture condenses back to liquid.

Note: I bought some parts headlights for my Del Sol off Craigslist instead of de-coulding the origs. They sell new for like $285.00, I paid $80.00 for them. I get better/brighter bulbs, a lot more light projection, and un-aged polymers that are still clear.


there are also a lot cheaper offerings on the market than the ones I got.

http://www.carid.com/honda-odyssey-headlights/

http://www.carid.com/2003-honda-odyssey-headlights/

Pretty reasonable there...

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ErikS
Joined: 19 May 2005
Posts: 8310
Location: Slowing boiling over in the steamy south, Global Warming is real

5/7/13 3:09 PM

I used the 3M kit on my daughter's car a few years ago. Worked like champ. I just taped off the paint around the lights.

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walter
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 4368
Location: metro-motown-area

5/7/13 4:14 PM

big-boy sparky driving a...

...hot-wheel sized del-sol?!

man THATS gotta be an amusing sight!

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17129
Location: Portland, OR

5/7/13 4:49 PM

It is bigger in the saddle than the GEO that pinched my Femoral Nerve. Which is twitching like a MoFo after pushing my lawn mower around for 1/2 an acre I can tell you. A bike ride in a few when my riding partner gets home I am hoping will shake it out..

I had the top off on a store run and grabbed Elaine's Pink Visor with the pink ribbon to block the sun atop my Ray Bans, Now that had to be a something to see.

I caught myself walking into the store with it on and scooped it off....

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KerryIrons
Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 2974
Location: Midland, MI

5/7/13 7:01 PM

Oxidation chemistry

The haze/yellowness is almost certainly on the outside. This is due to oxidation of the plastic, some from ozone but mostly from UV radiation. If you live in Beijing the fraction due to ozone is probably higher :)

The plastic is formulated with both UV absorbers and oxidation inhibitors. The absorbers capture the radiation (act as sort of a molecular shield for the polymer) and the oxidation inhibitors react with the free radicals created when the UV hits the polymer. If the free radicals are allowed to roam they will attack the polymer chains and cause the plastic to weaken.

Any of these products remove the thin surface layer of decomposed plastic. Some apply a new exterior coating after the lens has been made clear from simple abrasion.

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sandiway
Joined: 15 Dec 2003
Posts: 4902
Location: back in Tucson

5/7/13 9:09 PM

Thank you Kerry for the professional explanation!

Sandiway

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