Headlight Restoration in 30 Sec Flat!!!

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Introduction: Headlight Restoration in 30 Sec Flat!!!

I discovered this by accident as I was cleaning the fender area by the headlight for painting.
I ran a microfiber cloth, wet with lacquer thinner, across the area I was prepping for paint and I accidentally went over the old, foggy, looking like crap headlight. To my total amazement the opaque layer of the headlight came right out and was left behind was a crystal clear lense !!!
I made a quick pass over the rest of the headlight and I was astounded by the result. A second quick pass, (quick is the trick!), and the results are what you see on the photos!
I immediately did the same on the rest of my cars and 2 years later the headlights still  look this good.
I would recommend trying a small corner of your headlight before doing the whole headlight.

What seems to ensure success is:
1. Use lint free cloth,(I prefer microfiber cloth),
2. Use enough Lacquer thinner,
3. Use a light continuous motion and don't go over the surface again, until the solvent evaporates and the lense "hardens" again  
    (about 30sec).
4. Please, use proper hand protection, ie: Nitrile gloves, when using solvents of any kind. The long term effects of exposing your bare
    skin to solvents is nasty and irreversible!

Give it a try and have a great success with your project!:o)

PS: As an experiment to potentially improve on the original process, about a year ago, I applied a coat of clear lacquer varnish on an old headlight. I sprayed  the coat of varnish on the headlight immediately after I wiped the lense with the lacquer thinner, while the lense was still in the "green" state. A year later, with the headlight seating outside,exposed to the elements, there is no sign of deterioration, pealing or yellowing. I don't think this step is necessary but I add it here as an informative bit. :o)

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    26 Discussions

    0
    RobertM20
    RobertM20

    5 years ago on Introduction

    My headlights had scratches, pitting, oxidisation including yellow hazy discolouration.

    I tried DIY kits, and they failed.

    I friend tried the lacquer thinner techique and made a deep chemical burn across the headlight lens, which made me think this is too risky.

    I had my headlights professionally restored over 3 years ago and they still look like near new!

    The company I went to had several years of experience and a 100%
    success rate in restoring such headlight lenses. In fact, they have successfully
    restored headlights that have had chemical burns as a result of an owners experimenting with paint thinners to undertake a DIY headlight restoration.

    My headlights were returned to a very high lustre and had an
    OEM approved UV hardcoat applied to the lenses to protect them from UV light
    the elements. This replicated how the headlights were originally manufactured.

    I can recommend www.headlightrestorations.com.au

    They have a great deal of material about headlight restorations, youtube videos and a lot of material about headlight lamp upgrades, etc.

    0
    ivanbakas
    ivanbakas

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    I never had any problems with this technique over all these years, and I wilt not endorse nor suggest any commercial venues.
    The spirit of instructables is to share our DIY experiences.

    0
    ivanbakas
    ivanbakas

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    I'm sure there is someone out there that can mess up the simplest instructable. I have restored over a dozen cars since I published the inctructable with great results and no chemical burns, by following these same instructions.

    Testing a small spot can easily show if the headlight material is compatible with this method.

    Professional restoration has always been an option but that's not what the instructables community is all about. It's for people that like to experiment, learn new skills or improve existing skills and have fun accomplishing a task without the use of professional services.

    Always "play" safe and follow the instructions!:o)

    0
    JaneS38
    JaneS38

    Reply 4 years ago

    I tried this technique, however, as soon as i wiped it on, its clear for a second, and then gets cloudy again. I thought maybe it was too cold outside so I tried it on a 70 degree day. Same result.
    Any suggestions?

    0
    ivanbakas
    ivanbakas

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    Strange! I never had that problem.
    Try spraying the clear coat as soon as it turns cloudy .

    0
    ivanbakas
    ivanbakas

    Reply 3 years ago

    It sounds like your headlights might be too degraded or different plastic. Try another product and see if you have better success.

    0
    ivanbakas
    ivanbakas

    Reply 3 years ago

    Also you might try spraying a clear coat spray, with UV protection, immediately after you wipe it with lacquer thinner. Like: http://www.krylon.ca/products/uvresistant-clear-coating/

    0
    sean.finch.92
    sean.finch.92

    2 years ago

    I use rubbing compound dos help, and elbow grease ???

    0
    ivanbakas
    ivanbakas

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    I don't know. I have not tried that.

    0
    sean.finch.92
    sean.finch.92

    2 years ago

    I worked with thinners, and acedtone ,in fibreglass, for cleaning rollers and bruises, I broped my watch in a bucket of acedtone watch melted.

    0
    ivanbakas
    ivanbakas

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    Yes! Solvents are serious chemicals and as I mention on the instructable, USE NITRILE GLOVES!!!

    0
    theatheistreverend
    theatheistreverend

    Question 1 year ago

    What brand of Lacquer thinner did you use? Apparently there are several types:

    "Lacquer thinner is a generic name made up of many different solvents. This means that the formula for one brand of lacquer thinner may not be the same as the other. Some lacquer thinners are sold specifically for clean up while others can be solely for thinning. Using one kind of thinner for a different purpose may cause the surface of your furniture to worsen. It is therefore important to check that the product you are buying is made specifically for the purpose that you are going to use it with"

    0
    ivanbakas
    ivanbakas

    Reply 4 weeks ago


    Lacquer thinner is a product. Not a generic name. All the lacquer thinners Ii have used over the years have produced consistently the same result. As I recommend in the intractable steps, try it on a small area of the headlight before applying it to the whole surface. I would be more concerned about the change of material the headlights are made with over the years, than the brand of lacquer thinner.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lacquer_thinner

    0
    ivanbakas
    ivanbakas

    Answer 1 year ago

    For this project I had used the Lacquer thinner you see in the photo. The brand is shown on the upper left corner of the photo. It was purchased from a hardware store and I don't think there is anything special about it.

    Over the years I have used other brands of Lacquer thinner and even Acetone, with the same great results.

    Like I say in the instructions, use it on a small area to test results on YOUR headlight.

    The key to success seems to be the speed at witch you pass the soaked cloth over the headlight. Do it fast and don't linger and don't go back and forth!

    idealy you need to apply a uv protection coat which is why they have faded in the first place i do it for a living with a uv protection coat there good for 5 years min

    0
    Ruble
    Ruble

    5 years ago on Introduction

    hi , txs for your sharing the idea , this is same thinner which v get from hardware shops

    0
    ivanbakas
    ivanbakas

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Yes. Lacquer thinner.

    I was told that some brands of headlights respond better to acetone. I have not tried it myself but if for some reason lacquer thinner does not work for you, try acetone on a small corner of the headlight.

    0
    etcmn
    etcmn

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the idea. Need to do this on my van.

    0
    onemoroni1
    onemoroni1

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Another great idea! I use soft scrub and paste wax, but doesn't last. I'll have to give this a try. The best ideas are discovered by accident.