DIY: The Easiest and Simplest Guide to Refresh Your Headlights - RaceNotRice

DIY: The Easiest and Simplest Guide to Refresh Your Headlights

A DIY so basic that even your 5 year old cousin can do it!

Plastic headlights, the modern car industrys way to reduce cost. To be fair, it can be more durable than the classic glass headlights, but (there's always a but) with how hot the halogen bulb is as well as Malaysia's humid tropical weather, plastic will oxidize over time. This Toyota Innova is my fathers daily clocking almost 300,000km in 8 years under the Malaysian hot sun. He has been complaining about the headlights being a little dim so I took this opportunity to rectify the problem when he was overseas.

Things to prepare:

- Sandpaper: 500grit, 800grit, 1500grit, 2000grit
- Bucket of water (change when water turns cloudy)
- Spar Urethane OR Clear Coat spray + Mineral Spirts (mixed to 1:1 ratio)
- Lintless Cloth
- Car (Duh!)
- 2 hours

Tips: Don't premix the spar urethane like I did. It dried at the top, fortunately it didn't totally cake up so I had some to use.

Special thanks to CV Kit for the guidance and material!

1)   Give it a good wet wipe down - make sure it's free of debris and fine contaminants. Removing the headlight (or not) is optional. If you choose not to remove, be careful when sanding and tape off the painted parts of the car (bumper, fender & hood). I personally chose not to remove as I wanted it to be a quick job. If you do accidentally sand the paintwork, good ol' scratch remover can remove it easily and should technically not hurt your paint.

2)   Manually wet sand it. A good 3 rounds of full sanding with 500 grit sandpaper, left to right then top to bottom.

3)   When to stop? When you see the yellowish layer is reduced to a minimum. Don't worry about oversanding it, the plastic lens can take a lot of sanding before we even get through the top layer. Now that the yellow tint is almost gone, move down to 800 grit for 2 full rounds of sanding. Then finally move down to 2000 grit. I skipped 1000-1500 grit and it still finished great. 2000 grit isn't the 'lowest' you can go, there's 2500 grit but that's pretty hard to source and besides, 2000 grit worked out great.

4)   After sanding the lens will turn totally misty, but more importantly it'll look whitish. What you want is the yellow tint gone from the lens.

5)   Next apply the headlight with 1 layer of the spar urethane mix. Apply it in one direction. Alternative: Clear Coat spray it instead of spar urethane. Make sure you buy a more expensive/higher quality clear coat aerosol paint. Cheap ones are generally yellowish, not a transparent clear.

6)   After 3 layers. If you chose to use spar urethane mix, you will see application fine lines. Not perfect - yes. Everyone sees it - no.

I've been told that spar urethane lasts longer than clear coat. In theory though, both methods should be the same. Done.

Love your car then the urge to look after it will follow. - Bee