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Attempted Peeling Headlight Restoration

Discussion in 'Roadster: Technical' started by jimmyz80, Mar 20, 2015.

  1. jimmyz80

    jimmyz80 Member

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    Apex, NC
    I'm sure everyone is aware of the common problem of peeling headlights lenses that affects our cars, and I'm also sure everyone is aware of how massively expensive these crazy things are to replace...

    So anyway, my 2010 roadster had one of its peeling headlights replaced by the previous owner, and he kept the headlight that was removed. It was included with the car when I bought it, so I had an extra headlight to experiment with. I stupidly didn't take a "before" photo, but let's just say over 40% of the lens had peeled. The remaining original headlight on the car is now peeling, so I figured I'd take a shot at restoring it and see if perhaps I could re-use it.

    I ordered a 3M kit from Amazon as seen in the following link, and used it with an $18 electric drill I picked up from Lowes:

    Amazon.com: 3M 39008 Headlight Lens Restoration System: Automotive

    The kit contains sanding discs of varying grit, and the first (coarsest) pass is definitely the most time consuming. You have to watch closely as you grind away the existing UV coating from the lens, and you can quite clearly see the areas you've removed it all from, and the areas you still need to work on. There's a definitely color difference you can see as you're sanding away with the first disc. The remaining discs of finer grit are much quicker and easier to use. Anyway, below is a link to a gallery with some photos from the process.

    You can see that the final result is pretty damn good, although I'm anal and will admit it's not as good as I would have liked. I can still see some areas of haziness or fine scratches, despite many passes with the finer grit discs. But in any case, the peeling is 100% gone and from a distance the lens probably looks like new. I'm going to experiment with some LaminX film as a replacement UV protection layer, and I'm hoping the adhesive on the film may help mask the blemishes that bug me. If not, I may try to pick up a different rubbing compound to see if I can clean it up a little bit more, and then have an automotive shop paint spray on some new UV protectant.

    So that was tonight's adventure. Make of it what you will. :)

    BTW: The final images in the gallery show the restored lens next to a non-restored lens in an attempt to give a comparison of the lens clarity.

    Tesla Roadster Headlight Restoration - Album on Imgur
     
  2. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    Wow. You are a brave man to do that. Result looks pretty good!

    So far my headlights on my 1.5 built in May 2009 have not peeled.

    I assume the more exposure to direct sunlight the more likelihood of peeling? I think my car spent almost all of 2009 to 2014 indoors, didn't get driven much, and I keep it garaged when not using it.
     
  3. jimmyz80

    jimmyz80 Member

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    Well I figured I might as well do something with the headlight instead of stare at it on my garage shelf haha.

    I believe my car spent most of its life indoors as well, so I'm not sure what the cause could be. Humidity maybe?
     
  4. slcasner

    slcasner Member

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    Hmmm, I have my two standard headlights that were removed due to peeling and replaced with the HID ones. I hadn't thought about trying the headlight restoration kit.
     
  5. dhrivnak

    dhrivnak Active Member

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    Thank you for posting. It is good to know there is hope if the peeling begins. We thank you.
     
  6. shrink

    shrink Member

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    Wow. Well done! Can I send you my peeling one - I replaced the set with the Xenons - so you can get more practice? :smile:

    Seriously, though, let me know if I send you my peeling headlight for the jimmyz restoration trestment. It'd be nice to give my old headlights a new life. They have value as backup parts for a car no longer in production.

    I'll pay the shipping both ways of course and let me know what you think is fair for your time and effort. Or I can spend $10 and do it myself. :biggrin:

    Nice work!
     
  7. jimmyz80

    jimmyz80 Member

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    Honestly I'd say just take a shot at it yourself. It seems like it would be pretty hard to screw things up to the point of no return. I did it mainly as an experiment; not really something I want to start spending a bunch of time on. :)
     
  8. Bulldog Kyle

    Bulldog Kyle Local Vendor - Mountain/Southwest

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    #8 Bulldog Kyle, Mar 22, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2015
    Absolutely! UV exposure and driving/parking habits are directly correlated to lens damage (oxidation/peeling/yellowing, etc). Other hazards like harsh chemical stripping, roads salts, poor film, etc also play a factor, but prolonged UV exposure increases this exponentially.

    As long as you are careful and follow the correct procedures, like Jimmyz80 said, and you have time to fiddle with it or learn something new, you can definitely give it a go on your own.
    The best results will come from the least aggressive sanding/polishing technique (leaving the most amount of current plastic/glass as possible), in addition to a solid protection, once your done with all of your hard work.

    If you want to tackle this yourself and you'd like some more guidance feel free to PM me or, if you would all like, I can do a thorough overview on my process and you can emulate as you see fit.

    This is one of my more recent headlight restorations. Not the worst, but it'll give you an idea of what you can achieve.

    20141028_083544.jpg 20141028_083612.jpg 20141028_090509.jpg 20141028_095926.jpg 20141028_102718.jpg 20141028_113022.jpg 20141028_143826.jpg 20141028_143914.jpg

    Thanks =)


     

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