Sunday, August 13, 2017

Restoring the Truck Headlights with the 3M 39008 Headlight Lens Restoration System

      BEFORE                                                               AFTER

The headlights on the truck were just starting to get too scratched/fogged. Besides just looking ugly this greatly reduces the headlight's effectiveness. And for my truck, replacement headlights are expensive. But it is worth checking the price of replacement headlights before polishing yours!

I spent about an hour and a half polishing the headlights. Most of that is just taking my time with the procedure. I suspect you could do it in under an hour.
I used the 3M 39008 Headlight Lens Restoration System, about $14 bucks on Amazon.

Here are some pictures of the polishing process.

Before. If you enlarge the picture you can see the haze and scratches better. The lens wasn't horrible, but was well worth restoring. Note this lens is fairly flat so it is relatively straightforward to polish. I wouldn't try this on a lens that had bumps, shelves or ridges as that makes the process much harder.

After P500 grit. The first step is the hardest, emotionally, because the headlamp looks much worse before it starts to look better after the following steps.

After P800 grit. Just cut to a finer level:

After the 3000 pad wet sanding. Now it is starting to get clearer!

Now, if you are using the 3M Quick Headlight Clear Coat, you should skip the next buffing step, wash the headlight well, clean it with alcohol and go directly to clear coating. The clear coat needs the slightly rough surface left by the 3000 pad to adhere properly, and the clear coat will fill that roughness in. See the bottom of this post for more detail.

If you don't clear coat, buff away:
After the buffing compound and waxing. It looks great!
If you shine a light across it, you can see fine scratches from the polishing, but it is vastly improved from before the process. I've heard that that the lens may now deteriorate more quickly than a new one, as the factory finish has been removed.  We will see how long it holds up. But for $14 bucks and an hour and a half of my time, I think this is a great result. Note that the cheapest replacement headlamps I could find were over $150 a pair and would have taken at least this long to install.

7 month follow up
Still looking good! Just the slightest fogging in a few spots.


28 month Update! It's definitely tine to do the headlights again.

The polish lasted well for a year, and then by the 2 year date it was looking pretty bad. At this point, 2 years and 4 months, they are unacceptable, bad enough to definitely affect how the headlights work. They are not yellow, just foggy looking. So I'm redoing them today.

I am using the same 3M 39008 Headlight Lens Restoration System as last time, but I have added the 3M Quick Headlight Clear Coat, part number 39173.

This is actually a great kit and a time saver. The quick coat goes on after the 3000 pad wet sanding, so you never buff and polish the headlight. I think the idea is that the clear coat needs a slightly rough surface to adhere well.

Here is the headlight after the second clear coat.

It will be interesting to see if this lasts longer with the clear coat's "Extreme UV Protection".

No comments:

Post a Comment