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Body and Soul Discussion about the chassis and body, paintwork, cabin fittings, air conditioning, etc.

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Old 09-01-19
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Default Headlight lens restoration - your long term results?

The lens on my NW drivers side headlight is starting to look cloudy at the top so its time to look at one of the restoration kits.

Although its garaged at night, it spends all day in the sun at work.

I recently bought a Maguires kit to fix the lights on the Evo and they came up a treat. As the Evo spends the majority of its life under cover, I expect the restoration to last quite some time as there will be little exposure to UV.

The Pajero is a different story as its in the sun all day, almost every day.

I'd like to know from others how well their headlight restorations have gone and which products provide the best long term results for cars that are punished by UV all day. I'm happy to spend the money on a product or process that will last many years, rather than apply something every 12 months.
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Old 09-01-19
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Default Headlight lens restoration - your long term results?

Used a Maguires kit several years ago with vehicle in the sunlight all day. Worked well, but only lasted about 12 months.
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Old 09-01-19
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We do a lot of headlight restorations in my shop.


Basically, this is what you can expect:


1. Abrasive restoration only (sanded back with progressively finer grits and then finished with a buff): 6-12 months, depending on UV exposure. Good for selling the car or getting it through a roadworthy.



2. Abrasive with a wipe-on type sealant/protectant (typical of most kits): 6-24 months.


3. Abrasive with a two-pack clear coating: 10 years plus.


Obviously the costs vary and done professionally is usually more expensive than DIY but there is a difference in the quality of the job. Some paint companies are now making a clear coating specifically formulated for use on polycarbonate lenses and this gives outstanding results, especially when combined with wet sanding and buffing of the clear, to ensure optimum optical clarity.


Ceramic coatings? A urethane clearcoat should be applied with a thickness, when cured, of around 60Ám. Ceramic is around 1-2Ám. I don't need to tell you which one is going to last longer or have the UV protection needed to prevent UV from reaching the polycarbonate.
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Old 10-01-19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NFT5 View Post
3. Abrasive with a two-pack clear coating: 10 years plus.
2 pack sounds like the go then. Do it once, do it right.

Would it just be a matter of contacting a crash shop for this, or is it more a job done by a specialist detailer or touch-up guy?

Is there a specific product I should ask for?

Any recommendations for places in SA?
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Old 10-01-19
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I agree. Although more expensive initially it is a much better solution.


In my shop we use Axalta products so I know that they have a special clear for headlights. I'd be fairly sure that the other major manufacturers have an equivalent product but before Axalta developed their product we just used a really high quality urethane clear and have never had an issue.


You'd probably be best served by contacting a few local spray painters and asking if they do this kind of work (and have they done it before). Go with someone that can answer yes to both questions and understands the processes required to properly prepare the lens and then wet sand it after painting to ensure a really flat surface that won't distort the output of your lights.


We've been doing these for over 10 years so have the process pretty much sorted. However, I can tell you that we had some spectacular failures when we first started developing the process. Which is why I say to go with someone that has experience - you don't want to be their crash test dummy.



Urethane clears contain isocyanates which are extremely poisonous and need a proper paint booth and PPE for safe application. The painter needs to understand the need for care in cleanliness to ensure that no foreign matter gets into the clear. You don't want bits of dust/dirt/lint in the clear on your lights. No detailer would have the right facility and the mobile guys can't provide a sufficiently clean environment.
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