Using rubbing and polishing compounds on headlights

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Jan 20, 2017
I've always let my headlights get too far where I've had to use wet sandpaper of various grades, 1500, 2000, 3000, to get them clear. Last week after using the 2000, I couldn't find my 3000 sandpaper, I used Meguiars #18 plastic polish, used on convertible windows and such, on the headlights using my cheapee $50 buffer. Wow, I was shocked how well it worked. Cleared them right up. That got me thinking. Instead of using fine wet sandpaper, how would using rubbing and or polishing compound on the headlights followed with the Meguiars Plastic Polish? The Turtle Wax rubbing and polishing compound I have says clear coat safe.
You can certainly try it. I have always used sandpaper, although even with plastic uv protector being reapplied, the headlights seem to keep getting foggy again.. they last maybe 8-9 months if that.. and then i need to redo them again...
Buffing them after sanding gives the best results, after buffing wipe them down with alcohol and clear coat them, it will last years
I just did a quicky on the '88 Big Bronco with pretty badly fogged and dull lights. Folks were flashing me at night. I used 0000 steel wool and Semi-Chrome polish because I had it. Followed by Meguiers Mirror Glaze (#18, I think...) and they came out nice. It was just a quick "let's see what happens" kinda thing ... So now I'll have to work on them a bit more as time passes smile
I have tried various compounds and buffing products as well as the sealers. I don't like to say it but after about 4 months the yellowing and hazing comes back. My 2012 Civic has started to haze over and I buff it out and it still doesn't look quite right. For some reason there is no permanent fix for this other than buying new headlights with the lenses.
Originally Posted by Trav
Buffing them after sanding gives the best results, after buffing wipe them down with alcohol and clear coat them, it will last years
+1. I did this a few years ago (clear coating) after a year or two of continually having to re-polish them. In three years I have not had to touch them and they look fine.
Its been my experience on more than vehicle that once you compromise the original UV finish on the plastic headlamps nothing last to replace the original protective coating. Sanding exposes raw plastic that even with the coating they sell holds up only a few months at best. Sometimes the inside of the lens yellows and get cloudy as well.
2K and UV clear is far better than the thin clear coat they put on OE, I have some done with 2K that were done 7 years ago and look like new.
There is not a clear available that will be better than the OE coating on the headlights, shop sprays 8-10 headlights a week and we let the customer know this in advance.
Use Mothers Mag and Wheel polish with a dual action polisher and you will clean them right up. Then you could spray them with a clear coat containing UV protection.
To restore, best to use wet sand paper till smooth and clear. Then coat with a solid clear coat of your choice. If you use rubbing or polishing products, those have oils and other "wonder" items that will make the lens look ok till it wears off. Then you are back to a haze. slomo
I'd wet sand to 1500 grit, clean it well, then apply a UV cure clearcoat, cure it, then buff that. Worked well but I can't comment on the longevity past 2 years.
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