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Thread: How To: PlastX Headlight Restoration (Step by w/ Pics)

          
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    Learning 97 Supra's Avatar
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    How To: PlastX Headlight Restoration (Step by w/ Pics)

    How To: Restore your oxidized, faded, discolored, or otherwise lightly scratched (or damaged by brake kleen) headlight lenses.

    By: Brett Robertson (97 Supra)

    You will need:

    1.) Bottle of Meguiar's PlastX

    2.) Sandpaper grit depends on the severity of your lens damage. Which ever grit you choose to start with, you must also purchase 1 sheet of the higher number grit paper - up to what ever grit you are comfortable with to complete the restoration process. (I stopped at 2500.)

    Example: If you start with 1000, you must also buy 1500 2000 and 2500.

    2a.) 1 sheet of 1000 grit (to start with when working on severely oxidized and yellow lenses.)

    2b.) 1 sheet of 1500 grit (to start on not so yellow, but very cloudy / faded and or lightly swirled/scratched lenses.)

    2c.) 1 sheet of 2000 grit (starting with mostly clear, or barely cloudy lenses)

    2d.) 1 sheet of 25000 grit to finish off with (or continue on to 3000 if it makes you happy.)

    3.) Any # pack of microfiber towels.

    4.) 1 flannel cloth - any size, just make sure it's easy to fold up and work on your headlight with.

    5.) 1 roll of your favorite masking tape, I chose 3M blue 1" masking tape.

    6.) 1 bucket your size and color choice don't matter so much as long as the container is large enough to soak your sheets of sand paper in, it will work.

    The Process:

    1.) Gather your supplies.



    2.) Mask off the light you choose to work with first using the masking tape. Be generous, you do not want to accidentally slip and sand your precious paint job.



    3.) Cut your different grit papers (1000, 1500, 2000, 2500) into workable sizes. Allow them all to soak in your bucket for 8-10 minutes to make sure they are saturated.



    4.) Remove your first lowest grit paper from the water (I started with 2000) and fold it in half. Choose 1 direction to sand in to start with, vertically or horizontally. (I chose vertical to start.) do NOT sand in a circle. Sand the lens until it is uniform, and looks evenly worked.

    4a.) Be sure to keep applying water to the working area via spray bottle, cup, or other method to ensure adequate water is being supplied to the paper which working with it.

    4b.) Be sure to dip your sanding hand, along with the sand paper you are working with into the bucket often as to flush the debris off of you and the paper.



    5.) Using 1 of your many microfiber cloths, dry the lens off to check for consistency in your work. Feel free to do this as many times as necessary to ensure you are getting a uniform surface.



    6.) Once you have dried the lens, and checked for a uniform surface, go ahead and change the water in your bucket. Place your other papers back in the clean water, and select the next grit paper. (I used 2500 now.)

    6a.) Fold the new paper in half, and soak the lens before applying the higher grit wet sand paper to the lens.

    6.b) Sand in the opposite direction as you did previously. (every time you switch grit paper.) If you started out sanding vertically as I did, you will now be sanding horizontally.



    7.) Sand in the opposite direction with your next higher grit paper as I previously mentioned. Keep rinsing off your working hand, and working paper. As well, be sure to keep wetting the lens as you are working as I previously mentioned.



    8.) Once you have sanded in the opposite direction with your higher grit paper, make sure the surface is evenly worked by drying the lens off with a new microfiber cloth. If necessary re-sand until the surface is evenly sanded.



    9.) At this point the lens is going to look cloudy from sanding, but not as cloudy as the previous grit left the lens. (see previous photo compared to this one.)

    9a.) Repeat the previous steps with higher grit sandpaper if you choose to for a finer finish before the following steps. (I did not, I finished with 2500.)



    10.) Heres where that oddball flannel cloth I told you to get comes in. Get out your Meguiar's PlastX and put a dime size on the flannel cloth. Apply firm pressure to the cloth against the the lens and in a circular motion work small areas at a time, maintaining firm pressure. Do not press so hard you crack or damage your lens, use good judgment, the more firm you press the better the polish works. Once you have worked one area, allow the PlastX to dry there, and work another area - repeat until you have worked the entire lens surface.



    11.) Once you have finished working in your PlastX, use another one of your fresh microfiber cloths and remove the plastX from the lens.

    11a.) To obtain the best possible clarity, you will need to repeat steps 10 and 11 until you have the the clarity you desire. This may get tedious, but the results are well worth it.

    12.) Once the desired clarity has been reached, remove your masking tape.



    13.) Once the tape has been removed, go ahead and place a generous amount of PlastX on your hand and work it in real good. Once the lens is completely covered, stop and allow the product to dry on the lens. This may take a few minutes depending on the temperature and humidity around you. (You may also work the PlastX around with a fresh microfiber cloth if you fear you might be allergic to any chemicals.)





    14.) Man we love some microfiber. With a fresh microfiber cloth, polish the lens clean using a fresh side of the cloth for your final swipe.





    15.) Make sure you have cleaned off any excess product, or sanding materials from the lens and stand back to take a look at the results.









    15a.) Repeat this process for the other headlight lens.

    16.) If you want to seal the headlights, choose the Meguiar's product of your choice and apply it at this time. I will be using some NXT liquid on my light to keep the newly refinished surface sealed and better protected.

    Disclaimer:

    This "how to" was my own personal experience. I am sharing it with you because I was very satisfied with the results. I can not guarantee your results will be the same, as your workman ship may differ from my own. As well, every lens damage is NOT identical. Some may turn out for better or worse. You just watched me do this to my 1997 Toyota Supra (It's 1 of 55.) New headlights would have cost me about $800.00. I spent about $15.00 on the supplies to end up with these results following the process I described above. Take that for what it's worth, and always detail using your best judgment.

    Thanks for looking, I can't wait to go for a night drive! Often the results of this (depending on the condition of your lenses prior to the process) light output and night visibility can be improved as much as 50%.

    - Brett Robertson

  2. #2
    Registered Member mudvayne9790's Avatar
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    Re: How To: PlastX Headlight Restoration (Step by w/ Pics)

    Great writeup very well written with clear instructions. By the way great job and results. I was just wondering, isnt it pointless to let the plastx dry? Great job

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    Re: How To: PlastX Headlight Restoration (Step by w/ Pics)

    Good show.

    I love PlastX.

    Glad someone else smears it around with their hand. I use it on my cell phone or watch and small items as such and use my finger to work it in.

    You don't need to let PlastX dry, Meguiars waxes are the only products that need to dry. When I did my headlights and taillights, I threw a coat of NXT on them.

    Look good as new.

    Aaron

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    ShineTech Auto Detail Hemin8r's Avatar
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    Re: How To: PlastX Headlight Restoration (Step by w/ Pics)

    Nice write up & pics. Great job on the headlights as well.

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    Registered Member AeroCleanse's Avatar
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    Re: How To: PlastX Headlight Restoration (Step by w/ Pics)

    Wonder how it stacks up against the Mirror Glaze plastic lineup.

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    Re: How To: PlastX Headlight Restoration (Step by w/ Pics)

    Some more information for this thread (which was very well done, kudos Brett! The lights look better than new!)

    FAQ: What's the difference between Meguiar's Clear Plastic Products

    Meguiar's Clear Plastic Products
    Here is the complete collection of products Meguiar's offers for working with clear plastics both by hand and machine.


    Mirror Glaze Clear Plastic Polish



    The finishing touch for maximum clarity and brilliance. Meguiar’s Plastic Polish provides the second step in our two-step restoration process for clear plastics. One easy application protects surfaces previously cleaned with our M-1708 Plastic Cleaner. You will reveal the materials natural brilliance, while leaving behind an anti-static coating that helps repel damaging dust and dirt.




    Mirror Glaze Clear Plastic Cleaner



    Safely removes hairline scratches, dirt and grime. Clear plastic that has lost its clarity due to significant contamination and fine scratches should be treated using our two-step process. Meguiar’s non-abrasive, alcohol-free Plastic Cleaner aggressively cleans and removes scratches without harming the surface. Follow up with our M-1008 Plastic Polish for a perfect finish.




    Mirror Glaze Clear Plastic Detailer



    A single-step solution that keeps clear plastic surfaces pristine. Regain the original crystalline clarity of plastic in need of restoration, using this convenient all-in-one product specially formulated by Meguiar’s. Simply spray it on and wipe it dry. You will safely remove surface contamination and achieve dramatic results on everything from window panels and instrument lenses to eyeglasses, CD's and picture frames.




    PlastX



    This easy to use, rich gel formula quickly restores optical clarity to both rigid and flexible plastics. Cutting-edge advancements in Meguiar's exclusive Microscopic Diminishing Abrasive Technology, (MDAT), removes light oxidation, chemical degradation, surface contamination, stains and light surface scratches with ease. In addition, because our microscopic diminishing abrasives breakdown as you use them, PlastX Clear Plastic Cleaner & Polish is safe on plastic rear windows on convertible tops, aircraft windows, motorcycle fairings, face shields, headlights and taillights, instrument panels, all clear plastic boat surfaces and aquariums. Meguiar's PlastX also contains highly water-resistant polymers. These specialized hi-tech polymers provide long lasting durable protection to keep your clear plastics clear and beautiful longer. PlastX is non-toxic and does not contain any harsh solvents.



    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    Meguiar's teaches the philosophy of using the least aggressive product to get the job done. We also teach that surfaces, in this case clear plastic, need to be maintained. Maintaining a surface is an ongoing process, not a one time procedure. Thus in order of aggressiveness...

    M10 Plastic Polish - Completely non-aggressive. This is a pure polish that is formulated to restore optical clarity and maintain clear plastic surfaces. M10 Plastic Polish should be used on plastic surfaces in excellent shape to maintain them, and/or after a neglected plastic surface has been pre-cleaned using a dedicated plastic cleaner such as M17 Plastic Cleaner, or PlastX. M10 Plastic polish leaves behind an anti-static surface.


    M17 Plastic Cleaner - M17 is a light cleaning polish for clear plastics, it is non-abrasive and and perfect for removing stains, light oxidation and other contaminants off the surface. It can remove very light scratches out of soft plastics when worked thoroughly but gently against the surface. After cleaning with PlastX, for maximum optical clarity and to leave an anti-static finish, apply M10 Plastic Polish.


    PlastX - PlastX is a unique plastic cleaner in that it contains a special microscopic diminishing abrasive that enables it to actually remove below surface scratches by removing small particles of plastic surrounding the scratches. After cleaning with PlastX, for maximum optical clarity and to leave an anti-static finish, apply M10 Plastic Polish.

    Besides your choice of product, your choice of applicator material can also effect the aggressiveness or gentleness of a product. Meguiar's Hi-Tech Foam Wax applicators are a good choice for gentle cleaning and polishing. For more aggressive cleaning and polishing, try using a material with a nap such as 100% cotton toweling, or our Even Coat Applicators made out of microfiber.

    Because clear plastic surfaces tend to be scratch-sensitive, remember that not only is your choice of product and applicator material important, but just as important is the quality and type of removal material, in other words, your wipe-off clothes or towels. For clear plastic surfaces, always use a premium quality microfiber polishing cloth, or a clean, soft 100% cotton terry cloth towel. Inspect your wiping-cloth before using to insure it is clean and free from contaminants and anything that cold instill a scratch into the plastic surface.

    When working on plastic surfaces for the first time, and whenever you use a product for the first time, it's always a good idea to test the product, your applicator material and your application process, (In this case your hand and your skill level), in an inconspicuous area. If you cannot make a small area look good with your product, applicator and process, you will not be able to make the entire surface look good, so test first to be an the safe side.


  7. #7
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    Re: How To: PlastX Headlight Restoration (Step by w/ Pics)

    It would be interesting to see how they look with some Mirror Glaze Clear Plastic Polish added to the headlights.


  8. #8
    Rasky's Auto Detailing RaskyR1's Avatar
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    Re: How To: PlastX Headlight Restoration (Step by w/ Pics)

    Wow! Those turned our GREAT! I read your other thread about how the dealer had damaged them before you bought the car...they look like new now.

    Good Job...and nice write up.

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    Learning 97 Supra's Avatar
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    Re: How To: PlastX Headlight Restoration (Step by w/ Pics)

    After I wipe off the NXT from my car (I just got done doing my second coat) I will see if I can find some of that mirror glaze #10 and get some photos.

    BTW: Did i post this in the wrong section? Should I have posted it in the how to section or will it get moved if deemed worthy? I wasn't sure where to post it.

  10. #10
    aka: 23jam J. A. Michaels's Avatar
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    Re: How To: PlastX Headlight Restoration (Step by w/ Pics)

    Hey Brett, Great write up and easy to follow step by step instructions. Your lense came out looking great. Nice work.
    quality creates its own demand

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