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Discussion Starter #1
I know there are many, many threads about how crappy light output is on these trucks. I replaced my bulbs and it was much better, but not nearly good enough. I've been mulling over getting one of those kits from Autozone/PepBoys/etc., but most people's household drills don't hit a high enough RPM for them to work (hence the bad reviews).

I needed to change a bulb, so yesterday I decided I'd just do it by hand while I had them out.

Tools and Equipment:

  • Wet Sandpaper (400, 600, 800, 1000, 1500, and 2000 grit)
  • Meguiar's Plast-X, Cleaner Wax, Deep Crystal Polish, and Deep Crystal Carnauba Wax
  • Dremel with Flex attachment (Only use this if you have the one with adjustable speed)
  • Dremel 423 (2x) and 429 (4x) Polishing Wheels
  • Loads of towels
  • 6-Pack
Before shot:



Close-up:



First clean them off with some Windex (the ammonia will help strip off any residue) before you start.

Then cut up the 400 grit sheets into a more manageable size, and after soaking them in water for 5 or so minutes (I used an old tupperware container) start in on the headlight ALWAYS SANDING/MOVING IN THE SAME DIRECTION!!!!

I can't stress that enough. I went horizontally across the headlight as it also allowed me to stand it on its side, mostly so I could move around. Be sure to keep dunking the paper in the water to keep the surface wet.

Every couple minutes wipe down the light with a towel, and as it dries you'll be able to see your progress, and which parts you need to concentrate on. Once it seems like the paper isn't doing anything, toss it and get a new piece. I used a full pack of 400 grit doing both lights.

This is the the most time/labor intensive portion of the process as you have to get through the coating and down to the plastic itself. Took me about an hour to get to this,



Don't be worried, this is what it should look like (don't mind the crack in the bottom, its sealed) once you've got all the coating off and have a nice smooth surface.

Repeat with every grit up to 2000. This takes waaaaayyyy less time, and you'll know when to move up in grit once the paper slides nice and easy across the surface. I spent about 5 minutes with each one before moving up.

This is what it looked like after 2000 grit,



It looks about the same in the pic, but you can tell in person and by feel how smooth it is. Now onto the polishing.

After drying the light put some Plast-X on a terry cloth towel, and work it into the light. Take your Dremel (again, only if you have one with variable speed) and set it to just above 10. Any higher and you'll burn the plastic, ask me how I know... ](*,)

You don't really need the Flex attachment, but it makes life so much easier so you should probably just pick one up anyway. Using the 429 wheel, move slowly from side to side working in small areas. You don't need to push down or use much pressure, let it do the work.

If you tilt it the right way you will be able to see what areas you've hit in the reflection off of the plastic, and it will start to look like this,



Flip the wheel (so you don't mix compounds) and repeat with the Cleaner Wax. Then, using a new wheel go with the Crystal Polish, flip, and then the Carnauba Wax (remember what you used on each pad since you'll use them again on the other light). Once that's done hit it with the softer 423 wheel, and be amazed at the difference,



You may have to repeat the waxing and polishing again to get it super clear, but that's the general idea.

Now compose yourself and start on the other light...

Oh, and you WILL be sore in the morning. Trust me.
 
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I've had my headlights clear-bra'd since day one --- they look like new.... a decade later.
 

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I've had my headlights clear-bra'd since day one --- they look like new.... a decade later.
The first owner did this with our 04s lights. I did have to polish the clear bra a while back; it could probably be replaced now anyway. But the lights themselves are still perfect.

-J
 

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I use a one step cutting compound every two years or so. Works brilliantly.
 

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hi, first of all thank you for this nice write up,
i was planing to do the same on my 05 as i can notice tiny ''cracks'' and its hazed a bit :) but after 2000 grid wet send in going to clear coat them instead of buffing it out using compounds, and after clear coat i have to wait 5-10 days and than get read of the orange peel using 3000 grid trizact and high quality polishing paste :) i have done lot of research and i think its the best way of protecting them for long time, main thing is that i HAVE to find very high quality clear coat which will be NON yellowing and UV resistant, if ill find product i need i will be happy, but if i will be unable to find it here i will have to do it with compound and do it every year or so :)
 

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Problem is you need a UV coat made specifically for headlamps as you just removed it all. It will yellow very quickly and become dull. None of off the shelf stuff is worthy. I do have plenty of the real deal if needed. You just need to clean lens as you did, then wipe clean with denatured alc. and wipe on UV coat and cure in sun for 30 min. This is automotive UV coat, not paint UV coat or anything else. I have done a few customers lights and they have lasted for years without any issues. Just waxing will not fix the problem, you have done it this far but you need a UV coat to protect the plastic from yellowing/fogging.
 

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Hi Jason, i read your few posts about "proper" UV coat, but lot of things are still unclear, please don't get me wrong as im not trying to make it look like it will not work, but i do not have the conformation that it will.
I think you have to make few samples and show everyone why your stuff is better then others.
Kind regards, Nikoloz
 

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It will and does work. I mean what do you want to know? Made in the US, UV coat

You can try it and tell me. $30 for a vile. I can guarantee it is better as long as you do the procedure properly. I am not selling something crazy expensive here to have you question it as I am selling snake oil. I don't care if you buy it or not, I am only trying to help as I have gone through 1-2 of the off the shelf kits from 3M or others that do not work and do not last at all. Once I contacted my friend a automotive headlight expert, he turned me on to the UV coat I have now. I have done a good amount of headlamps with this UV coat including my own which have not failed to this day which is about 3+ years now. Off the shelf kits won't last long at all. It's a gimmick and provides short lived results and thus you're back to square one.

Features an OEM wipe-on coating. This headlight coating then cures and bonds to the lens with help from a UV frequency matched curing lamp

Cures in natural sunlight so there is no need for UV cure lighting

Coating lasts for years because it contains a UV inhibitor – this prevents light from the sun breaking down the coating

3 easy steps – clear the old coating, add the new coating, UV cure the coating

OEM UV coat specification and quality.



Completely cured:
 

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My Audi all road lamps done. They were awful before. Cloudy and scratched up as previous owner tried the 3M kit with no success. Now they are like NEW!
 

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I've had my headlights clear-bra'd since day one --- they look like new.... a decade later.
Odd. I put Lamin-X on my 2011's lights when I first got it. 5 years later the film had yellowed across the top and became foggy.

Not the easiest stuff to take off either as it had become brittle and a lot of the residue remained. Spent a few hours removing the old adhesive with a plastic scraper and mineral spirits, but lights were still as new as the day I bought. Another pair of Lamin-X sheets went on, guess I got my money's worth for it lasting as long as it did, although I'm impressed that you've gotten a decade out of your film.

Which one did you go with?
 

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Just remember that Lamin-x or others is not Optically clear and can reduce up to 20% of light output on the road despite their claims. I get using it though as long as you can deal with some lumens lost.
 

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After 10 years I need to replace my clear bra'd headlights. The tint shop told me it would cost 10-bucks and 10-minutes of my time. DEAL!!!
 

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I did this process and made a few changes.

The lenses were wet sanded with 400. This does take a while and you will go through maybe a page or so of 400 grit wet/dry paper. Then 600, then 800, and on to 1000. once you start getting to anything above 1000 the amount of material you are removing is becoming less and less. Remember to keep the paper and lens wet!

I then went to 1500, 2000 and finally a 3000 grit pad and about 4-5 minutes on each on of these grit levels. The lens cover will have a slight fog to it if you've done this right.

From here use Meguire Plasti-X to remove the slight fog. I've found you do not have to apply allot of pressure with this product. Just rub it in nicely and wipe away with a clean terry cloth towel.

I did try the UV inhibitor mentioned here and I had a few problems with it...first, you only get maybe an ounce of this product. secondly, about half leaked out during the shipment to me. third, There are NO instructions...nothing about drying time (it sets in less than a minute once it touches the lens) and nothing on what type of applicator or how much to apply is recommended. Needless to say in less than a minute I had streaks and smears from my attempt. Fourth, I put the vile away and tightened the cap as best I could so I could do my next headlight...It all leaked out by the next day. I have sent numerous emails asking for the information above and I never got any response. This isn't a bash or complaint...just feedback on my experience.

I have worked with a company in the past for "clear Bra" applications for paint. I have seen their products work great. I didn't realize they had a UV film for our headlights. The company is called Xpel. XPEL | Paint Protection Film this is a great product and not hard to install on the headlight lenses.

After I sanded off all the previous attempt to protect the lens. I mixed up a solution of alcohol and water, lined up and floated the film onto the lens, used a heat gun (I think you may need an extra set of hands here to make it easier) to start getting the film to contour to the lens and squeegee out the remaining water/alcohol solution from the middle outwards. The UV clear film is an exact cut for the lens so take your time to line it up, and keep your hands wet. Looks great, It will take a few days to get the remaining moisture to evaporate out from the film.
 

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I did this process and made a few changes.

The lenses were wet sanded with 400. This does take a while and you will go through maybe a page or so of 400 grit wet/dry paper. Then 600, then 800, and on to 1000. once you start getting to anything above 1000 the amount of material you are removing is becoming less and less. Remember to keep the paper and lens wet!

I then went to 1500, 2000 and finally a 3000 grit pad and about 4-5 minutes on each on of these grit levels. The lens cover will have a slight fog to it if you've done this right.

From here use Meguire Plasti-X to remove the slight fog. I've found you do not have to apply allot of pressure with this product. Just rub it in nicely and wipe away with a clean terry cloth towel.

I did try the UV inhibitor mentioned here and I had a few problems with it...first, you only get maybe an ounce of this product. secondly, about half leaked out during the shipment to me. third, There are NO instructions...nothing about drying time (it sets in less than a minute once it touches the lens) and nothing on what type of applicator or how much to apply is recommended. Needless to say in less than a minute I had streaks and smears from my attempt. Fourth, I put the vile away and tightened the cap as best I could so I could do my next headlight...It all leaked out by the next day. I have sent numerous emails asking for the information above and I never got any response. This isn't a bash or complaint...just feedback on my experience.

I have worked with a company in the past for "clear Bra" applications for paint. I have seen their products work great. I didn't realize they had a UV film for our headlights. The company is called Xpel. XPEL | Paint Protection Film this is a great product and not hard to install on the headlight lenses.

After I sanded off all the previous attempt to protect the lens. I mixed up a solution of alcohol and water, lined up and floated the film onto the lens, used a heat gun (I think you may need an extra set of hands here to make it easier) to start getting the film to contour to the lens and squeegee out the remaining water/alcohol solution from the middle outwards. The UV clear film is an exact cut for the lens so take your time to line it up, and keep your hands wet. Looks great, It will take a few days to get the remaining moisture to evaporate out from the film.
I am sorry there must have been a communication problem. I am also sorry for the issues. Please let me either replace the item, send you instructions or refund you in full! Thank you and sorry for the issues!
 

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I am sorry there must have been a communication problem. I am also sorry for the issues. Please let me either replace the item, send you instructions or refund you in full! Thank you and sorry for the issues!
Thanks Jason for the quick response and talking off-line to discuss the problems with our inability to contact each other. I'm looking forward to trying the product out again.

EVERYONE! Jason contacted me immediately to resolve this issue. There had been some issues with the web-routing of emails moving from one IP (internet Provider) to the next. I understand these as I have several businesses and moving from one IP to another is not always an easy process.
 
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