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    Thread: DIY: Polishing PLASTIC...like headlights and tailights!

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    1. Member
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      03-07-2006 12:41 AM #1
      POLISHING PLASTIC HEADLIGHTS / TAILIGHTS
      The original inspiration for this DIY comes from the metal polishing DIY, see http://forums.vwvortex.com/zer...age=1 for details. There's also this one, http://forums.vwvortex.com/zerothread?id=2246097, but it could use some step-by-steps with pictures. I was sick and tired of my yellow, scratched, banged up headlights. Unfortunately, I was so pleased with the results that I didn't wait for my camera to come back and did the other side. Here are the results.

      Keep in mind that my 2000 VR6 has 135k miles of highway driving. Yes, these are the original headlights. The DIY shots were actually taken of my g/f's Civic, so I hope I don't get flamed too badly for it. The procedure is actually easier on a VW because the headlights are a flat surface. Here is a before / after shot of the Civic headlights.

      Parts
      Since I didn't have any automatic tools, I simply used a lot of elbow grease. Air tools and the like may make the job easier, but I do know it works this way for sure. Net cost: Approx $25.00.
      1) Clean Terry Cloths (about 3)
      2) Painter's Tape
      3) Cloth Applicator (like you'd use to wax)
      4) 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper
      5) 2000 grit wet/dry sandpaper
      6) 3M Rubbing Compound
      7) Plastic Polish (I used Meguiar's PlastX)
      Tools
      1) Some kind of squirt bottle, filled with water and dishwashing soap (do NOT use car soap, it has waxes and such)
      Please be careful. Do this procedure at your own risk, I can't be held responsible if I have made a mistake in the steps.
      Examining your parts
      i. Before you start, make sure you have the above listed parts.

      Wetsanding from 600 to 2000
      1. Start by covering the edges of the flashlight with painter's tape. This protects your finish in case you are a little too agressive with the sanding process.

      2. Douse the headlight with soapy water. It is always better to use too much then too little. Once the headlight is wet, start sanding the headlight using your 600 grit sandpaper, continuously adding soapy water to keep the surface wet. You want to sand in long, left to right strokes using moderate to light pressure. The point is to uniformly roughen the surface.

      3. When you are done with the 600 grit, the surface should feel slightly rough, but you should not be able to see any surface blemishes. The headlight will look VERY hazy.

      4. Switch over to the 2000 grit sandpaper. Repeat step 2 with the 2000 grit. When you are done, the headlight will still look hazy, but it will be a little bit clearer. However, the surface should be totally smooth and free of any imperfections. Repeat steps 2-4 if there are still some surface imperfections.

      5. Dry off the headlight with a terry cloth. Here comes the magic. Using the 3M rubbing compound, apply a quarter-sized bit to a new terry cloth. Work the compound into the headlight surface using hard pressure in circular strokes. Frequently turn the cloth and continue rubbing until dry. This requires a LOT of elbow grease; you will want to work the headlight until your arm feels like it's going to fall off and then some. It doesn't hurt to go over the headlight 2-3 times.

      6. Then, apply the plastic polish. Using an applicator pad, work the polish into the surface using firm pressure and circular strokes. Once you have covered the surface, wipe clean any residual with a new cloth.

      7. Your headlight lens should be MUCH better then it was. I still had some slight scratches in the surface from the 600 grit wetsanding process, so I did the whole thing over again and there was nothing left.
      That's it! Let me know if you have any questions!
      Mike
      Chapter 11 Dubs: Member #001
      http://www.chapter11dubs.com
      -----------------------

    2. 03-07-2006 12:42 AM #2
      pretty cool [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

    3. Senior Member BHB's Avatar
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      03-07-2006 12:45 AM #3
      great DIY. [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]
      Current: 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.7 Hemi 4x4, 2015 BMW R1200GS, 2016 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD (Wife)
      Gone: 2010 Audi S4; 2008 GTI; 2007 Audi A6; 2004 Audi allroad 2.7T; 2001 Audi A6 2.7T; 1999.5 Mk4 Jetta VR6; 1991 Jeep Cherokee 4.0 4x4

    4. 03-07-2006 12:54 AM #4
      Quote, originally posted by bhb399mm »
      great DIY. [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

      x2

    5. 03-11-2006 07:43 PM #5
      nice i cant wait to do this, i bookmarked it on my browser so i can refer back to it when i finally get around to it! [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

    6. 09-01-2009 06:32 PM #6
      x2 thanks

    7. Senior Member idwurks's Avatar
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      03-07-2006 12:47 AM #7
      Def. need to add this to the DIY. [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/star.gif[/IMG]

    8. Senior Member BHB's Avatar
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      03-07-2006 12:50 AM #8
      Quote, originally posted by idwurks »
      Def. need to add this to the DIY. [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/star.gif[/IMG]

      added [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]
      Current: 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.7 Hemi 4x4, 2015 BMW R1200GS, 2016 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD (Wife)
      Gone: 2010 Audi S4; 2008 GTI; 2007 Audi A6; 2004 Audi allroad 2.7T; 2001 Audi A6 2.7T; 1999.5 Mk4 Jetta VR6; 1991 Jeep Cherokee 4.0 4x4

    9. Member
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      03-07-2006 12:51 AM #9

      Damn that was quick....estimated turnaround time 9 minutes flat!
      Mike
      Chapter 11 Dubs: Member #001
      http://www.chapter11dubs.com
      -----------------------

    10. 03-07-2006 12:52 AM #10
      Quote, originally posted by bhb399mm »
      added [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

      the link is messed up

    11. Banned Elvir's Avatar
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      03-07-2006 12:54 AM #11
      good job, that looks awsome
      Elvir

    12. Senior Member BHB's Avatar
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      03-07-2006 12:55 AM #12
      Quote, originally posted by elements757 »
      the link is messed up

      really?
      ....checking.....
      Current: 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.7 Hemi 4x4, 2015 BMW R1200GS, 2016 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD (Wife)
      Gone: 2010 Audi S4; 2008 GTI; 2007 Audi A6; 2004 Audi allroad 2.7T; 2001 Audi A6 2.7T; 1999.5 Mk4 Jetta VR6; 1991 Jeep Cherokee 4.0 4x4

    13. Senior Member BHB's Avatar
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      03-07-2006 12:58 AM #13
      Quote, originally posted by elements757 »
      the link is messed up

      fixed ... -2 user points from myself.
      Current: 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.7 Hemi 4x4, 2015 BMW R1200GS, 2016 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD (Wife)
      Gone: 2010 Audi S4; 2008 GTI; 2007 Audi A6; 2004 Audi allroad 2.7T; 2001 Audi A6 2.7T; 1999.5 Mk4 Jetta VR6; 1991 Jeep Cherokee 4.0 4x4

    14. 01-28-2010 11:52 AM #14
      great diy

    15. 04-24-2008 06:47 PM #15
      great dit, really cleaned up my front end.

    16. Member
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      01-21-2009 05:32 PM #16
      Worked like champ!! In my case I used 800 grit to start with then 1000>1500>2000 grit wet/dry sand paper that I picked up locally. Next I used rubbing compound (Turtle Wax brand) and finished with the Mequires polish. Just saved over $450 ny not haing toe buy new 2003 AE (Gti) OEM headlights like I was planning on

    17. 03-07-2006 07:55 AM #17
      i would do this if i werent gonna buy GLI headlights...but good writeup [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

    18. 03-07-2006 08:07 AM #18
      you, my friend, are awesome. thanks for a perfect diy. i'm doing this once indiana finally warms up enough to go outside for more than 5 minutes. for you.

    19. 03-07-2006 08:22 AM #19
      it did this. works really well. except i started with 400 grit --> 600 --> 800 --> 1500 --> and ended with 2000
      i used my porter cable random orbital polisher to polish in the rubbing compound and the plastic polish and it came out as good as new.

    20. Member vwtuner4ever's Avatar
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      03-07-2006 08:38 AM #20
      Only thing missing is how to polish glass lens

    21. Member
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      03-07-2006 09:57 AM #21
      I'm going to do this. I bought an extra set of used lenses so I could do them off the car first to see how they turn out. [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

    22. Senior Member tchristemac's Avatar
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      03-07-2006 10:13 AM #22
      Great DIY... looks really easy...
      LAMINX... [IMG]http://*****************.com/smile/emthup.gif[/IMG]

    23. Member
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      03-07-2006 01:19 PM #23
      Quote, originally posted by vwtuner4ever »
      Only thing missing is how to polish glass lens

      That's a difficult one. If the headlights are tempered glass like the passenger / driver side windows, then they will shatter upon application of the compound due to the heat generated by the process.
      Mike
      Chapter 11 Dubs: Member #001
      http://www.chapter11dubs.com
      -----------------------

    24. 03-07-2006 02:38 PM #24
      Quote, originally posted by vwtuner4ever »
      Only thing missing is how to polish glass lens


      do they get cloudy?

    25. Member vwtuner4ever's Avatar
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      03-07-2006 02:44 PM #25
      Nah not cloudy.. The idiot I purchased my headlights from tried to polish them why a compound, and its not as clear as it supposed to be. Id like to have them looking like new.
      The Lamin-X guys told me that if I apply they stuff on my headlight, those small scratches should disapear.
      But, yeah I think i am asking too much and will go with the lamin-x instead

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