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Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-19-2015, 11:30 AM Reply   
My tow rig doesn't get driven at night very much. The other day I was driving at night and was somewhat surprised at the lack of light I was dealing with. I decided it was time to swap out the stock headlights for H.I.D's (high intestacy discharge) . The kit was $150 and a simple plug and play.

the HID kit made a big difference. It caused me to take a good look at my headlight lenses. Looking at them under normal conditions (daytime) they don't look that bad (they are clear) but they were starting to cloud but they didn't look like it effected or could effect my light output. But at night with the HIDs going you could see how clouded my lens's were.At night the whole lens looked frosted

I saw like no less the 6 different headlight restoration kits on the shelf at Pep boys. Everything from simple "wipe on" product to kits that had Sanding disks and compound. And knowing from first hand exp how most products that proclaim some sort of quick and easy "Restoration" don't do what I would consider a proper job.

I decided to get the 3m Kit that came with 600 grit 800 grit 3000 grit and a Rubbing compound and a polishing pad. All these pads and sanding disks attach to your drill with a supplied pad holder.
You simply sand your plastic headlights down and polish them. It's a pretty quick and easy job for anyone who has polished your boat or car. In fact you don't even need a drill or the kit. If you have the grits I talked about above and some super duty compound your in business.

I saw like no less the 6 different headlight restoration kits on the shelf at Pep boys. Everything from simple "wipe on" product to kits that had Sanding disks and compound. And knowing form first hand exp how most products that proclaim some sort of quick and easy "Restoration" don't do what I would consider a proper job.



This is the Kit I used
http://3mauto.com/products/headlight...kit-39014.html
here are the Pic's
Pic #1 is what I started with You can see the Fading starting at the upper corners of the headlight
Pic #2 Is it sanded 800 grit
Pic#3 is it after its polished

Last edited by grant_west; 01-19-2015 at 11:35 AM.
Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-19-2015, 11:31 AM Reply   
Here are the Pics
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Old    Jason (corerider)      Join Date: May 2008       01-19-2015, 12:15 PM Reply   
There are a few YouTube videos of people using toothpaste as well. I don't know if it works better than the kits, but is definitely cheaper.
Old    Billybob (BaadLS1)      Join Date: Dec 2013       01-19-2015, 12:35 PM Reply   
The 3M kits are legit. My dad and I have restored 3 or 4 different sets of lenses between the two of us and have had fantastic results.
Old    Brian (Ewok01)      Join Date: Apr 2013       01-19-2015, 12:46 PM Reply   
I'm a big fan of the 3M kit, but I added a few steps when I use it. I use 1000 and 2000 grit wet sand paper between the 800 and 3000 grit that comes with the kit, it helps smooth out the bigger scratches made with the course sand paper.
Old    Timmy! (timmyb)      Join Date: Apr 2007       01-19-2015, 1:22 PM Reply   
I need to do this to my truck. Do you think some heavy cut compound will be enough (after sanding) or is what they include something that isn't on the shelf already?
Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-19-2015, 1:43 PM Reply   
I guess the point of my post was to point out the ease of this project. Plastic has always been a tricky thing to polish. And when your talking about clear plastic that's even harder, but what ever these headlights are made of they don't seem to be subject to the same pitfalls of polishing as traditional plastic.

I to thought that the jump between 800 grit and then all the way up to 3000 was a bit much, I to thought that if you went 1000 then 2000 you might get a better finish product. So on the drivers side I did Exactley that I wet sanded 1000 and 2000 grit then I used the kit supplied 3000 grit and I didnt notice any real difference.

What I did do and they talk about it in the instructions is I waxed the headlights and that seemd to finish them off nicely it took a bit of the haze out of the final polish. Plus the Wax has UV protection and I'm sure lack of uv is what made them fade in the first place. Bottom line the kits are cheep enough a and IMO they seem pretty idiot proof so if you were thinking about doing this job go for it.

My only advice is tape off the edges surrounding the headlight real good. Even when your being careful it's easy to run the sander into the edges of your bumper and fender. And last tip try and hold the sanding disk as flat to the headlight surface as possable you don't wanna go on edge and make a flat spot in your headlight
Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-19-2015, 1:47 PM Reply   
Tim; the kits come with everything. But 1000 or 2000 gritt will take off the dull plastic faster and more even then compound only. My only worry would be that with compound only you would build up a lot of Heet getting the oxidized plastic off. The sanding knocks off all the dryed up hazy plastic real good then all your doing with the compound is making it nice and clear
Old    Timmy! (timmyb)      Join Date: Apr 2007       01-19-2015, 1:54 PM Reply   
Oh, I would sand first with the 800, 1000 and 3000, I already have some of the sandpaper grits and some heavy cut compound so I thought I might skip the kit and just buy the 3000 grit paper. Yours looks brand new in the picture now.
Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-19-2015, 2:37 PM Reply   
Tim that sounds like it will do the trick. Just to be clear the kit comes with 4 steps.
#1 600 grit
#2 800 grit
#3 3000 grit (this is a special disk) it's a 3m brand disk called Tri-Zac they refer to it as 3000 grit but it looks and feels Diffrent then real 3000 grit. It's some what pouris and spongy.
#4 polishing compound.
Now if your hearings just had a slight haze I could see skipping the 600 grit and going straight to 800. That's what I thought I was going to do on the drivers side. But my headlight even though it didn't look like it needed it, it ended up needing it.
Old    Brian (viking)      Join Date: Sep 2009       01-19-2015, 3:48 PM Reply   
Looks good! Now slap on some LaminX covers to keep the UV from fading them again!
Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-19-2015, 4:16 PM Reply   
Brian; I just checked the. Lamin-X covers for my Silverado are $59.00+shipping. I think the restoration kit was like $15. I think my truck is a 08 so I got 7-8 years out of them. But if I had a brand new truck/car that would be on my list. Thanks for the link.
Old    Brian (viking)      Join Date: Sep 2009       01-19-2015, 5:22 PM Reply   
yea they are not cheap. Even a good sealer on them every so often will help!
Old    Timmy! (timmyb)      Join Date: Apr 2007       01-20-2015, 6:58 AM Reply   
If the kit is only $15, I will just do that. I was thinking it was like $30 or something. Thanks for the tips!
Old    Jason Buffalow (buffalow)      Join Date: Apr 2002       01-20-2015, 7:07 AM Reply   
I have heard "OFF" works as well and seen some youtube videos on it. Good Work G!
Old    Art (rallyart)      Join Date: Nov 2006       01-20-2015, 8:28 AM Reply   
Thanks Grant. I always appreciate your project posts.
Old    Trayson Harmon (trayson)      Join Date: May 2013       01-20-2015, 11:01 AM Reply   
Grant, I'm really surprised that you put HID's into reflector housings. You seem to be the type that's a "do it right or don't do it at all".

HID's are meant to be in projector housings, plain and simple. In a reflector housing, the lights aren't focused and the brighter but more diffused light can actually be worse than just sticking with bulbs designed for the reflector housings.

Not to mention the fact that when you put a HID into a reflector housing, that you're not going to get that crisp cutoff that a true projector housing will have. The result? All the pissed off drivers that you're blinding. Yeah, the retrofit kits have "glare shields" or "casper shields" often to help with this, but it's still not going to get the cutoff like a real projector.





Old    John (blackstang)      Join Date: Dec 2013       01-20-2015, 11:15 AM Reply   
Quote:
Originally Posted by timmyb View Post
I need to do this to my truck. Do you think some heavy cut compound will be enough (after sanding) or is what they include something that isn't on the shelf already?
Sanded as mentioned above and then heavy cut compound followed up with some fine polish and you are good to go.
Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-20-2015, 11:20 AM Reply   
Trayson: Thank's for the Heads up. If this was my daily driver I might have put more thought or $ into this project but this Truck literally only drives a few hundred miles a year and 90% of that time it's done during daylight. Like I said b4 I had the truck for years before I noticed at how bad the lights are cause i never drove it at night.

I drove it the other night and I didn't have one person flash me. My other car has LED headlights and I constantly get flashed
Old    Jonathan Bay (john211)      Join Date: Aug 2008       06-13-2015, 11:03 AM Reply   
I'm going to do this again. My headlights are a lot clearer than before but I wasn't patient enough.

Is there a smallish rotary tool that is a lot more comfortable to be cupped in two hands than a hand drill?

If I'm going to be more patient, I will want to be more comfortable.
Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-04-2017, 11:04 AM Reply   
Hey I wanted to update this thread. #1 I have had what I would describe as "not reliable" HID performance. One of my cars has blower out 3 different hid bulbs.
Then my Tow rig (photos above) 1 bulb & Now 1 HID ballast is bad. ( it's a K light ballast ) it's not a cheep system So I figured I'm done with HID. 2 reasons #1 failure rate and #2 like it was said above putting HID bulbs in a NON projector reflector is 1/2 ass and it's not pleasant for on comming cars. If I would have know ahead of time that you need or should have projectors in use with HID bulbs I would have just stuck with halogen bulbs. So now onto what I'm gonna do or try next. I'm gonna try LED bulbs.
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Old    D (Cabledog)      Join Date: Dec 2013       01-04-2017, 2:35 PM Reply   
I have had issues with aftermarket HID light kits as well. LED's seem to be a little more reliable but I have had the condensers for my turn signals go out a couple times.
Old    Dave (bcrider)      Join Date: Apr 2006       01-04-2017, 3:19 PM Reply   
Do LED's not glare the same as HID's would in a typical Halogen housing? I've been wanting to do something as well as the stock lights in my F150 suck. I also had HID's in my old truck so I miss the brightness. And yes, I also went through a few HID bulbs over the years.
Old    John Bauer (jonyb)      Join Date: Nov 2008       01-04-2017, 8:24 PM Reply   
We've been dealing with the learning curve on LED's and HID's. We use Race-Sport and at the start we were just replacing the lamps with LED kits. They were much brighter, but very susceptible to voltage drops and would cause them to flicker. Then RS went through troubles where the Generation 2 kits were constantly failing. Most of the newer vehicles have canbus headlights so it's more than just dropping in the lamp replacements. We are now having to use specific relay and resistor harnesses and have found that in most vehicles the HID will be more dependable. Since we've started doing this we've had less failures.
Old    Jason Buffalow (buffalow)      Join Date: Apr 2002       01-05-2017, 7:44 AM Reply   
Im interested as well. I switched all of my vehicles to HID and overall am happy, but have seen issues. I just did LED fog lights on the truck and they work ok.
Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-05-2017, 1:01 PM Reply   
Dave good question ?
My instant thought would be no they don't glare. I might be talking out of my ass right now but this is what I suspected. The H ID bulbs throw off light in a 360 pattern
And that's why you need the projector to take all of that light and refocus it. The light coming from the LEDs is very directional much like a halogen and the stock reflector in a non-projector bucket will do the job but I will know more when I install them this weekend.
John thanks for your input. The operating voltage on the bulbs I got says between 8 V and 30 V and in all of the reviews I saw these ones didn't seem to suffer the voltage flickering. The only concerning thing I saw was one gentleman used a thermal camera and took some temperature readings where his bulbs at the backside were reading 187F that seemed awfully high to me for a product that supposed to last a long time. With that said the PPI amps in my boat get hot enough to cook an egg on and they've worked flawlessly for 13+ years
Old    Detox (bass10after)      Join Date: Feb 2010       01-06-2017, 6:28 PM Reply   
I have a feeling you're going to get a lot of light scatter which is going to blind other drivers and be somewhat disappointed with the output. The scatter shouldn't be as bad as full hid though... For hid i've used the retrofit source kits and they've been excellent. The first was my duramax and i retrofitted projectors as well. Its a big pain in the neck job but worth it. That kit worked excellent and never got flashed once even with the truck being lifted 6" and leveled out. Never had misfires or one light not ignite either. The second kit is on my 2015 yukon slt(don't know how they don't come stock hid in 2015) It has projectors which made the project a lot easier just drop in bulbs wire the harness, mount the ballasts and done. The key is using a relay that is triggered by the old headlight plug and powering the balasts straight from the battery. The inrush current when they start is too high to use the existing headlight wiring to power the hid. you'll get misfires and all sorts of problems. The retrofit source kits come with everything including the harness and relays, all connectors so its pretty simple. If you had projector lens you'd stand a lot better chance with the led bulbs but a lot of guys that have used them in hopes of ditching hid's have switched back to hid. They certainly would be a lot easier than having to wire relay's and ballasts as well as full light output instantly. If i was going to use any led i'd actually get it from the retrofit source too. Their house brand morimoto has been super reliable for me and their customer service has also been great. Report back with your results though, led headlights have come a long way since the first ones hit market.
Old    Detox (bass10after)      Join Date: Feb 2010       01-06-2017, 6:41 PM Reply   
heres some pics of the duramax
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Old    Don Christman (ktm525)      Join Date: Mar 2009       01-07-2017, 5:22 AM Reply   
Following
Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-08-2017, 11:42 AM Reply   
Here are the Bulbs.
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Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-08-2017, 11:43 AM Reply   
They have a Small fan at the Back of the Bulb.
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Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-08-2017, 11:45 AM Reply   
And this is the inline Ballast or some sort of power regulator 8-48 volts that's a pretty big swing
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Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-08-2017, 11:50 AM Reply   
Detox I'm kind of confused. In your picture above. The passenger side looks like a HID in the 4-6k range your drivers side Headlight is What? HID or LED? Hey
Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-08-2017, 12:31 PM Reply   
Passenger side is the HID and the Drivers side is LED. We are having "Storm-Agetton" here is CA tonight so I'll give them a good try out tonight.
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Old    Detox (bass10after)      Join Date: Feb 2010       01-08-2017, 8:13 PM Reply   
Lol i'm not far from you its been a wet day, but the worst of it stayed north of us. My weather station shows .67 in as of midnight til now 8pm. And the rain total for the year actually started over on the 1st btw.... I'm trying to think back to that picture i don't think i was testing two colors temps at that point. I believe it actually is sort of a lens flair because i was more straight on with the right side. In person they both matched the switchback led's perfectly and looked like the left side.
Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-09-2017, 6:10 AM Reply   
The LED lights seem to be close to what the HIDs seemd like. If anything the light seems more focused and less scatterd then the HIDs I didn't do a side by side comparison so it's just my opinion. But for now I would say by the fact that the LEDs are less exlencieve and the light output seems to be a tie the LEDs are a winner. One other thing the ballast is smaller and if your in a tight space you don't have to deal with mounting a large ballast.
I will report back down the road and if the LEDs out last the HIDs then they are the clear winner. A foot note the LED bulbs are a bit longer on the back side so just make sure you have enough clearance on the back side.
Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-22-2017, 3:46 PM Reply   
Well my comuter car (Prius) it's Headlights are starting to look haggard it's a 2010 here is the B4
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Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-22-2017, 3:47 PM Reply   
I decided rather then watch football I would get after sanding and polishing the Headlights will all the curves I figured I would just remove them.
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Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-22-2017, 3:48 PM Reply   
First step 500 grit.
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Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-22-2017, 3:48 PM Reply   
Second step 800 grit
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Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-22-2017, 3:49 PM Reply   
Third step 3000 grit wet sand
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Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-22-2017, 3:50 PM Reply   
Forth step Foam pad and rubbing compound Here I switched from a 12 drill to the bigger faster 18 Volt spins faster
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Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-22-2017, 3:51 PM Reply   
Last step was a plastic polish
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Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-22-2017, 3:52 PM Reply   
B4
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Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-22-2017, 3:52 PM Reply   
After
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Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-22-2017, 3:55 PM Reply   
Passenger side B4
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Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       01-22-2017, 3:56 PM Reply   
Passenger side after
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Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       02-13-2017, 6:01 PM Reply   
Ok embarrassing to admit I had no idea my truck had fog lights LOL. In my defense. The button that turned them on resets each time you turn the key on and off and I had never seen them in so I never payed them any attention. So after I figured out I had fog light Inturnd them in and the bulbs are so week you can't even tell they are on or off. So a few clicks on Amazon and $22 laters and I'm good to go
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Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       02-13-2017, 6:03 PM Reply   
Left is stock and right is LED
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Old    "G" (grant_west)      Join Date: Jun 2005       02-13-2017, 6:04 PM Reply   
Now all the lights are the same color.
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