Polishing Head/Tailights

Discussion in 'Car Detailing Product Discussion' started by Shooter McGavin, May 22, 2013.

  1. Shooter McGavin

    Shooter McGavin Virgin Detailer

    Hey guys, I've been doing a ton of reading on this site and cant wait to get into my first full detail, DD order comes in Friday!

    I've got a question about how much cut is necessary for headlights and taillights. I was reading one thread about an E55 AMG wagon that had some swirling in the headlights but the lenses were still clear. The OP wet sanded starting at I think 400 grit and worked up to 1500. It seems like that's a little overkill for mostly fine headlights. Is wet sanding always necessary for headlights or could you just polish out those swirls?

    I have a GG 6" DA with a Megs MF cutting pad, Uber Green polishing pad, Menz FG400 and SF4000. Could I use what I have to polish out headlight swirls or do i not have enough cut? Also can Sonax Polymer net shield be used to seal the headlights after?

  2. Shooter McGavin

    Shooter McGavin Virgin Detailer

    Bump, anyone have some tips?
  3. Darklol

    Darklol Any Rag Vehicle Washer

    Hi Shooter!!

    On my 2000 Celica the headlights were very foggy (yellowish) and I've used the following:

    Step 1: M105 + Purple Wool Pad
    Step 2: M205 + Orange Pad
    Step 3: SF4000 + White Pad

    Once in a while when I see its starting to come back I just redo step 3.

    Sorry I didn't take before and after shots but hope that helps.
  4. JoeyV

    JoeyV Welcome to Detailing

    It is not always absolutely necessary to sand headlights, but it does make getting rid of deeper scratches and pits much faster. The process Darklol wrote is pretty much what you'll need to get them polished to proper clarity afterwards, but I would add a final step: Opti-Coating the lens once it's perfect. this will prevent it from yellowing again later on.
  5. Tweaked

    Tweaked Two Bucket System Washer

    Use your MF cutting pad, with Menz FG400... use on a higher speed setting...

    Then use the polishing pad with SF4000...

    Seal with wax or sealant of your choice :)
  6. Darklol

    Darklol Any Rag Vehicle Washer

    What kinda of sealant do you guys use ? Would Power Lock be fine on headlights and will it last as long on plastic ?
  7. Shooter McGavin

    Shooter McGavin Virgin Detailer

    Thanks for the tips! I just picked up a 2000 Subaru and the fog lights are pretty beat so I don't think the MF cutting pad will get the job done. What series of grits you guys recommend? Also once the wet sanding is finished is the two step process I've got above enough to clear them up or do I need to add a third?
  8. ACE2790

    ACE2790 Jedi Nuba

    You should be fine doing the two step you have listed
  9. GloomyX

    GloomyX Birth of a Detailer

    I believe the MF pads will do its job just fine after the wetsanding stage.
  10. Stokdgs

    Stokdgs Detail Master

    Unless the lenses are very pitted and trashed, sanding is probably overkill. You have to use successively finer grits up to 3000 to get it better to polish out the sanding scratches.
    I always use meguiars 105 compound on really scratched ones with a foam pad or even a purple foam wool pad and have great success getting them clear again.
    You have to decide - how much clarity do you want before you are good ? Perfect ? Almost perfect? etc....
    I would do anything to avoid sanding and the more laborious compounding routines in my shop. I can still get really, really, clear headlight and taillight lenses with what I mentioned above.

    Good luck with your project !
    Dan F
  11. supercharged

    supercharged DB Forum Supporter

    If you are going to wet sand, start with 1000. then 1500 and then 2000/2500. Then compound, polish, and jewel. And then remember to apply Opti-Lenz to preserve all that hard work.
  12. kaiten408

    kaiten408 Jedi Nuba

    When I do wetsand, which I don't always do, only when it's really bad, I'll start with 1500 grit then go with 2500 grit followed by a nice polish and sealant.

    I don't think that Sonax Polymer Net Shield will work on plastic, I remember someone asking about putting it on glass and phil said that it should be used there, but I'm not 100% sure on that.
  13. UniqueAutoKraft

    UniqueAutoKraft Any Rag Vehicle Washer

    For me, if a headlight is completely yellow, like to the point where you can't see the bulb I do this.

    1500 trizact
    3000 trizact
    5000 trizact
    3M Perfect-It Number 2 Machine Polish
    Any sealant really...

    You can start less coarse for the level of oxidation. All steps are wet in order to reduce cut time and material use. I've never had a set of lights I couldn't get the outside of the lens clear on. Some lights will develop a leak from pressure washing or taking them through the tunnel wash, and will burn on the inside, you can use the same polish steps on the inside of the lens.

    EDIT: Guess i should also note, I use a Rupes RA75 or 3M 3" DA with a 3M 3" backing plate for this.
  14. abscissa

    abscissa Virgin Detailer

    In the past when i have done them at work ive hit them with 600, 1500, 3000 then polish. i just use a DA for the whole process, usually the headlights are already out of the car when i do it. so it's easier to get any corners
  15. Shooter McGavin

    Shooter McGavin Virgin Detailer

    Thanks for the help guys! I'll start with compounding them and see where it gets me and go from there.
    Paul S likes this.
  16. kaiten408

    kaiten408 Jedi Nuba

    I've always used my Hitachi power drill (corded) for polishing headlights and taillights, using 4 inch pads. I prefer having the trigger so I can adjust RPM on the fly, and find it fits better in tight places than my GG.
  17. UniqueAutoKraft

    UniqueAutoKraft Any Rag Vehicle Washer

    In a production environment, this could be a good way to do it. Sadly skipping from 600 to 1500 means you're not leveling the deepest sanding scratches, only those that are shallow enough for the effective working time of p1500. But again, there's production, and then there's a quality target. Going super thorough isn't going to make you money quick, but if you've got a lot full of cars, there are better ways to attack it!
  18. BraveSTi

    BraveSTi New Member

    You can polish & seal all day- eventually they'll get dull again. My humble suggestions is get a professional clear-coat spray, post polish.

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