Replacement headlight modules are expensive
Most of today’s cars and trucks cars are manufactured with a plastic headlight assembly. The front surface of these headlamp modules is molded polycarbonate plastic. Plastic for headlight modules is used for several reasons; here are a few:
*It’s much lighter than glass, weight savings is key to improved fuel mileage
*Considerably more resistant to cracks and stone chips
*Ease of manufacturing, they’re less complicated to make than glass headlight modules
The down side is the polycarbonate surface is that it is prone to hazing over, due to exposure to sunlight, pitting caused by small debris such as dirt and even salt kicked up by the vehicles in front of you. Once the surface of the headlight module starts hazing over, less light gets out to the road where you need it making night time driving, and wet driving conditions exhausting, even unsafe.
Replacement headlight modules can cost in the hundreds or thousands of dollars, not including labor cost.
Here at the Northwood Garage we offer a cost saving procedure/repair that will restore your vehicle’s headlights to like-new condition.
As you can see, we’ve taped off the area around the headlight module before we start the procedure. This is to protect the painted surface next to the headlight module.
As you can see the the transformation is quite remarkable. From start to finish it takes just about 1 hour for a simple pair of the headlight modules shown. Some headlight modules are more complex with additional curves and bumps, which can require up to 1.5 hours to achieve the like new finish and clarity. For less than $90 on most vehicles, we can restore your headlights to like-new, saving you hundreds to even thousands of dollars in replacement cost. Want to see how we saved one customer well over a thousand dollars.
Use our Quick Contact Form or call us at 603-942-8882 to setup and appointment.
Want to see how it’s done? Read below
Show & Tell
At the professional level the complete procedure requires two specialized air tools. The first is a random orbital sander. With this tool we use four different grit sanding discs, left lower corner of the tool cart draw. Going left to right,, the first two sanding discs are for dry sanding and last two are for wet sanding. The second air tool is a high speed buffer which is used in conjunction with two different foam pads for the final finish and polish.
With a cloth we wipe the headlight module lens clean and the painted surface around it. Next the painted surface is taped off to protect the paint. If you should attempt to restore your own vehicle’s headlight modules be sure to take this same step. Even more important.. do not perform this service to your vehicle in the direct sunlight!
The right tool and right sandpaper
The sanding process starts with the 500 grit sanding disc. Moving horizontally across the lens we sand until there is a consistent white haze across the whole surface. The goal is to remove any surface discoloration, scratches, pits and to get down to good fresh plastic. The pad that the sanding disc sticks to has a flexible foam backing that allows you to work the seams of the headlight module where there are transitions or contours.
The headlight lens is wiped down with a cloth, and with the same sanding tool we switch to a finer 800 grit dry sanding disc. The 800 grit disc smooths the lens surface out from the aggressive 500 grit disc. The lens may not look any different to the naked eye but there is a tactile difference in the surface as you run your hand across.
Wet sanding is just what the name implies; the sanding disc and surface being sanded are continuously wet down using a spray bottle of water. The same random orbital sander is now used with a 1000 grit wet sanding disc. During this and previous step it is important not to use too much pressure while dry sanding or allow the wet sanding disc and the surface of the lens to be come dry. Unintended scratches and bubbling of the lens can occur due to the heat created. Once our hands and eyes tell us that the surface finish is consistent, it is time for the 3000 grit wet sanding disc.
The 3000 grit wet sanding disc process really brings the new clarity to the lens. You can really start to see the change. If you look closely you’ll see what looks like soap bubbles on the lens. Those are actually small particles of plastic that are foaming up.
Now the real magic begins. Here we switch over to the high speed buffing tool. With this tool, we have two different buffing pads that are used.
The 1st step buffing pad is used with a fine rubbing compound. You don’t mix the pads or the products. The results won’t be as pleasing.
A little tip to you trigger happy folks out there…. don’t squeeze the trigger on the high speed buffing tool until you’ve placed the tool against the headlight lens module and rubbed it around a bit.
This picture was taken just before Jeff got that funny look on his face. Dan was the one that caught the heft of the flying compounded!
At this point we progress back and forth lightly with the buffing tool. The goal with the rubbing compound is to remove the fine marks left behind from the 3000 grit wet sanding. You may think there’s no need but these last 2 steps really bring the job together. Your hands and eyes will let you know that you’re ready for the final step of the process. A quick rinse and wipe dry, off to the last step.
With the final step of treatment we use a product called Machine Polish. This product is for removing the microscopic swirl marks left behind by the rubbing compound. You can’t see them but they are there. As before, we work the tool back and forth over the surface of the headlight module. This step cannot be rushed and it is well worth the extra few minutes needed. A quick rinse, wipe dry and see the results below.
You will love the look, and your night vision will be vastly improved!
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