Headlights on this 1999.5 VW Golf are heavily clouded. I’ve been planning on replacing / restoring them for quite a while. I saw a pair on craigslist that were a match, and jumped at the chance!
STEP ONE: BUYING THE WRONG HEADLIGHTS!
well, not much to add there. I bought a used pair of Jetta ( not Golf ) Headlights. I wish I had a good reason for that fuck up, but I don’t. Typical lack of attention to detail.
STEP TWO: RATIONALIZATION
ok, so now these are going to be “practice” lights, so I can try and polish them up BEFORE I attempt to do it on the real lights. This is an ok idea. The basics of polishing headlights are
- Tape off, or remove, headlights
- Wet Sand your way from 600 grit to 2000+ grit.
- Polish / Buff
- Admire work!
There are plenty of youtube videos on this, and they are all pretty similar, and it looks pretty easy, right?
Here is a cool McGuires one, that talks about using their cutting / polishing agent at the end.
STEP THREE: SOMETHING IS MISSING
After watching a few of these, I started running into videos where people talk about using 600 grit at first to get all the Clear Coat off. However none of the videos I was watching talks about restoring the clear coat afterwards. That is a red light.
Reading up on a few forums, I saw people asking about how to clear coat. apparently if you DONT clear coat, your lenses fade/haze again super fast. I don’t know if I am missing something in the previous videos, or if the companies selling these headlight restoration kits are deliberately leaving off the clear coat at the end.
STEP FOUR: FURTHER DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
Ok, so now I’m looking for clear coating videos… This seems pretty easy, dude just uses a spray can
But I see a lot of bitching about just using a spray can clear coat – poor application, runs, burns off easily, etc…. So what is the best way? Which product to use? Time to enter the forums…
oh look, a 100 FUCKING PAGE THREAD ON THIS METHOD, that spans several years. No quick answers here. But I do at least find a summary of 2 methods here:
And… this is where I start to tap out, when we talk about mixing custom urathane and what not. I do find a nice video showing some pros restoring headlights, and adding some clear coats.. however my inability to understand some of what they are saying, scares me off. This is probably the method I want to use – remove lights from car, hand sanding, then pressurized sprayer to get nice even coats. But it is looking like a fucking production by this point.
STEP FIVE: THE ALTERNATIVE THAT ISNT
So rather than spending an entire afternoon mixing up different batches of clear coat, setting up a spray area, etc etc.. how about I just replace the lenses! I don’t even need to swap out the whole thing… just some nice new snap on lenses.
Lovely video on how easy that is!
Heat gun! Silicone Caulk! yeah I’m out.
STEP SIX: LIVE TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY
Simply too much work, when I can go buy a NEW, already clearcoated, ready to go set of Bora lights on ebay for $80 shipped. But what I thought would be a simple, and rewarding project has turned into a complex mess, with lots of room for me to fuck things up.
Project Completed: -20
Money Spent: $40 for used headlights, $15 for a buffer, $80 for a new set of headlights
Time Taken: 2-3 hours of watching videos
So yeah, it’s looking like a bad loss, but if I had moved forward It would have looked like this:
Project Completed: +50
Money Spent: $40 for used headlights, $15 for a buffer, $70 for misc rubbing compounds, polishes, clear coat.
Accidental scratches on car from shitty job taping it off: yes
Times spraying own face with new air compressor toys: 2
Toxic Fumes Inhaled: +.0005% cancer
Quality of final project: Maybe Meh, Maybe Awesome? Will never know!
Time Taken: 8 hours or more
So it is hard to walk away, especially with those stupid headlights I bought and can’t use, but fuck this. Hopefully installing the new lights won’t be nearly as much of a chore.