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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

So I read a few posts, watched a few youtube vids and dove in. Sanding successfully got rid of some oxidation, mostly on the top part of the headlight. I've attached a picture after 800 grit wet sand, and another picture after follow up with 1000 and 2000 wet sand in perpendicular directions.

My problem is that after the sanding, I did a quick rub with polish, but didn't buff it to a shine, then applied 3 coats of UV protectant (Duplicolour clear coat). Was I supposed to buff it to clear shine before applying the sealant???

From the videos I watched, it looked like it was normal to have some uniform cloudiness after the sanding and polishing, and that the clear coat would clear it up, almost like magic! But it' been about half a day since I applied the clear coat on, and it doesn't look clear, and has a little orange peel.

Are you supposed to polish (or use rubbing compound) until it's totally clear before applying sealant? I realize now that I don't think that was clear in any instructions I look at. Thanks.


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522099
 

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^^vv<><>BA
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From the videos I watched, it looked like it was normal to have some uniform cloudiness after the sanding and polishing, and that the clear coat would clear it up, almost like magic! But it' been about half a day since I applied the clear coat on, and it doesn't look clear, and has a little orange peel.

Are you supposed to polish (or use rubbing compound) until it's totally clear before applying sealant clear coat?
Yes.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I don't know of you're trying to be funny, but that's super unhelpful.

So the guides make it sound like the sealant will help provide clarity.

If that's wrong, what's the correction? I'm assuming one is supposed to actually polish it to be completely clear before sealant. That's really not what it looks like from the videos, things clear up more after the coating.

What's the correction?
 

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I don't know of you're trying to be funny, but that's super unhelpful.

So the guides make it sound like the sealant will help provide clarity.

If that's wrong, what's the correction? I'm assuming one is supposed to actually polish it to be completely clear before sealant. That's really not what it looks like from the videos, things clear up more after the coating.

What's the correction?
Why is it "super unhelpful?"

You asked "Are you supposed to polish (or use rubbing compound) until it's totally clear before applying sealant?"

and I answered "Yes"

A "Yes" means headlight lens is suppose to be "totally clear" before you apply a sealant or clear coat.

Furthermore, sealant =/= clear coat , though a sealant will work (the "Duplicolour clear coat" you applied is not a sealant). A clear coat (preferably 2K clear coat, not Duplicolor which is 1K because a 2K clear will give better UV protection, resists chips/scratches better, and has better gloss) lasts longer than a sealant.

And if you're doing everything by hand, you're not going to get as good results compared to a machine polisher.

 

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I've used Meguiar's PlastX to successfully polish the headlight lenses. A tip to prevent any further damage is to put 3M film on the lenses, it keeps the headlights looking like new. I always recommend it to anyone buying a new car but I did the same to my Accord when I bought it used. It stopped the little deterioration I had in its tracks.
 

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Like others have stated, the clear coat is for protection...it's not a substitute for the surface being polished.
Just like a car's finish, you don't put clear coat on unless the paint is smooth and blemish free.
 

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The correction is that you're going to have to do the whole thing over again. I've had excellent luck with the 3M "heavy duty" kit with the drill attachment. Before and after of my previous car:
522101
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If you have a drill, get the 3m kit and redo the whole thing. To seal it use 2k clear, be sure to wear a respirator using 2k clear.



Sent from my Pixel 2 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hoooooomigosh......so here's where I'm at:

I took off the clearcoat, actually should have gone down to 600 grit because it was stuck on harder than the old 12 year old coating.

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Anyway, went through 800-1000-2000 wet sand again. Then I got myself a drill attachment and used rubbing compound then polish. I've seen some people do it, wanted to be diligent. And this time, it did come out nice and clear:

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I was proud. But that's where the critical error came in. I put on clear coat again, and now here's my disclosure, I used this garbage right here, Dupli-Color clear: https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/dupli-color-perfect-match-auto-paint-clear-top-coat-8-oz-0472523p.html

I read about it here: Best Automotive Clear Coats: Touch Up Your Vehicle. I'm not using a 2 part with activator, this one was not the best but I guessed OK, not too expensive about $18 (Canadian) and available locally. This was supposed to be a nice simple Sunday afternoon refresh, I've been on a clean-the-car kick lately, got a shop vac and everything.

Anyway, this garbage totally made my beautiful polishing job look terrible. I was hoping it would clear up overnight, but it didn't. I'm so annoyed.

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It's got this fine speckled look...and it's not more clear. It's like a textured finish. I sprayed lightly, just like I've seen in videos. But it's TERRIBLE.

Not the kind to give up, I'm going to have to sand off the clearcoat, do the sanding again, polish it up, and find a better clear coat. Hopefully all this sanding isn't going to permanently screw up the lens. But I don't think I can leave it like this, it's actually worse now than when I started because most of the original oxidation as on the top of the light, but I was obviously going to do the whole thing. The front was OK clear, now it's less clear....

I've seen videos of people using Meguiar's Perfect Clarity (https://www.canadiantire.ca/en/pdp/meguiar-s-perfect-clarity-2-step-headlight-kit-0391007p.html) and it looks like magic. They didn't even polish as well as I did, but when they spray on the coating, it gets MORE clear. This is available locally. Supposedly lasts up to a year, I can spray a new coat every year, hoping I don't need to sand again.

It seems I might be able to get USC Spray Max 2K locally too. https://www.napacanada.com/en/p/MAX3680061. How long does this last? Does it protect against UV? It looks like the Meguiar's is specifically made for headlights, I would think that's better?

Seriously, I just wanted to relax with a nice simple job, and now I'm on my 3rd try. That Duplicolor garbage....I wouldn't use that on actual paint, am I using it wrong? How it could it even pass as clearcoat even on paint??? It's not glossy at all.

And the costs are adding up. I've got $22 for some drill attachment and polishing pads, got a new pack of microfibre cloths for $15, $16 for 3 grades of sand paper, $18 for rubbing compound and polish, $17 for Duplicolor, now I'll probably shell out $32 for 2K unless Meguiar's is good. That's $120+13% tax here, that's $136. Plus the time and aggravation, and I guess I didn't NEED to try any of this....

Sigh, live and learn. I guess the cost of a new headlight assembly is still something like $400 online (don't know what Honda would charge). And I still wanted to do my Acura, which has more oxidation, and new fixtures are something like $1000 for both sides....

The point is, it was supposed to be a cheap and relaxing exercise. I'm not relaxed. LOL.
 

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Here’s your solution: don’t spray on a clear coat. I don’t know who does that. Polish the lens to crystal clarity and then apply (or have a shop apply) some clear UV resistant film. It will last longer than any clear coat, and your headlights will be better protected from impacts. I avoid any spray anything on my car.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
OK, so I've been reading up on everyone's suggestions and concluded that many articles and youtube are a terrible mess of conflicting information and high view count might just mean a bunch of people are all getting bad advice (or maybe they're all just spectators, it's the digital age version of everyone standing around watching one guy work). But then, I already knew all that =P

I think 2K is probably the most clear and durable, but I don't think I have the skill to necessarily spray properly and I'd have a terrible time if I had to sand it down and do it again, if that's even possible. I'd probably just have to go nuclear and buy new headlights at that point, but then I'd have to take off the bumper and reinstall and a whole mess of things that I didn't really want to sign up for when I started this little project.

Also, it's a huge hazard. Believe it or not, I actually work professionally in occupational disease prevention and 2-part isocyanate clear coats are a major respiratory hazard in the autobody industry. Usually I see the industrial version in large containers that get mixed before use, and I didn't realize they sell an aerosol can home-version of this kind of thing. So I want to avoid doing this.

I think my front runner solution now that I'm elbow deep is going to be sand everything down again, polish to a shine, then put on the 3M scotchgard paint protection film, something like this? That means I need to wait until I get it before sanding down again...

I hope I'm not going to screw this up, because now I need to learn how to put on this film. I thought restoring the headlights was going to be simple, and it came with all these complications. Putting on the film looks easy too, but who knows what I'll run into!

If I learn how to do this properly, I'll definitely be putting it on whenever it is I get a new car. In fact, there's a lot of stuff I'm adding to the list of things to do to a new car to prevent damage rather than deal with it later.
 

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No, you do not use paint protection film on headlights. You need UV resistant film.
 

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Maybe OP would be better off skipping clear coats and film and just applying a high quality wax monthly?
 

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The product itself can also make the difference between ok and perfect. Check this out for reference:

 

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OK, so I've been reading up on everyone's suggestions and concluded that many articles and youtube are a terrible mess of conflicting information and high view count might just mean a bunch of people are all getting bad advice
Most YouTubers are illiterate narcissists who avoid accountability. But as time goes on, their production values and entertainment/vanity videos get better so that non-critical thinkers believe the information to be credible.

A friend of mine is a big shot at Google and told me about the "click rate"- they also know how quickly a viewer determines that the video is idiotic and exits out- yet the "hit count" increased. So much rides on the video title and the avatar picture to get a viewer to click it on. Moments later, you realize that you walked into a mine field of stupidity. Too late- The Matrix has you.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
OK, I went and sanded everything down again. Compound then polish. Pictures show after 800, rubbing compound, then polish. The picture after polish isn't so good because it was getting dark and my phone doesn't do well with low light, but it's crystal clear now. I wish it would always stay like this.

Tomorrow morning, I'm going to apply some 3M Scotchgard PPF. I've got a roll, and I'm done with sprays. Wish me luck.

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Discussion Starter #20
OK, that PPF was ... not exactly successful. The concept itself I think is actually very good, if it can withstand UV affords protection over time. My skill level is just too low so far, even though I improved by the second light. The technique involved in actually putting it on is not that bad, and you have to do it quickly, otherwise you get bubbles.

My big problem was that for some reason, it didn't occur to me that a 2D film on a very 3D 8th gen light is a bad combination. I figured it would just stretch out enough and smooth out. Wrong!

Part way through applying the left headlight, I realized no amount of smoothing out was going to get the whole film on properly. So I made a small (bad) cut along the side. You can see the seam just to the right of the flat front portion.

You can't see it, but trimming around the edges is way harder than pros make it look in videos (obviously) or maybe they just don't care about quality and just want video views (real possibility here). But trimming the edges gives me some jagged lines, plus it's hard to trim close to the light without cutting the plastic.

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The right headlight, this picture looks nice, eh? It's actually very poorly done. I traced over the light with plastic wrap, put it on top of the film, then cut out the film. Didn't work out in practice as well as in theory, so the cuts actually look pretty ugly and the overall coverage of the light is actually pretty poor (90-95%?). I would think it should be close to 98%.

I wouldn't care about minor imperfections, but I think there's a good chance this film will not stay put over time. Plus, as much as I tried to cut the outside edges, I missed some spots. At this point, I pretty much figured I would need to go back to drawing board so I just slapped this on so that my headlight wouldn't be completely naked for the time being. There are actually two pieces in this picture below, joined pretty haphazardly.

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But at least this side looks kind of smooth, right? On the other side, because I had to cut in the middle of the process, I had to lift up part of the film that was already stuck on with alcohol. Then readjust, and do funny business like that so I got some wrinkles.

But I think If I had a properly cut piece of film, it would be pretty easy. Probably some CAD laser cut film that is just the right size....I had considered this before buying the film, but...I guess you live and learn.

My 07 Acura TL has much more flat lights...I still have about 60" of film left, so I'll probably save it for that. Both these cars have huge headlights, I need like 30" per light. But I think the next step is to buy some pre-cut XPEL, I think I can get that locally. But I'll probably also weigh it against the cost of getting someone to do it for me

In this part of Canada, getting someone to do anything for you probably costs much more than what you guys in the US are used to, that's why I'm giving it a go. At least I've picked up some skills!
 
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