Tuesday 28 May 2013


The frosting on my headlights was getting to be a real pain. It seems unusual to later 33 headlights the earlier models just seem to go yellow (although not owning one this may be an unfair comment). Looking at my lenses, I was convinced that the hazing was happening on the inside of the headlight, as the front surface looked smooth and clean enough (no yellowing).
I was finding that the frosting effect which was only over my dipped beam headlights was bad enough to really diffuse the light and it seriously felt like I was driving by candle light. I did try turning off my headlights at some points to see if things improved... They only got slightly worse!
I was already fortunate enough to possess a very clean set of R33 headlights, although too lazy to unbolt the front bumper to remove them, however enough was enough and it was time to act!

or was it?

I had been watching a TV show in the UK called Wheeler Dealers - Trading up. Not exactly the top flight of car shows, but a light hearted whimsy in car sales around the world by some dodgy car dealer. In it he had brought a 4x4 car to sell on in Abu Dhabi, the lights of which were dull and sand blasted by the elements. He had the car valeted and as a part of that, the valeters set about the lights with what looked like sanding disks.. They didn't dwell on this part of the show for long but the end result was simply that the lights looked like new again.

So, to the internet we go... I settled on the Lamin-x web site who sell the 3M Headlight restoration kit at £17.99

This kit comes with a sanding pad holder, P500 Grit papers, P800 Grit, a 'Trizact' pad (buffer), a buffing pad and polishing compound. 

So with some trepidation I set about masking the areas I did not want to attack with sandpaper, namely the body work, laying down three strips of masking tape to protect the paint work. Then it was just a case of attaching the disk pad to a drill  and off we go! The P500 makes short work of the light units and there is just enough if your lights are particularly grotty. On really bad headlights it may be an idea to buy two sets of the stuff, although would it kill 3M to include a couple more bits of sandpaper? Whilst sanding you have to keep the disk moving back and forth over the light unit, don't linger as you will generate heat on what is a piece of plastic! Wipe the dust of regularly as you go, eventually you will have covered the whole of the headlight and be ready to switch to the P800 grade. Again the amount of dust you will create is legendary, so perhaps a face mask should also be used (which naturally I didn't!).
When you have the lights sanded off and looking dull but clean, you use the Trizact disc. Basically you want to spray some water over the lenses and onto the disc, four or five passes will soon bring the lights up to a good condition (remember to keep it wet). Then you can switch to the final phase of using the buffing pad, you want to squeeze out about a Dime or Fifty pence size blob of the polishing compound onto the pad.
If you have your bonnet open, cover the engine in a sheet or lay some cloths over it, also do this for yourself! There is a lot of spray at this point.
Run the polishing compound over the lights a few times. It's quite surprising at this stage how quickly the lights come back to clarity and very little effort is required.

The end result is probably as good as nearly new and the headlights are crystal clear again. It seemed strange to see the pattern of the reflectors in the dipped beam once more.
This is not really a modification, although it has been the cheapest way to make one of the biggest differences to my driving experience!


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