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Old 03-29-2011, 05:46 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Headlight lens replacement

I am looking at an 04 outback that is fine except for the headlamp lenses. From my research it appears you cannot buy new lenses, you have to buy the whole headlamp assembly. That's nuts! And polishing works, but not as good as new lenses.
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Old 03-29-2011, 07:19 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Before you buy the new headlamps; the $22 silver package sold at Walmart works GREAT, takes maybe 20 minutes per headlight and results were impressive.
I was in the same position about a year ago on my '05 and lights are still looking like I just buffed them out. Be sure to get some tape to cover the surrounding areas!
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Old 03-29-2011, 08:25 PM   #3 (permalink)
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X2. Buy a good kit, one with several different sand paper grits and a polishing pad. Take your time, it'll pay off with great results.
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Old 03-30-2011, 12:21 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Don't waste your money on new lamps, the old ones will clean up just fine, and as good as new.
If you don't want to try, plenty of mobile places on Craigs List that will charge you about $50 to do it.

You could buy pretty much buy the buffer and supplies for $50 and then you have a buffer in the garage!
I had the buffer already, I bought it in the sale, PLUS I used a 20% off coupon from a Car Magazine... like CarCraft or Hotrod, so I paid like $38.

This is how I did my own...
Start:


P800 on a block wetted.


Looks like this after, so dont freak out:


Then P1500 on a block wet:


Looks like this after:


Then smear some metal polish on...
I used Autosol..



Buff with my HF buffer, and foam pad:



Looked like this after:


If you really want to work it, you can fine buff with a wool pad, and a super fine plastic polish like this one...



End result?



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Old 03-30-2011, 02:01 PM   #5 (permalink)
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If you have a bench-mounted vise, it would make sense to remove the headlights from the car when doing this. (Unless you have a stool to sit on or have taped off the surrounding area really well.) It's not that hard to take them off.
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Old 10-20-2013, 12:38 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Beware of Non-OEM Replacement Assemblies

Think twice before buying replacement headlight assemblies. I was too lazy to do all that buffing & just ordered a set of replacement headlights for our 2001 wagon -- the whole light, including bulbs. They went in super easy (three 10mm screws), but the turn signal started flashing waaay too fast, so I replaced all the yellow bulbs with the ones from the old lights, but they still flashed too fast. Looked closely at the bulb sockets and lo and behold! the new connector pins are much smaller and aluminum-looking, instead of the thicker and brass-looking pins on the original bulb holders. Replaced the new holders with the old, and put in the new bulbs, and the flashers started working properly.

During trouble-shooting I also tried replacing the H1 bulbs with the old ones -- the bulbs have identical markings, but the wiring is crimped onto the new bulb so tightly, I was afraid I would break the bulb trying to get it off. So, if that bulb burns out, I am going to have to replace the new twist-off light cover with the old one & re-use the old harness... definitely keeping the old assemblies!

Moral of story is it is not worth $128 for brand-new lenses (that really DO look excellent and IMHO, a little bit better than the buff job, above, which WAS a great job) and all the labor I saved in not buffing was replaced with troubleshooting the flasher problems.

Did I mention that the adjustment screws on the replacement assemblies don't appear to do much? There IS something to be said for genuine parts -- maybe I will buff the old ones out while the new ones cloud up (or fail due to cheaper aluminum connectors that probably corrode faster than the old ones)...!
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Old 10-20-2013, 12:41 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Someone on here did it slightly different, he did all the sanding and what not and made the lenses look good, but then he took a 50/50 ratio of polyurethane UV coating and mineral spirits and applied that with a paper towel on the lens.

I did it this way and holy cow, it's 10x better than those kits that you get (I've done the kits before as well).

Found the post: Clearing headlight lenses
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Old 10-21-2013, 12:17 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frogsthatmoo View Post
Someone on here did it slightly different, he did all the sanding and what not and made the lenses look good, but then he took a 50/50 ratio of polyurethane UV coating and mineral spirits and applied that with a paper towel on the lens.

I did it this way and holy cow, it's 10x better than those kits that you get (I've done the kits before as well).

Found the post: Clearing headlight lenses
It's been a while since the retro and the lenses still look as clear as they did when I first finished. While polishing them can make them clear again, it's the UV film that you need to protect the newly exposed plastic. It also saves a lot of polishing as I just wet sand up to 2000 grit and then apply the polyurethane. No actual polishing needed.
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Old 10-21-2013, 02:57 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Wow, that looks great polished up.

I had a broken tab one one and it was allowing water in. I got two new headlights. Cheap Chinese ones for $100.

But now one side of the turn signals goes fast like one of them is out. It only does it on one side and it's a kind of annoying.
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Old 01-16-2014, 01:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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How long has your polishing job lasted? I've polished them (without the buffer and sand paper) just with compound and they look really good. But they only stay nice for a few months, then look faded again. I did use a "sealing" product FWIW.

Thank you.
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