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Thread: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

  1. #1
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    Default Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    Not sure if anyone saw the recent Popular Mechanics review on Headlight restoration kits.:
    Which headlight restorer works best?

    I remember reading here a long time ago, that it was not advised to use these treatments and to buy ONLY factory replacement lenses, so not sure if that's still the way to go since there's 100's of these on the market and if there has been any advancement in chemistry that has been approved?

    Recently I have was trying to locate a specialty chemical, and RyderFleet Products was the only distributor who had it, but they are closing at the end of the month and ceasing their operation for products sold to Fleet Operators.

    I wanted to see what else they had and stumbled across a "Professional Headlight Restoration Kit" named LightRite, by a company called Search Automotive, for $13.77/2.5oz spray can at RyderFleetProducts.com. It goes for $13.77. It seems like a good price, and if so, buy it while you can since RyderFleet Products Div. is going out of business. On eBay and Wal-Mart it goes for about $45.

    This looks like a good deal if the experts here think it's an appropriate coating.
    They have some kind of SAE Testing: http://www.searchautomotive.net/

    It seems it's only sold thru professional suppliers and to the trade, but I see some old listings on Walmart/Ebay, and anyone can buy from RyderFleet 'til they close at the end of the month, so maybe there's some good deals on "Lighting Stuff" too!!!!!!
    Last edited by -Virgil-; 02-20-2020 at 10:29 PM. Reason: Remove off-topic material, will move to another thread

  2. #2
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    Daniel Stern mentioned that LightRite product from Search Automotive to me the other day in email. It looks somewhat promising because it's UV-cured instead of just drying like paint, but that's as much as we know about it.

    Perhaps those $45-ish kits also include the UV 'wand' for the crosslinking.
    Last edited by -Virgil-; 02-20-2020 at 09:29 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    The UV wand is $127 discounted from $154
    Last edited by -Virgil-; 02-20-2020 at 09:29 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    Quote Originally Posted by Cadchris View Post
    Not sure if anyone saw the recent Popular Mechanics review on Headlight restoration kits
    Not an awful article -- there has been much worse advice given out about headlamps in Popular Mechanics before -- but it would have been nice if they had been a lot less vague about the performance of these kits they tested. They did an OK job talking about how the various kits did at clearing up the lenses (not great, not good, just OK...there's no ranking beyond vague "clear and shiny" "not as good as other kits" "OK if the lenses aren't too bad to start with" type of squishy language), and they did correctly advise that these kits will only deal with outside-surface degradation. They totally dropped the ball on durability; not a single useful word in the whole article except for lazy reference to warranty periods. And their advice to buy new aftermarket headlamps isn't necessarily completely wrong, but it's definitely not necessarily right, either.

    I remember reading here a long time ago, that it was not advised to use these treatments
    Some of them work OK for awhile.

    and to buy ONLY factory replacement lenses
    Most headlamps do not have replaceable lenses. The advice to buy only OEM parts (if they're available, if you can afford them) is still valid and correct.

    so not sure if that's still the way to go since there's 100's of these on the market and if there has been any advancement in chemistry that has been approved?
    Everything advances. Promising techniques/materials include this, this (catalytic cure) and perhaps this LightRite stuff (UV cure).

    They have some kind of SAE Testing
    Their site says they release results to "qualified" parties. I'll see if I can suss out what counts as "qualified".

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    The LightRite language seems very similar to a product my preferred MINI parts supplier states they use in their own service department from Würth

    https://www.wurthusa.com/Chemical-Pr...t/p/1893573850


    The Wurth UV Cure Sealant Headlight Restoration kit will service one pair of Polycarbonate headlights. This technology has been lab tested under SAE protocols to prove longevity and comes with a limited lifetime written warranty.

    [...]


    Improve UVCure Sealant Kit effectiveness with LED UVCure Wand! (Art. #1893573851)

    If I didn't have doubts about the optical integrity of one or the other of my MINI's xenon/halogen headlamp assemblies, I'd give it a shot (especially with the replacement running around $600 each side, rather than ~$150 for halogen/halogen units). My experience with the 3M kit for removal of haze and polishing, in concert with some professional (body shop) masking tape was good. I remember about an hour per lens using the kit and a Milwaukee 18V drill. Most of the time was in progressive polishing until there were no scratches or swirl lines visible to me in the bright sunlight.

    As already mentioned, UV protection is the big challenge, not the removal of haze and polishing. I had used 303 Aerospace Protectant, regularly applied, and got about a year's more time on the lenses.

  6. #6
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    Looking at their "Before" and "After" pics at SearchAutomotive, it really just looks like the "Before" is low beams and "After" is high beams.
    Seriously:
    http://www.searchautomotive.net/images/road_before.jpg
    http://www.searchautomotive.net/images/road_after.jpg

  7. #7

    Default Re: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    Good catch!! You can tell for sure just by opening each image in a different tab and switching back and forth between the two.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    Interesting. I polished my old Volvo headlamps and thought they looked pretty good. I didn't realize how crappy the polished ones were until my OEM replacements arrived from Europe, and side by side, the polished ones were in sad shape.
    Since then, I've told people that I wouldn't really bother polishing headlamps as they will not come out anywhere NEAR as good as a replacement.

    Of course, the question is if a cheap aftermarket crap replacement is better than an OEM faded one? Or maybe it's different versions of crap?

    Now I have to see how much the 2013 Prius replacements will cost. They're starting to fade.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    In my experience, polishing the lenses works well, but is not "quick". You really need to take the time to go through all the grades until there are no "coarser" marks of any sort visible in bright sunlight before moving on to the finer grade. I had good results with the 3M kit on MINI Cooper headlight lenses. As a guess, in a moderate climate (San Francisco), without "real" UV protectorant you probably can extend the life of the lenses six months or a year. Assuming you have the patience and wrist strength to hold a "contractor-grade" drill for a couple hours ("beer breaks" allowed), this might buy you some time.

    I'm not thrilled by the LightRite marketing claims (noting cynically that "tested" and "passed" are two, different things). Würth is a well-respected, "professional use only" brand. If you could get your hands on the kit, or find a shop that could apply it on for you, it would be something I'd try. NB: If you've got the halogen headlights at $209 each to replace with OE, this approach may cost you nearly as much as new units.

    On OE vs. "other" headlamps, I've never been thrilled by even the construction of anything but OE, OEM, or OEM-quality (such as Bosch or Hella for the halogen MINI). Many times you can purchase OE parts through a dealer that has an online presence at a significant discount (25-40%). Be careful, in my opinion, to use a Toyota dealer, not a "third-party" site that has no, direct affiliation with a Toyota dealer. There are often more- and less-complete assemblies and/or parts available. I don't know your trim level, but a quick check shows for a 2013 Prius

    w/LED -- $637.99 list, $430 sell (each)
    w/o LED -- $305.61 list, $209 sell (each)

    (I have no idea if the LED unit is "better" in any way than the conventional, or if they can be swapped physically or electrically.)

    To save Virgil from repeating himself

    Quote Originally Posted by -Virgil- View Post
    It would be great if we lived in a world where original-equipment lights were available forever and at realistic prices. But unfortunately we don't, because the sealed-beam era is long since behind us. It's legitimate to rant about the inferior quality, performance, and durability of off-brand lamps -- I do that myself -- but at the end of the day, sometimes original lamps aren't on the menu (unavailable or unaffordable). Then the task falls to picking the best remaining option. That's usually going to be Dorman, Depo or TYC. They don't match original quality, performance, or durability, but they're better than most of the other aftermarket junk on the market. And while aftermarket "certifications" like CAPA are largely sales tools that don't actually mean what they'd like you to believe they mean, at least they're some minimal, nominal effort towards accountability. Likewise, the NSF certification doesn't mean aftermarket lights that have it are equal to original lights, but the NSF program (see
    Quote Originally Posted by -Virgil- View Post
    here and here) has something going for it that "CAPA certification" does not: NSF is a recognized, reputable, independent testing outfit like UL and ETL. (CAPA is just basically a lobbying outfit whose main aim is to get insurance companies to fix your car with aftermarket parts made by CAPA's members rather than with genuine parts).

    In practice, the most likely effect of programs like this is that the best lights to come off the production line at Depo and TYC get the NSF label. The ones that aren't good enough for the NSF label get the CAPA label. The ones that don't merit the CAPA label don't get either label. This isn't a big secret or anything, and it's not limited to Chinese manufacture or to any one industry. It works the same for light bulbs: the ones that meet all the specs go to the automakers for OE install. The ones that meet most of the specs go to the automakers for replacement parts. The ones that come close to meeting most of the specs get packaged up as first-brand replacements and sold through jobbers and parts stores. The ones that'll probably work pretty much OK get sold under second or "value" brands. And the ones that light up (and don't ask about any specs) get sold as generics.
    Last edited by jeffsf; 02-26-2020 at 03:20 PM.

  10. #10
    Flashaholic* John_Galt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    If the UV cured sealer is the way to go, I'm glad to hear it.

    I polished and coated the driverside headlamp of my sisters scion xb shortly before christmas.

    http://imgur.com/gallery/GZkK1IB

    I neglected to take a "before" photo, but this headlamp lens was basically opaque across the top edge and very visibly hazed/hard to see through until about the horizontal mid-line of the lens.

    I looked at the available restoration kits at a few different auto parts store, and didnt see one that offered multiple grades of sandpaper as well as any sort of UV protectant coating, so I opted to buy a sanding block and 400 through 2500 grit wet/dry sandpaper. I wish I had polished using a higher grit 3/4000 grit, but even at just 2500 grit, the lens was significantly clearer. I used an outdoor rated polyurethane spray product from valspar, as her local home depot did not have pint or quart jars of the same type of product available. I have asked her for an update photo, which she has promised to send, and I'll ask for one evwry few months and update that imgur album from here on out. Hopefully the polyurethane product seals effectively and lasts a while.
    I love my HDS/Ra Clicky... My only wish would be a 5th(accessible thru a 2click press) mode, and a 2AA tube.

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    Default Re: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    I used what I believe is the "3M Headlight Lens Restoration System, 39008" (~$14 on Amazon). Instructions and details can be downloaded from http://multimedia.3m.com/mws/media/7...stem-39008.pdf

    Purchase of auto-body masking tape is recommended. As I recall, I used the #39008 tape, purchased from a local body-shop supplier as I wasn't willing to wait.

    The linked instructions indicate that the steps are
    • P500
    • P800
    • P3000 Trizact™
    • Rubbing compound


    Each step made the former step, including rubbing compound after the P3000, seem coarse by comparison.

    Long overdue headlamps on 2006 MINI Cooper at 12 years, San Francisco, CA area car, not garaged.



    Masked



    Polished



    It took me probably around an hour per headlamp, plus breaks.

    A year later, in spite of using 303 Aerospace Protectant regularly (apparently highly regarded in the boating community), I was considering re-polishing with light hazing evident (San Francisco, CA area). At a year and a half, I was about to buy new Hella assemblies rather than spend an afternoon polishing again. My notes show Hella 010068011/010068021 for the halogens (~$150 per side vs. $231 for OE from an online MINI dealer) and 010068031/010068041 for the Xenon (Hella availability unknown, $528 for OE).

  12. #12

    Default Re: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffsf View Post
    I used what I believe is the "3M Headlight Lens Restoration System, 39008"

    (...)

    The linked instructions indicate that the steps are
    • P500
    • P800
    • P3000 Trizact™
    • Rubbing compound
    The missing final step (hard coat -- a real one, not some lame wax/lotion/"protectant") is why the clarity didn't last.

    in spite of using 303 Aerospace Protectant regularly (apparently highly regarded in the boating community)
    Fine for delaying UV degradation of textiles, vinyl, canvas, etc. Nowhere near adequate or appropriate for protecting headlamp lenses from degradation -- seriously, this would be on the order of using PAM™ cooking spray (highly regarded in the cooking industry) instead of Coca-Cola. Or a hammer (highly regarded in the carpentry industry) instead of a digital multimeter. Or Oxy-5 (highly regarded among teenagers with problem acne) instead of sunblock. I'm not saying this to try to mock you or anything like that, it's just very much a case of the wrong tool for the job. What is needed is a highly UV-resistant, physically hard coat. Unlike with textiles and soft plastics, there is nothing for a thin liquid like 303 to soak into. It just runs/washes right off.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    I own a paint repair shop. We do lots of headlight restorations. Some are just sand and buff jobs to get the car through a registration inspection or for sale, while others are complete jobs for owners who want to keep the car and don't want to have to keep "restoring" their lights. We warrant these jobs for 10 years and have never had one come back.

    UV curing has absolutely nothing to do with cross linking or anything else other than speeding up the drying process.

    The kits mentioned above are a bit of a joke. They kind of work, for a limited time, as one or two have already noted.

    There are true professional grade restoration kits available. The following links are for a kit by Axalta, whose products we use in the shop, but other paint manufacturers have equivalents. Of course, in a paint shop we have the products available in bulk, so have no need for the kits which, by the way, are not cheap.

    https://www.cromax.com/eu/en_GB/prod...rs/HL5500.html links to the kit.

    http://sdstds.crxcolor.com/Doc/TDS/EN/EN%20HL5500.pdf links to the Technical Data Sheet. Note the Health and Safety warnings - these products are extremely dangerous.

    Long before the kits came out we were achieving lasting, high quality results using high quality automotive two pack clears. The process involves multiple sanding steps, similar to what is described in the TDS above to ensure that all the old coating is removed and the top, degraded layer of the polycarbonate is also removed. Scratch removal is very, very important to the final result. An appropriate clear primer is required to ensure a bond between the clear and the polycarbonate and the clear needs to be applied using spray guns that give very fine atomisation, to ensure an even wet coverage with as flat a surface as possible. After final curing we then wet sand to remove any dust nibs or imperfections and to flatten the surface to as near to perfect as possible. What you don't want is refraction or scattering of the light rays through peel on the surface of the coating.

    Automotive clears, the better quality ones anyway, contain UV inhibitors and, applied at the correct thickness, will provide lasting protection to the substrate and the bond between the clear and the substrate. The clearcoat failures which are commonly seen on production vehicles are the result of the manufacturers reducing clear thickness to save money. Most good clears have a recommended dry film thickness of 50-60μm. Some manufacturers are only achieving total (e-coat, primer, basecoat and clear) of 70μm and it's always the clear that gets less than optimum thickness because it is the most expensive.

    For most people the best solution is to find a paint shop that will do this kind of work and will complete all the steps and provide a warranty. There is a solid 3 hours work, more with some lights, in doing the job properly so it won't be cheap.

    On the topic of headlight lenses and replacement of the lens rather than the whole headlight, lenses have been available for very few cars. However, some factories in China have finally woken up to the sales potential and more and more are now starting to become available on sites like AliExpress and even Ebay. My recommendation, after having done some for customers who were trying to save money versus replacing the whole unit? Don't touch them. The plastic itself is not high quality, it's thinner than it should be and the coating on the surface is rubbish. That, combined with the fact that removing a headlight lens and replacing same while achieving correct sealing is not a task for the uninitiated.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    Quote Originally Posted by NFT5 View Post
    UV curing has absolutely nothing to do with cross linking
    It actually does. Here y'go. And here.

    The rest of what you said is pretty much right on target, though: results with DIY methods range from "total waste of time/effort/money" to "surprisingly good for awhile", but the materials and equipment available to a paint professional, together with the knowledge, skill and dilligence to use them correctly and well, are going to result in a better and more durable (and more costly) job. And aftermarket replacement lenses (so-called) are a sick joke, whether they're plastic or glass.
    Last edited by -Virgil-; 02-27-2020 at 01:37 PM.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffsf View Post
    I've never been thrilled by even the construction of anything but OE, OEM, or OEM-quality (such as Bosch or Hella for the halogen MINI).
    You've got some terms muddled up here. There is no difference between an "OE" headlamp and an "OEM" headlamp; those two terms mean the same thing unless we want to be really picayune and say one comes in a box bearing the car maker's brand and the other, identical in every way, comes in a box bearing the lamp maker's brand.

    That "OEM-quality" term is a bit of a landmine just waiting to be stepped on, because it is pretty much exclusively (and falsely) used by the knockoff artists -- TYC/Depo/Maxzone/DJAuto/etc. It is approximately never the case that a legitimate supplier (let's say Hella) makes a headlamp for a given vehicle and sells it only as a replacement part, not to the automaker. There are cases where multiple suppliers provide nominally identical headlamps for a given application; think of the E36 Beemers (European H1 projector headlamps made by Hella, Bosch and ZKW) or the VW Golf IV (European H7/H1 headlamps made by Hella, Bosch and Valeo), etc, but buying a Hella headlamp to replace a ZKW headlamp is still buying an OE headlamp, not an "OEM-quality" one.

    Be careful, in my opinion, to use a Toyota dealer, not a "third-party" site that has no, direct affiliation with a Toyota dealer. There are often more- and less-complete assemblies and/or parts available.
    Toyota often provides a complete headlamp and a "headlamp unit" minus consumables and parts that are at least sometimes likely to stay in good shape and be transferred off the original...the list varies by application, but might include things like bulbs, silicone rubber boots, bolt-on brackets, HID ballasts, etc. In some cases only the complete headlamp is supplied, and in other cases only the "headlamp unit" is supplied. Getting which one you want isn't so much a function of buying from a dealership, it's a function of getting the correct part number.

    for a 2013 Prius
    Three different left and three different right "headlamp units" are what is offered by Toyota. 81130-47300 and 81170-47300 halogen, 81145-47310 and 81185-47310 (LED through 7/13) and 81145-47600 and 81185-47600 (LED after from 8/13 on).

  16. #16
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    The LightRite is sold out. (I thought about buying a can but missed my chance. Them's the breaks.)

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    One difference between what I call "OE" and "OEM" is that, when purchasing from a factory dealership, there is warranty that any factory dealership should honor. If I had purchased OEM headlamps in a Marelli / AL box and something had happened with the purchase, I would need to seek relief through the shop from which I purchased the parts, or perhaps from the manufacturer directly. Who knows how long that would take, with a half-blind vehicle if rapid cross-shipment was not an option. For me, the $65 price differential (total for the pair) was worth it. I mentioned the use of a dealership-associated online source rather than one that might have the OE premium pricing, but without the marque's warranty support. Thankfully, I've never had to test if the marque supports the warranty of parts sold through third parties.

    You are correct in that "OEM quality" is generally a marketing term used by aftermarket suppliers. My intent was along the lines that you indicate; a reputable manufacturer making a part to OE specifications (probably down to the detailed "drawing" level), likely as an alternate supplier for the part to the OE, be it model or market variants, or just supply chain redundancy.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffsf View Post
    One difference between what I call "OE" and "OEM" is that, when purchasing from a factory dealership, there is warranty that any factory dealership should honor.
    Check carefully, though. Many (maybe most, maybe all) parts warranty policies don't apply to electrical parts, and lamps are often included in that category. And even if they don't get you with that exclusion, often parts are covered by warranty only if installed by the dealership (or sometimes by a licensed shop with an ongoing business relationship for parts supply with the selling dealer).

  19. #19
    Moderator Alaric Darconville's Avatar
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    Default Re: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    On the subject of OEM, Creative Labs made SB16 and other audio cards for Dell and Gateway and the like, but if someone called with an SB16 preinstalled in the machine by the computer maker, they'd get support but couldn't get an RMA number from them. They were "OEM" cards, and yes, Creative were the Original Equipment Manufacturer, but that didn't mean you could send it back to Creative for repair.

    Same goes for things like car stereos. Your '06 Pontiac GTO may have a Blaupunkt stereo, but support and warranty services were the responsibility of GM (usually through the dealership), not Blaupunkt.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Headlight Restoration Kit Review + Good Price

    I'm putting in my two cents because my experience was unexpected, for me at least. My budget wasn't all that high and my headlights were a mess, so I searched to find a good deal that promised good results. I read about the Wipe New here https://popular.reviews/headlight-restoration-kits/ and, after doing some digging and reading of other's experience, decided to go for it. It's just a 2-step process and I followed it as instructed, the difference amazed me. But what truly blew my mind was when I eventually replaced them altogether and saw that, while the restoration kit did make a difference, my old headlights didn't look as "new" as I thought they would (it was still a good job, but not as great as I initially thought). But I'm not giving up on DIY restoration, a friend uses 3M and next time I'm going to stop cheeping out and get myself a higher-priced kit too (I saw the difference it made in his headlights and you can really tell the brand is more qualitative).

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