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Headlight disaster - Buff/Polish Project Gone Wrong


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#1 tcrown

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Posted November 27, 2009 - 02:10 PM

In an attempt to remove the oxidation off my headlight covers, i bought a 3M sandpaper/polish kit from autozone that came highly recommended by the manager. the sandpaper padding attaches to a drill. I feel like such an idiot..... Despite following all the instructions, the sandpaper has created white marks that seem permanent. they're not really scratches as much as they are just opaque marks that seem embedded into the plastic. Have i ruined the headlight? I re-did the entire process hoping a second round would remove the scratches. What are my options here? i am literally sick to my stomach at the thought that i damaged my baby. it looks much worse in person - the pictures don't capture the extent of the marks.

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Edited by tcrown, November 27, 2009 - 02:11 PM.

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#2 Ross1

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Posted November 27, 2009 - 03:19 PM

Doesn't look good! Looks like you have gouged the plastic with the high speed drill. I would probably try some fine grain wet sandpaper and buff by hand. Then use a plastic polish to finish it off. Odds are that it will never be the same, because if you get the gouges out, it will still have a warped look to it. New headlights might be in order!


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#3 tcrown

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Posted November 27, 2009 - 03:26 PM

F me.... what a disaster. any reco's on where to buy headlamp covers? i've done about 20 min of research and sounds like i have to buy the whole assembly.


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#4 X-UFO

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Posted November 27, 2009 - 03:31 PM

In an attempt to remove the oxidation off my headlight covers, i bought a 3M sandpaper/polish kit from autozone that came highly recommended by the manager. the sandpaper padding attaches to a drill.

I feel like such an idiot..... Despite following all the instructions, the sandpaper has created white marks that seem permanent. they're not really scratches as much as they are just opaque marks that seem embedded into the plastic. Have i ruined the headlight?

I re-did the entire process hoping a second round would remove the scratches.

What are my options here? i am literally sick to my stomach at the thought that i damaged my baby. it looks much worse in person - the pictures don't capture the extent of the marks.



Depending on how deep the marks are and if they've been created by the heat of the drill:

You can do no harm by using some wet and dry 1500 fine or 2500 which is very fine. Something like SCRATCH-X (or T-CUT or PLASPOL) will help at the same time. Use the wet and dry with warm water to dip it in with a little Fairy Liquid in the water. Just try it on a small area a few inches square to let you see the results and to give you an idea of how long you need to rub in circular motions and how it is working. You will probably need to go at it for a while because those wet and dry grades are fine.

Take the headlight out (two mins) and do it indoors. and away from the paintwork around it.


I've used the above materials and method on cd's that have been very very badly scratched. NEVER use any machine always by hand.

You can't just buy the plastic covers, they are glued to the rest of the headlight. You have to get the complete headlight.

Edited by X-UFO, November 27, 2009 - 03:38 PM.

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#5 PAULSPEED

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Posted November 27, 2009 - 03:34 PM

May want to try calling the Porsche Junkyard in Oklahoma, Texas. They might have one that will not bust the bank. Paul


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#6 jgriffin56

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Posted November 27, 2009 - 09:19 PM

Try Rennlist DIY for 996, there is a great step by step instruction for buffing out lenses. If you need to replace the lenses try DC Automotive ( Porsche Only Auto dismantler in Los Angeles) for the parts. Also the lens clleaning kit with the small 3 inch sanding disk and the proper abrasives works pretty good as well, you may save most of the lenses


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#7 kbrandsma

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Posted November 27, 2009 - 10:20 PM

F me.... what a disaster.

any reco's on where to buy headlamp covers? i've done about 20 min of research and sounds like i have to buy the whole assembly.


Here is the link. I think you are going to be in good shape.

Link Press Here
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#8 EGamble3

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Posted November 28, 2009 - 08:08 AM

I just bought an amplifier from Los Angeles Dismantler. Was stunned to find out how many parts and dimantled Porsches they have. Certain they have your headlamps if you need to replace them. (888) POR-SCHE. I talked to a guy named Leo but I'm sure anyone can help you. Good luck!


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#9 goldenwarrior1

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Posted November 28, 2009 - 12:24 PM

I just bought an amplifier from Los Angeles Dismantler. Was stunned to find out how many parts and dimantled Porsches they have. Certain they have your headlamps if you need to replace them. (888) POR-SCHE. I talked to a guy named Leo but I'm sure anyone can help you. Good luck!

Your lights are repairable and easy to fix but will take about an hour of labor. You can either take them to a reputable detailing shop that performs headlight restoration or you can go to Wal-Mart and buy a kit for about $20.00. I have used them repeatedly with great success. DO NOT use the machine pads for the very reasons you wrote this. It takes a skilled hand to prevent heat from building up on the disks causing the swirl marks you have. The kit from Wal-Mart will be done entirely by hand and will take you about 30 minutes a light if you follow the directions carefully.

Heres the link Headlight Restoration
Good luck, GW
B)

Edited by goldenwarrior1, November 28, 2009 - 12:32 PM.

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#10 Mother

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Posted November 28, 2009 - 02:28 PM

+1 on DIY above.


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#11 soutex

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Posted November 29, 2009 - 11:38 AM

Before I popped for a new set of lights I would call a auto restoration shop. There is usually one in most larger cities. I would show them the problems and see what majic they can prescribe. If you can't find one try calling car lots that specialize in high end sports cars like Porsche, Ferrari and so on. They have a shop they deal with for these kinds of problems. I have used Meguiar's non-abrasive Deep Crystal Paint Cleaner for the past 10 years and I apply by hand. It returns cloudy to clear very quickly. I then polish with Meguiar's canuba wax. They look factory fresh. Good luck.


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#12 tcrown

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Posted November 29, 2009 - 04:04 PM

thanks for all the replies. i'm so relieved with my outcome. my local porsche dealer recommended www.drheadlight.com. they have dealers in 10 states or so. John, the owner of the South FL location, came to my house today and in 90 minutes completely resurfaced my headlights - they look new. i'm pasting pics of the afters. unfortunately i never took full befores, but the closeup is the same headlight that i damaged 2 days ago (shown above). my headlights were pretty dull and foggy prior to this weekend.

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#13 kbrandsma

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Posted November 29, 2009 - 08:22 PM

Awesome, they look great!


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#14 rrspikemarty

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Posted November 30, 2009 - 11:50 PM

Awesome, they look great!

I agree - very nice!
I understood the lights from the factory have a top coat of hardened "scratch-resistant" polycarbonate material as part of the manufacturing process. Does anyone know if the restoration sanding removes that top coat, or is it simply smoothing the top layer (without penetrating it) to remove the scratches?
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#15 1schoir

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Posted December 01, 2009 - 12:15 PM

Try Rennlist DIY for 996, there is a great step by step instruction for buffing out lenses. If you need to replace the lenses try DC Automotive ( Porsche Only Auto dismantler in Los Angeles) for the parts. Also the lens clleaning kit with the small 3 inch sanding disk and the proper abrasives works pretty good as well, you may save most of the lenses


+1 on the number of used Porsche parts carried by DC Automotive. They are actually located in North Carolina.

Regards, Maurice.
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#16 number9ine

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Posted December 01, 2009 - 03:17 PM

Awesome, they look great!

I agree - very nice!
I understood the lights from the factory have a top coat of hardened "scratch-resistant" polycarbonate material as part of the manufacturing process. Does anyone know if the restoration sanding removes that top coat, or is it simply smoothing the top layer (without penetrating it) to remove the scratches?

There is a topcoat, which is scratch-resistant and also blocks UV from fogging/yellowing the lens underneath. Fixing the damage in this thread probably took all of that off.

The base plastic is also UV-resistant, but it's best to keep it out of direct sunlight and heat whenever possible. Meg's makes a product called PlastX which works well for maintenance buffing of the odd scrape and pit.

I've restored some pretty bad headlamps in my day. I'd say it's never smart to machine polish unless a) you've got the right machine and B) you know how to use it. Wetsanding by hand is preferred for the real bad stuff because sanding errors can polish out, but burned plastic is forever.

Mark
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#17 Jon996

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Posted December 01, 2009 - 06:21 PM

Whew, nice to see how this turned out for you. Now that they are pristine, you might consider having them covered with Ventureshield (or some other clear bra material). I had mine done and it looks great (and does not seem to scratch).


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#18 tcrown

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Posted December 03, 2009 - 01:04 PM

just as one more plug for the company/guy who came out and did my headlights, he used a pneumatic air sprayer to apply a clear coat epoxy at the end.... he described that as one of the main differences between his process and standard kits. it is a UV protector and the company guarantees no future oxidation. having said all that, i will NEVER be using a machine to do anything on the exterior of my car again!


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#19 carlosvquezada

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Posted December 03, 2009 - 04:40 PM

I just bought an amplifier from Los Angeles Dismantler. Was stunned to find out how many parts and dimantled Porsches they have. Certain they have your headlamps if you need to replace them. (888) POR-SCHE. I talked to a guy named Leo but I'm sure anyone can help you. Good luck!

Your lights are repairable and easy to fix but will take about an hour of labor. You can either take them to a reputable detailing shop that performs headlight restoration or you can go to Wal-Mart and buy a kit for about $20.00. I have used them repeatedly with great success. DO NOT use the machine pads for the very reasons you wrote this. It takes a skilled hand to prevent heat from building up on the disks causing the swirl marks you have. The kit from Wal-Mart will be done entirely by hand and will take you about 30 minutes a light if you follow the directions carefully.

Heres the link Headlight Restoration
Good luck, GW
B)


While you're at WalMart and before you invest $20 and an hour of your time, you should check their Auto Service center in the back. The WalMart in Westminster, CA I know they will do the headlight restoration for you for $38.00.

I went DIY, spent longer than an hour working on it and the job still didn't come out perfect. For $18 extra, if I could do it again, I'd just have them do it.


What I'd like to know is if anyone has tried baking their headlights to open them up. I know people have to do this to do aftermarket H.I.D. installations.
My lenses (next to the bulb) are burned inside and I'd like to try to clean them up.
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#20 kbrandsma

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Posted December 03, 2009 - 10:12 PM

I just bought an amplifier from Los Angeles Dismantler. Was stunned to find out how many parts and dimantled Porsches they have. Certain they have your headlamps if you need to replace them. (888) POR-SCHE. I talked to a guy named Leo but I'm sure anyone can help you. Good luck!

Your lights are repairable and easy to fix but will take about an hour of labor. You can either take them to a reputable detailing shop that performs headlight restoration or you can go to Wal-Mart and buy a kit for about $20.00. I have used them repeatedly with great success. DO NOT use the machine pads for the very reasons you wrote this. It takes a skilled hand to prevent heat from building up on the disks causing the swirl marks you have. The kit from Wal-Mart will be done entirely by hand and will take you about 30 minutes a light if you follow the directions carefully.

Heres the link Headlight Restoration
Good luck, GW
B)


While you're at WalMart and before you invest $20 and an hour of your time, you should check their Auto Service center in the back. The WalMart in Westminster, CA I know they will do the headlight restoration for you for $38.00.

I went DIY, spent longer than an hour working on it and the job still didn't come out perfect. For $18 extra, if I could do it again, I'd just have them do it.


What I'd like to know is if anyone has tried baking their headlights to open them up. I know people have to do this to do aftermarket H.I.D. installations.
My lenses (next to the bulb) are burned inside and I'd like to try to clean them up.

Not sure there is anything you can do with the burned lense. Perhaps take an older amber pair and split them too and put the clear 996 lights over the top of them.

Has anyone been able to remove the burned look?
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