Brighter headlights and/or sanding

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radioarno
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Joined: Sat Jun 18, 2016 7:07 pm

Brighter headlights and/or sanding

Post by radioarno »

hi 2004 Vibe, cloudy headlights. My headlights aren't bright enough at night, and I'm a senior so I need more light. Does it make more sense to get the headlights sanded (body shop will charge me $100) do it myself, or buy some new bulbs? And, are there any conventional bulbs that are brighter than others? Thanks much.
Caretaker

Re: Brighter headlights and/or sanding

Post by Caretaker »

I don't know about the other clubs, but Sam's did mine. I believe it was $45 and they guarantee it for something like 3 years. There are other mobile companies in my area that will come to the house and do it for a similar price. For a quick fix, Wipe New at Walmart works very well and is inexpensive. Their procedure is very simple to follow, to include wearing protective latex gloves to protect your skin from the chemical wipe inside. If you do decide to go the Wipe New method for $10, you can do the prep on multiple car lenses prior to opening the chemical wipe and do multiple cars at one time (or use the chemical wipe on your rear tail lights to take off any oxidation there, and protect them as well.)
jolt
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Re: Brighter headlights and/or sanding

Post by jolt »

The issue with the bright bulbs is that the life of the bulb is reduced. The brighter lamps = less life, which makes for higher cost to operate. The brighter lamps cost more to buy, and you have to change them more often then the standard bulb.

It is not always the surface of the headlight housing that is damaged. Over time the reflective surface in the headlight can go dull. If the top surface of headlight is yellowed, then sanding and polishing will greatly improve the light. If the out side surface has a lot of rock chips and sand blasting damage, then replacing the headlight assembly may be a better option. If you want to go that direction then you should check RockAuto Parts or Ebay for prices.
zbyers
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Re: Brighter headlights and/or sanding

Post by zbyers »

To add to the others, Walmart also does the headlight sanding for roughly $50.
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joatmon
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Re: Brighter headlights and/or sanding

Post by joatmon »

I had some limited success scrubbing headlights using a mildly abrasive kitchen sponge and barkeeper's friend.

Tried that WipeNew stuff, didn't work that well for me and the limited effect didn't last very long

In a pinch, some WD40 will clear it up some for a short time

Like jolt said, brighter bulbs don't last long. Then again, the brighter bulbs available in chain auto parts stores tend to be Sylvania, and I never had good bulb longevity with any Sylvania headlight bulbs.
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andrewclaus
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Re: Brighter headlights and/or sanding

Post by andrewclaus »

joatmon wrote: Mon Nov 08, 2021 4:58 am I had some limited success scrubbing headlights using a mildly abrasive kitchen sponge and barkeeper's friend.
Thanks for this note. I was just wondering if BKF would work on headlights--it's great for nearly everything else.

A friend of mine in the auto body business once did mine in return for a favor, and it was quite a process. It takes some time and skill with a good buffer, and the right supplies. $50 is more than reasonable for the work I saw. And I hesitate to use the "wipe and go" products after seeing the excellent results of hard work.
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ColonelPanic
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Re: Brighter headlights and/or sanding

Post by ColonelPanic »

I've lost track of how many times I've sanded the lenses (and how many different kits I've tried.) It's a crappy job, so if you have someone that can do this for you at a reasonable price, go for it!

Not knowing how much sanding they may have left in them, I've been trying to get by with occasional headlight sealant applications. When it starts to yellow, I'll throw compound or plastic polish of some type on there and then reseal. I'll keep BKF in mind for next time.

For bulbs, while the Sylvania Xtravision worked quite well, I gave up on them due to the short life. I'm currently using Philips VisionPlus which have a longer rated life. Nice little upgrade over standard halogens but at the end of the day they're still in 19 year old assemblies.
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joatmon
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Re: Brighter headlights and/or sanding

Post by joatmon »

just to follow up from a couple of years ago, bar keeper's friend (bkf) really doesn't do much, any effect is really short lived.

Yesterday I worked the headlights on my truck, used the sylvania headlight restoration kit. I picked that one because it came with a UV blocking clear coat, and a lifetime guarantee (more on that later)

It's an entirely manual kit, no drill attachment or support for power tools. It takes wet sanding for 5 minutes for each of the three pieces of sandpaper, and another five minutes rubbing with a wet rubbing compound, then finally wiping on a chemical clear coat. There's a couple of washing/drying steps in there. Took me about an hour and a quarter for the job, which includes the 40 minutes of sanding/rubbing on both headlights and taping the painted areas around the headlights (no tape in kit)

kit includes one thin plastic glove for use on the clear coat step, but I could have used two, spilled some on my other hand opening the little bottle of clear coat, and i dribbled a little on the painted truck bumper, which I hadn't covered, but its only visible up close. The clear coat step is pretty cool, after sanding /rubbing the headlights still have a cloudy haze, but wiping on that clear coat turns it to crystal clear. Feels like magic, and satisfying after the labor.

To me the lifetime warranty is a gimmick. First off, the kit is about $22 on amazon, which isn't very much these days. Also, it takes years for headlights to yellow and haze, which means that if you are using it, then your car is already getting old. If it lasts for a couple of years then the car is that much older, the odds of still having it are reduced, Obviously, here at genvibe where we're dealing with reliable cars that are already at least a dozen years old, this last bit may not apply to us as it would for other vehicles. Still, if I get a couple of years out it it will be worth the $22.

The results were excellent, the headlights look brand new. I only did it yesterday, so I can't say how well it will last
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SSizler
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Re: Brighter headlights and/or sanding

Post by SSizler »

I had similar results with the Sylvania kit, however the "magic" layer of clear coat actually started to flake off in irregular sized pieces about 4 months after I used the kit.
The 3M kits I have used before did not produce as much clarity, but lasted longer.
Thinking about just replacing the headlights next time.
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joatmon
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Re: Brighter headlights and/or sanding

Post by joatmon »

4 months sucks. Did you put in a "lifetime warranty" claim?
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SSizler
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Re: Brighter headlights and/or sanding

Post by SSizler »

No I didn't.
I figure it may be partially my fault, maybe I did something not quite perfect...
I have another Sylvania kit and plan to try it again on a 06 in fixing up for my daughter.
2003 Vibe Base/ Frosty White Mono/ Total Loss 1-23
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clinteastwood
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Re: Brighter headlights and/or sanding

Post by clinteastwood »

I followed ChrisFix video on this for my Vibe, looked much better, not perfect but maybe I'll redo them again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEJbKLZ7RmM
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joatmon
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Re: Brighter headlights and/or sanding

Post by joatmon »

I used the sylvania polishing kit on a relatives 03 Matrix this weekend, results were good
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tpollauf
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Re: Brighter headlights and/or sanding

Post by tpollauf »

I've just been polishing mine with a fine rubbing compound every six months or so. Seems to work BUT I'm noticing that the lenses are not as clear today compared to five years ago when I first started polishing them. Note: never sanded them, just polished them. Might have to finally do it right with one of the mentioned kits. It is still in the shop awaiting our windshield friend to install the new windshield. That would be the time to do it.
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