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Old 06-24-2019, 09:03 AM   #1
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Headlight Restoration: anyone use 3M Quick Headlight Clear Coat "wipes?"

My headlights had a yellowness to them I really didn't like. So this past weekend, after weeks worth of studying up I decided to go after them to make them clearer. I haven't had a DIY project go so bad in a long time! I've since learned what I did wrong. I wet sanded my headlights with 600, 800, 1500, 2000 & 3000 grit sandpaper. They looked so much better I took it further with my Novus plastic polishes and my Porter Cable polisher. I thought they turned out great. Much better than they were. (see the attached image and yes that is my "workbench" when I am working with water!

The disaster step was applying a clear coat recommended on a Youtube video, Rust-oleum 2X Gloss Clear. It instantly turned milky, checked and clearly was not the right product for what I had prepared. Seems there is a reason you stop at a consistently cloudy surface after wet sanding to give a product like the Rust-oleum something to bond onto. My polished surfaces didn't allow that even thought I had wiped them down with alcohol to ensure they were "clean." I let that clear gloss paint product dry then sanded it all off and started over.

I know I need to apply a UV protective layer or they will quickly yellow again. I did read Particlewave's recommendation the best way is to have a professional shop do the clear coat. And I may have learned my lesson the hard way he is right. But, I just have to inquire if anyone has successfully used a UV protection layer on polished up headlights? The 3M Quick Headlight Clear Coat wipes caught my attention, so I just have to ask if anyone has used them successfully?


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Old 06-24-2019, 10:01 AM   #2
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May have to give that a shot at some point. No experience with it, but I have used the Meguiar's UV spray coating with good results. Applied on the final polish and it adhered.
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Old 06-24-2019, 10:48 AM   #3
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I would think ( but don't know ) that after all the sanding/polishing a good DIY UV clear coat might be 303 protectant . Definitely not a long term stand alone solution but if you were to apply it every 6 months ( ? ) it should work . That product is highly recommended . If you wax your car every 6 months then apply some 303 at the same time .
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Old 06-24-2019, 12:25 PM   #4
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I just clear coated my lights with the same high quality auto clear that I just painted my bumper with. They look like new again.
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Old 06-24-2019, 12:50 PM   #5
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Thanks for the heads up on the Rust-Oleum. I recently sanded my lights and will try either the 3M wipes or the Meguiars UV spray until I find a more permanent solution. The description on the Meguiars headlight coating says its good for 1 year
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Old 06-24-2019, 02:59 PM   #6
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I've had good luck with the automotive clear coat from automotivetouchup.com.
Not much luck with anything else.
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Old 06-24-2019, 03:17 PM   #7
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I see you completely removed the headlight. How were the seals around the light and are the reusable? The only thing keeping me from removing my lights to do the same is those darn cracked seals.
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Old 06-24-2019, 06:04 PM   #8
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I see you completely removed the headlight. How were the seals around the light and are the reusable? The only thing keeping me from removing my lights to do the same is those darn cracked seals.
from another post, but I used it too...bought 10 feet and got it in a day.

"This maybe common knowledge but I thought I share it anyway. My headlight seals/gaskets were old and deteriorated. Did some searching and wasn't finding much. Finally I came across an old thread on another forum and thought I'd try it. Here are the results"

Thus seal:

https://www.mcmaster.com/1129a992
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Old 06-24-2019, 07:54 PM   #9
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I see you completely removed the headlight. How were the seals around the light and are the reusable? The only thing keeping me from removing my lights to do the same is those darn cracked seals.
The black "rubber" gaskets around the headlights were in good (not perfect) shape. I searched and the gaskets are not available as separate Porsche replacement items apart from the headlights. Odd they are not replaceable as they do deteriorate, although I might ultimately give the gasket sold by the foot a try.
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Old 06-24-2019, 08:06 PM   #10
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I've had good luck with the automotive clear coat from automotivetouchup.com.
Not much luck with anything else.
This stuff?

Did you use it on your headlights? Have you detailed how you did it if you did? I haven't seen any posts from you where you did it in my headlight refinishing searches. Did you spray it on wet sanded consistently dull headlights? I really like all your input. Thank you for sharing it all.
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Old 06-24-2019, 08:16 PM   #11
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No problem

Yep, that's the stuff. I never detailed any method, but I've used it on headlights and my rear bumper after a small paint repair.
I start with either 200 or 400 grit, depending on the condition. If there are actual divots in the plastic from rock strikes, I'll use the 200 as it is very aggressive. Otherwise, a moderate sanding with 400 to remove all of the old clear, then 800. I don't recommend going much higher than that, but maybe my experience is different from others. All wet sanding, BTW.

The 800 leaves something for the clear to bite.
I've also never had any luck with multiple coats. I usually just lay on one thick coat, which is tricky to do without runs, but once you get a feel for it, it gets easier.

The bottom line? If I had to do it again, I'd probably just ask a paint shop. It's a pain and so many things can go wrong.
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Old 06-25-2019, 07:17 PM   #12
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I really don't understand the craze with clear coating the headlight lenses.

just apply a lamin-x film and be done with it. same protective effect (if not better) than clear coating AND it is way easier to apply AND it can be easily removed when damaged. I've used it on all my cars.
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Old 06-25-2019, 07:49 PM   #13
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You'll never convince me that film looks as good or will last anywhere near as long as a properly done clear coat.

A painter should do them for around $50 and it will last a decade or more.
That's cheaper than having a professional install film that may last a year or two.

My opinion...

Last edited by particlewave; 06-25-2019 at 07:51 PM.
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Old 06-26-2019, 05:25 AM   #14
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You'll never convince me that film looks as good or will last anywhere near as long as a properly done clear coat.

A painter should do them for around $50 and it will last a decade or more.
That's cheaper than having a professional install film that may last a year or two.

My opinion...
I completely agree.
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Old 06-26-2019, 11:27 AM   #15
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assuming you have access to a painter who knows what they are doing, uses quality materials (no way you will get quality clear coat plus the cost of labor for $50) and the job is done correctly - even then I seriously doubt 10 years of durability in everyday driving.

I completely disagree, but hey - to each his own. My headlights will remain perfect underneath when the film is removed
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Old 06-26-2019, 02:54 PM   #16
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People get them done by pros for $50-$75 all the time. The painter will just hit them while doing a bigger job so it's not a hassle. And yes, proper UV clear coat lasts about a decade in the sun. If it didn't, your car would look terrible.
My suggestion is a quality clear, followed by a clear vinyl to protect the paint from rock chips.

Whatever floats your boat.
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Old 07-08-2019, 02:00 PM   #17
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Update 3M Wipes

I tried the 3M wipes last night and would not recommend.

The instructions state to use the leading edge of the included wipes to apply the clearcoat, but the wipes were so saturated they ended up leaving a bumpy finish that I had to sand off.
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Old 07-09-2019, 02:43 PM   #18
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Those wipes would be a waste of money, sorry to say.

If you want to have them clear-coated, the only clear you should use is one with a proper hardener...those single stage ones you can buy at your local auto parts store won't hold up. Same goes for the single stage touch up paints...it may look OK for a while, but it won't last without a hardener.

If you can't find a bodyshop to do so, don't fret. After all, how long did it take for your headlights to get sandblasted from the road or UV damage? 18 years?

You've got the tools you need to give a quick buff in the future.
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Old 07-09-2019, 10:13 PM   #19
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Those wipes would be a waste of money, sorry to say.

If you want to have them clear-coated, the only clear you should use is one with a proper hardener...those single stage ones you can buy at your local auto parts store won't hold up. Same goes for the single stage touch up paints...it may look OK for a while, but it won't last without a hardener.

If you can't find a bodyshop to do so, don't fret. After all, how long did it take for your headlights to get sandblasted from the road or UV damage? 18 years?

You've got the tools you need to give a quick buff in the future.
Eastwood makes a clear coat paint in a spray can that has hardner in it. once you activate it, you have to use it. Last time I looked it was $50 a can. I put a clear coat over my headlights 3 years ago and they still look brand new. I sprayed them while I was painting my bumpers.
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Old 07-11-2019, 12:28 PM   #20
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I've heard of those...haven't been able to source locally in Canada. Those paints and clears with the hardener (single use...good for 12 hours?) look like they'd be very handy.

Sure better than mixing and all the mess I have now!
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