Rock Chips and Suggestions on Headlight Restoration Product
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    1. #1

      Rock Chips and Suggestions on Headlight Restoration Product

      15.5 S60 with 69,000 miles on it. I'm under no delusion vehicles stay new forever. Car isn't ceramic wrapped so nature's worked its magic on headlights and hood with usual rock chipping. Headlights have some pitting as to be expected (see pictures). Any good product for smoothing out and restoring headlights with rock chips to improve visibility?

      Thanks.

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    3. #2
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      Iím in the same boat as you. My whole hood needs a repaint taking it down to bare metal. Front bumper need replacing as itís cheaper to replace than repaint. Headlights look the same as yours. May go down the road of replacing with used ones just in better condition


      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

    4. #3
      Quote Originally Posted by limey View Post
      Iím in the same boat as you. My whole hood needs a repaint taking it down to bare metal. Front bumper need replacing as itís cheaper to replace than repaint. Headlights look the same as yours. May go down the road of replacing with used ones just in better condition


      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
      My hood has pitting, but I couldn't justify a repaint. I have one spot that could use touchup paint because it did hit with enough force to take away paint. It's probably about the size of a BB. Other chips you can see when sun shines off vehicle but aren't glaringly bad. I'd say a few dozen. If I were anal enough I might purchase one of these and fill in those small chips. Though it might do more harm and come out looking worse than it is now.

      Pretty much, if you're going to shell out for a repaint, I'd wrap the repainted hood. That'll be a nice $1000+ investment if not more.

      Far as headlights, I'm sure those rock chips affect the clarity and brightness of my headlights at night, which is why I am asking for potential remedies. Hate to think how much Volvo would charge to do a restoration. Probably isn't cheap! - Has anyone paid a dealer in U.S. and what is price?

      Last edited by MyVolvoS60; 05-24-2020 at 11:28 PM.

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    6. #4
      Senior Member Wayne T5's Avatar
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      You should search the internet for headlight refinishing how-to's - there are a ton of them. Go through various sandpapers then polishers and finally a finish coating. Probably best to just remove the headlights first before doing anything because they pop out in like 10 seconds. I may take this project on with my 105k mile XC70.

      Other option like was suggested would be to just get a set of low mile used ones from a recycler. Yours are just the regular headlights so they shouldn't be that expensive.

      Here's one for $120.

      https://www.ebay.com/itm/2014-2018-V...ry!44072!US!-1
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    7. #5
      Junior Member rallyr32's Avatar
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      My $0.02: I've head great success with polishing up headlights that were mostly flat. The P3 ones are a bit more tricky to get right because of the curved edges so just be patient and use caution. My indy charges $59 for a restoration; Dealership I *think* was $99. Walmart is $29. I tried WM on a vehicle from work and they did a surprisingly decent job. YMMV.
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    8. #6
      Member spiked60's Avatar
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      I am in a similar boat, I've done 3m restore before and it was an improvement (on an older Subaru)

      I can say though, once you get them clean, I recommend lamin-x (or any other brand), but the thick protective layer is great for stopping any new damage, will be doing this to my lights next.
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    9. #7
      Quote Originally Posted by Wayne T5 View Post
      You should search the internet for headlight refinishing how-to's - there are a ton of them. Go through various sandpapers then polishers and finally a finish coating. Probably best to just remove the headlights first before doing anything because they pop out in like 10 seconds. I may take this project on with my 105k mile XC70.

      Other option like was suggested would be to just get a set of low mile used ones from a recycler. Yours are just the regular headlights so they shouldn't be that expensive.

      Here's one for $120.

      https://www.ebay.com/itm/2014-2018-V...ry!44072!US!-1
      Rock chipping on those but I get the general idea on replacement. Used Set might be around same cost as a restoration. I have googled restoration and it says average price is $80-150 though not sure what dealer charges.

      I was hoping for feedback from people here on the Volvo forum who have done the process and had good results. Versus a general google.

    10. #8
      Member beachnut's Avatar
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      First off I don't think you'll be able to restore your headlights with the expectation that they'll be like new with that amount of sandblasting/pitting. That would require new lenses (if you can buy them, then it's a pain to break the sonic weld), or used headlights like Wayne suggested. I know that's probably not your expectation but just saying. The factory UV coating is very thin. It looks like your damage is past that coating and into the polycarbonate. I could be wrong as I have never had to restore a set in that condition before. Maybe you can get them "better", maybe not. If those were mine I'd grab a good used set, polish them up and film them.

      I've been doing my own headlight restoration for several years now and trying different approaches/products. They are so many trains of thought it can be dizzying. Most agree that when the UV coating is shot it's time to take it off, through sanding typically. There's the 3M kit that a lot of people like, including me, but lately I've been wanting more steps than just 500/800/Trizact 3000, and I don't like their rubbing compound. Recently I've been using these Mirka discs https://www.autogeek.net/mirka-3-inch-variety-pack.html , although for tougher jobs I still break out the 3M 500 & 800 discs and do the rest with Mirka. These are all 3" discs and I use a hand sander like this https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 . After sanding I like to use this Wolfgang kit with a 3" wheel on my DA polisher at 4000rpm https://www.autogeek.net/plastik-lens-cleaning.html . After that you have two choices (actually 3 if you feel like 2K clear), either film the lights or use a coating , otherwise the lights will yellow again, and the "protectant" in most kits doesn't last long at all. I've been using Opti-Lens, but it's spendy: https://www.opticoat.com/product/opt...coating-10-cc/ , now I'm getting ready to try this newer product from McKee's 37: https://www.mckees37.com/headlight-coating.html as it should be more economical. Finally, my opinion on film ... stick to the thinner stuff, like 8mil. Lamin-x was mentioned and I hate it. I have tried it twice but at 12+mil thickness I find it too hard for the newer curved lights, like our '15 XC60. Perhaps I'm not very patient ...
      Last edited by beachnut; 05-25-2020 at 02:00 PM.
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    11. #9
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      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDB5U4QUdD0

      This is one of the best videos I've seen on debunking bad products. I believe he concludes 3M and Maguire's(?) to be the best. The results for both of those are great. No help on the hood, though. My best advice is touch-up paint and then some of that scratch clear coat to smooth out the lines.

    12. #10
      Junior Member ckmack's Avatar
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      In my opinion, if you try to polish those headlights you will not see any noticeable improvement to the clarity of light to the naked eye. Instead, you would be ruining the UV protection coating that is on the headlights and they will degrade faster than normal.
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    13. #11
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      For the head light restoration, Project Farm on youtube just did a couple comparisons in a video a few days ago. He found that the Sylvania kit was really really good, and not expensive.

      Edit: Looks like anticus already posted the video. I can't since I am at work.

    14. #12
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      Quote Originally Posted by ckmack View Post
      Instead, you would be ruining the UV protection coating that is on the headlights and they will degrade faster than normal.
      That's why if you are doing it properly, you use some UV protection after you are finished cleaning the lens, plenty of different products out there either spray on or film.

      Best method I have found is various grits of sandpaper, a bucket of water and a bunch of elbow grease. Sand horizontally first, then when you have a nice even finish move onto the next grade of sandpaper and sand vertically, that way you can see where you need to pay attention to until you again get a nice even finish. Onto the next grade, go back to horizontal. I think I started with 800 grit on some I did a while back and went to 2,000 or 2,200 with 3 or 4 different grits in between. A good amount of work, but when you get to the 2,000+ grit and start to polish the headlights lens it's pretty satisfying.

    15. #13
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      Quote Originally Posted by abcdefghii View Post
      That's why if you are doing it properly, you use some UV protection after you are finished cleaning the lens, plenty of different products out there either spray on or film.

      Best method I have found is various grits of sandpaper, a bucket of water and a bunch of elbow grease. Sand horizontally first, then when you have a nice even finish move onto the next grade of sandpaper and sand vertically, that way you can see where you need to pay attention to until you again get a nice even finish. Onto the next grade, go back to horizontal. I think I started with 800 grit on some I did a while back and went to 2,000 or 2,200 with 3 or 4 different grits in between. A good amount of work, but when you get to the 2,000+ grit and start to polish the headlights lens it's pretty satisfying.
      +1. That's the way to do it. Patience is the key, and don't skip grades.
      I put the plastic film from ebay on mine. Works great.
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    16. #14
      Quote Originally Posted by abcdefghii View Post
      That's why if you are doing it properly, you use some UV protection after you are finished cleaning the lens, plenty of different products out there either spray on or film.

      Best method I have found is various grits of sandpaper, a bucket of water and a bunch of elbow grease. Sand horizontally first, then when you have a nice even finish move onto the next grade of sandpaper and sand vertically, that way you can see where you need to pay attention to until you again get a nice even finish. Onto the next grade, go back to horizontal. I think I started with 800 grit on some I did a while back and went to 2,000 or 2,200 with 3 or 4 different grits in between. A good amount of work, but when you get to the 2,000+ grit and start to polish the headlights lens it's pretty satisfying.
      1. I want to ask a few questions, so if I venture to try this on my own, I don't f*ck things up to put it bluntly. Do you use a wooden block or what do you wrap the sandpaper around for best results?

      2. Do you use a spray to moisten the lights or what is the preferred method to wet sand. After sanding with 800 and going up to 2000, what did you do in between? Did you wipe it off with soapy water or do you continue to move up grit without doing anything in between? I .E. Do you polish in between say 800 --- > 1000 etc or just use the 800. Go to 1000 and when all finished polish it up?

      3. Do you use horizontal motions on all grits in same direction?

    17. #15
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      1. No wooden block, just hand, makes it easier to follow the contours of the headlight. I think some people do use a block, but as I mentioned, I prefer to feel the contour of the lens and with a block would be afraid of flat spots.

      2. No spray, I kept a bucket of water and just soaked the sand paper in there for about 15-20 seconds. In between grits I just wiped it with a paper towel to make sure I had not missed any areas, with it dry you can see that you have a uniform haze across the lens, then onto the next grit. You can spray the headlight if you wanted, it's personal preference really, the important piece is making sure to keep it wet. Depending on how bad yours are, you may be able to start with 1000 or 1500 grit, the ones I worked on had a scratch that I wanted to get out of the lens.

      3. I am not 100% sure what you are asking here, but I just did a back and forth / up and down, not just a single direction.

      Trying to find the video I watched as it was definitely helpful, but coming up blank on the exact one I followed. Searching headlight lens restore brings a ton of results, just see if you can find one where they are using sandpaper. I'd definitely watch a couple first though, just to get a good idea of what you should be looking for when sanding, I probably watched half a dozen different ones or so.
      Last edited by abcdefghii; 05-27-2020 at 08:48 AM.

    18. #16
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      A flexible backing material that helps to spread the finger pressure is ideal. A stiff block will flatten and distort the lens. It needs to allow the paper to conform to the lens. Be sure to avoid sanding-in any uneven spots, as it will distort focus of the lens. I bought the 3M kit, mostly for the polishing pad. After I read the directions, I set the dry sanding discs aside and went to the hand-held wet/dry. Too great an opportunity to sand in a lot of unevenness with a spinning disc.
      When wet sanding, there is no such thing as too much water. I've used spray bottles, the bucket method, and also flooded from the garden hose. If using too little water, a pasty sluff will develop, which is kind of satisfying, but not productive. Better to keep it rinsed away so the paper doesn't slide around on top of a layer of plastic paste. A little dish soap in the water helps, as it reduces the surface tension of the water. I read that about the soap, somewhere, and may even be true, but I know it doesn't hurt, Just be sure to do a very even sanding at each grit of wet/dry. Rinse well between grits and dry it off and inspect. At some point you may have to decide to let some chips remain, if there are bad ones.
      Some people say to sand in a linear mode at 90 degrees at grit change to better see the effectiveness of each grit. You're looking for a very even appearance at each grit, and don't be alarmed at the milky opaque look of the lens at the beginning. It will be crystal clear when the process is complete.
      Like abcdefghii says, watch some YouTube videos. You'll soon figure out which ones are good. You can skip the ones about coating the lights with weird household products, but be sure to search for "clear wrap headlights". I bought the film cheap on eBay, and it works great. The best chemical treatment only last 6 months. My clear vinyl headlight wrap is still crystal clear at over a year, parked outside, facing South.
      2009 XC90 FWD 3.2, 2013 S60 T5
      In the past: '89 745, '91 940, '82 242, '67 122S, '67 123GT, '71 142E, '62 PV544.

    19. #17
      I spoke to my neighbor today and he made an excellent suggestion....Pick up a pair of rock chipped ones from Salvage yard and first practice on those to get the feel for things before moving on to your vehicle. This way, you can see what technique works and then attempt your own car.

      Think I might heed his suggestion to gain a little practice.

    20. #18
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      That's a great idea, doesn't even need to be a Volvo headlight, just something with a lens to practice on.

    21. #19
      Quote Originally Posted by abcdefghii View Post
      That's a great idea, doesn't even need to be a Volvo headlight, just something with a lens to practice on.
      Yep. Told him I never had that epiphany and that he definitely was thinking outside the box. So that's what I'll aim for and see what results I get. And if I'm happy with my abilities and technique, then attempt on my car. Better to make mistakes on a donor pair of headlights than screw up an expensive set on my Volvo!

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