View Full Version : Product review: 3M headlight polish kit.

04-06-2010, 11:28 PM
My headlights where so dim, I used highbeams to be able to see ANYTHING at night, and nobody ever blinked thier highbeams back at me(they do that if you accidently leave highbeams on) Normal beams you could not see the road.

Replaced the bulbs with high end '30% brighter!'.. did'nt really do anything.. hell, I found one of my two headlights actualy had that type allready.

Tryed out the polishing kit.

WHAT A DIFFRENCE! like brand new. I was sceptical it was gonna work but when I heard the new plastic covers where $100 *each* and the headlight kit was $30 I went for the kit.

Intresting system. uses 500grit, then 800grit, then a 3000grit 'trizac' or somesuch pad that has foam and basicly is designed to be used wet and retain water. Just this alone restored like 90% of the clarity in just 10~ mins per headlight! (I removed the headlights for ease of polishing but it shows doing inplace with masking tape around the bulb)
The final polish stage, done by loading a foam pad dealie with goop. restored the final 10% or so and made it clear as new.
I forgot to take before/after photos, but basicly they looked this bad:
And now they look clear as new! no exaduration! I did'nt think it could work so well, I thought for SURE some of the damage had to be inside.

The amount of light that gets through on lowbeams must be at least 5x as much considering I could not see ANYTHING before and they are great now. Better then my hibeams used to be.

Maybe I should'nt be posting this as its a little close to spam, but I was amazed how well it worked at polishing. Especialy that 3000grit trizac(?) paper. Very non loading too, just a damp paper towl unloaded the 500grit and 800 grit easy, and the 3000 grit did'nt seem to load at all.
Only took about 15~20 mins per light with the polishing stage and insert/removal from the car. Kit looks good for at least 6~8 headlights. I only needed one sanding pad for both headlights and it comes with 4 of the 800grit and 6 of the 500grit. (Only 1 of the 3000grit but it seems to hold up ok)

Don't put up with dim headlights. And don't bother with those expensive bulbs either, I could'nt notice any diffrence beween my old bulbs and the '30% brighter!' $25 bulbs. (they where both non blue/annoying bulbs mind you)

the kit was very simple to follow instructions includeing tips on keeping the paper from loading, basicly assumeing you only knew how to use a drill.
The mandrel included is not a standard velcro one, but has a 1/2" foam pad behind the velcro to help spread pressure on the sanding paper.

I felt mildly riped off at the price considering how few sanding disks and such where included, but after seeing it do 2 headlights with just 1 disk each (and they still don't look half bad) im sold.

04-06-2010, 11:36 PM
Was planning similar on mine, your results do not surprise me in the least, have never used any 3M product, period, that I was not fully pleased and usually impressed with.

04-06-2010, 11:38 PM
I was sceptical it was gonna work but when I heard the new plastic covers where $100 *each* and the headlight kit was $30 I went for the kit.

Is it the same kit as this, which costs about $14 including shipping? http://www.amazon.com/3M-Headlight-Lens-Restoration-System/dp/B001AIZ5HY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=automotive&qid=1270611328&sr=8-1. I may spring for that, as my headlights are really dulled.

04-06-2010, 11:51 PM
aostling: Looks the exact same as the pic I posted/kit I have so yes. same one.
$15 is a MUCH more awsome price then lordcos $28 (just checked recite), course I kinda expected them to rip me off but oh well, still worth $28 I say!
(Note however that amazon url is actualy reselling from 'just suspension' with only 83% posative reviews (kinda poor) and that amazon.com sells it for $14 before shiping, beware who you are actualy buying from when you buy from amazon! check http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/B001AIZ5HY/ref=dp_olp_new?ie=UTF8&qid=1270611328&sr=8-1&condition=new )

04-07-2010, 12:05 AM
Is that dulling from road film buildup, abrasion from dust, or mineral deposits from washing, waxing, and weathering? The lenses on my Jeep could use that. I think in our case it's burned on road film.

04-07-2010, 12:13 AM
I have no clue what exactly causes the distortion/haze, I know it wasent washing off.. Could be a mix of abrasion and buildup. Seemed to happen moreso over my lowbeams the highbeams (Due to higher temp of plastic making it softer due to daytime running lights?)

the 500grit takes material off amazingly fast to the point where I wore a dust mask and turned my shop evac fan on. Not really *that* bad but I dislike inhailing strange dust and I could smell it getting into the air. Whatevers on there, that 500grit will strip it off and even take out small scratchs outta the underlieing plastic.

Using a damp paper towl cleaned out the sandpaper in just a few wipes, and was needed many times, it removes an amazing amount of plastic quickly.

the 800grit was much less agressive and cloging.

Your Old Dog
04-07-2010, 06:44 AM
Keep in mind when these plastics are new they are dipped in a solution that hardens them off. This means you had to polish through the hardening and haze to get to fresh plastic. Not that it's a big problem but you may find yourself doing this a little more frequently in the future.

I always thought the haze to be a combination of sand/dirt shotgun blast like hits you on the arm and face when on the motorcyle.....aw crap....when on the Harley ;) I also think mineral deposites from common rain also cloud them up, maybe some CLR would help. It did wonders on the mineral deposites on my boat motor.

04-07-2010, 09:59 AM
I polished off my hard coating,too. I knew that it was there. Short of replacing the headlights completely,what can can you do?

04-07-2010, 10:13 AM
I think the primary factor is UV for in the breakdown of plastic and other materials.

I did not buy a kit but rather plastic polish (heavy, med, cleaner) and fine grit wet/dry paper in 800, 1000, and 1200. My results were just like yours in about 30 minutes or so. It took more time to tape them off but worked really well. I barely used any of the polish at all as it was mostly water and the paper that did the work.

I only used a 16th of a full sheet of each grit for both headlights since it never loaded up or lost grit.

My 10 year old lenses were like new afterwards.

I have no clue what exactly causes the distortion/haze, I know it wasent washing off.. Could be a mix of abrasion and buildup. Seemed to happen moreso over my lowbeams the highbeams (Due to higher temp of plastic making it softer due to daytime running lights?)

04-07-2010, 11:48 AM
Some manufacturers have different formulations for their headlamp lense plastic. Some have "hard facing" and some don't. BTW, the "hard face" you encountered was actually a hard polymer "clear coat" that is sprayed on much like the clear coat applied to paint jobs on late model cars.

The plastic is usually clear coated to prevent damage from UV rays and caustic chemicals in car washes, bugs, and various cleaners.

We had an ongoing problem with the police cruisers headlamps hazing over mainly because Ford didn't see fit to "hard face" the lamp lenses. At more than $100 apiece, I was "under the gun" to find an economical solution.

We tried almost every headlamp cleaning kit available. Some worked well, mainly because there was no "hard facing" on the lenses. But, be aware of the fact that cleaned, "repaired" lenses will haze over quite rapidly after being polished.

"hard face" lenses are a bit more of a challenge. The hard facing polymer coating is more like painted clear coat, and will resist most efforts to make them clear. One of my frequent contacts had much better luck sanding the lenses down with body shop type sandpaper, and applying his own clear coat to the lenses, once he got the surfaces smooth. This treatment, though a bit more expensive, seems to last quite a bit longer than polishing the plastic.

The way I discovered this treatment was from a guy who restores alloy wheels. Factiory alloy wheels are polished, then clear coated to preserve their shine. When an alloy wheel is repaired, the final step is to polish the whole wheel, and apply a clear coat. The factory type clear coat is what was used on the headlamp lenses.

04-07-2010, 01:56 PM
I, too, have noticed that the lenses tend to become cloudy rather quickly after sanding and polishing. Short of a new clear coat, I've had pretty good results with keeping a good coat of automotive wax on the lenses.

Mad Scientist
04-07-2010, 02:44 PM
Just last week I was that my local horror freight and bought one of their kits. $10 It actually worked quite well. Kit consisted of two foam backed 1200 grit sandpaper pads and a mounting disc for your electric drill. After sanding there was a third foam pad to use with their polishing compound.

It produced a very noticeable improvement, now how long it will last that's to be seen.

A little automotive history. At one time all cars were required to have glass sealed beam headlights to eliminate just this sort of problem, headlights dimming with age.

04-07-2010, 09:05 PM
I will support the kits. Mine came from Autozone and was a 3M brand. I had a coupon and it was on sale.

What a difference in a short amount of time. I only used enough of the supplies to do one car and had enough to do the neighbors. Got enough out of the job to pay for the kit plus a bit.

If you headlights are yellow and crusty this is not a bad thing to do.


04-07-2010, 10:06 PM
Picked up a Turtle Wax kit today from Wally World...probably try it tomorrow if it's not raining. Yes, I'll post a report...


04-08-2010, 10:20 AM
I polished off my hard coating,too. I knew that it was there. Short of replacing the headlights completely,what can can you do?

There are aftermarket films that can be applied to the lense to help protect the surface from sand blasting, etc.. I think that 3M makes at least one type of film for this purpose. I know you can buy pre-cut sheets for various BMW's. Not really cheap, but less than a new set of headlights.