Tuesday, January 3, 2012

BeaterBlog Product Review: Mothers Headlight Restoration Kit

Back in the 80's sealed beam glass headlights where systematically replaced by plastic headlights with aerodynamic shapes. After years of UV radiation and too many miles those clear plastic lenses turn an opaque yellow and your headlights get dramatically dimmer. Mothers kit promises to make you car both more attractive and safer. Results inside.

How did your lenses get gingivitis? When new, plastic headlights have a coating to protect them from ultra violet radiation which turns them yellow. Rocks, sand, and debris wear away the coating as you drive leaving the lens unprotected. The solution is to sand the yellow surface away, polish the lens clear again, and ideally re-coat with UV stable clear-coat. The Mothers kit leaves out the last step but does include wet sanding pads, polish, and the power ball to apply the polish with. The wet sanding pads feel like 600 grade to about 2000 grade in four steps.

To put this kit to the test we went searching for the yellowest headlights in the parking lot at work. The clear winner was our 2002 BMW 325i pool car. Its been parked outside for the last four years for maximum UV exposure. Peering into the lenses, it was difficult to see the bulbs behind it and night time performance was dismal. So, armed with sanding pads and a mission our intern Nick got to work wet sanding.

Scrubbing off all the yellow took a surprising amount of effort. If your lenses look this bad, consider getting some 400 grade to start with. After nearly 30 minutes of sanding we wiped them clean and began polishing. The power ball attaches to a drill and works well if you don't sling polish all over yourself. Five minutes later we wiped it clean with the included cloth and called it good enough.

The Verdict: The picture doesn't quite show how much improved the clarity of the lens is. The bulb is clearly visible and the headlights shine much farther down the road at night. Driving down a dark dirt road at 60mph is much more comfortable. For less than an hour of effort and $20 that's not too bad. How long until it turns yellow again remains to be seen, but there's lots of polish left. Hopefully it'll only take a few minutes of polishing a few times a year.

Hat tip to intern Nick for doing all the work.

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