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DIY: Smoked Turn Signals
DIY: Smoked Turn Signals
Published by cyphr
07-09-2008
DIY: Smoked Turn Signals

After custom fitting a sheet of tinted lamin-x to the front and rear signals for a few months, the thickness of the film (17 mil) started to get the better of me. Since the film was so thick, there was a very noticeable outline of where the lamin-x was placed and frankly, looked really cheap... so I decided to spray tint them
Now the directions for most spray tints i.e. VHT Night Shades instruct you to clean the surface of the lens then spray it directly on. This is all wrong and the final product will suffer greatly not only in terms of shine and finish, but also with durability. My car is a daily driver and here up in the Northeast, winter salt takes a toll on any unprotected finish. This DIY is how to spray tint that not only looks good, but will also stand up to the elements.


Time for DIY : ~2hrs

Parts needed
- 800, 1500, 2000 grit wet/dry sandpaper
- Blue painters tape
- Newspaper
- Soapy water (in both spray bottle and bowl)
- 2 cans Tint spray (I used a spray tint made by Tamiya found at most hobby stores. Two cans were plenty for the signal lights but if you're doing the entire lamp, buy more.)
- 1 can Clear coat (I used Tamiya clear. Again, buy more if you're planning on doing the entire lamp)
- Buffer (PC 7424)
- Medium and Fine Polishing compound (Menzerna IP & FPII)

Step 1: Mask

Mask the area you want to tint with blue painters tape.


Step 2: Surface prep
Dunk the 800 grit sandpaper into the bowl of soapy water, spray the area to be sanded a few times and begin sanding. Continue wetsanding while keeping both the area and the sandpaper well lubricated. Stop when you have sanded away the gloss. Note: That's soapy water in the Zaino bottle.



Step 3: Mask again (if necessary)

My sanding job ate away at the painters tape so I re-taped and masked a larger area with newspaper in preparation for paint.



Step 4: Painting
Not necessary, but a trick people like to use when painting with rattle cans is to lightly heat the can before spraying. This atomizes the paint better which allows for a more even coat. Do this by running the can under warm water for 5 seconds and then shaking the can. Repeat until the can is slightly warm after shaking. Caution: Do at your own risk. Heating a sealed canister with a propellant may cause the canister to explode. Warm water only. Don't think you can save some time by breaking out your heat gun . Paint using long even strokes. Start spraying before the area and end after. Remember to use lighter coats instead of thicker coats to prevent running. Allow 5-10 minutes in between coats. Stop when you have achieved the proper darkness. Apply the clear the same as you did the tint. Three coats of clear is sufficient.

After first coat


Since I wanted a darker tint, I sprayed an additional 6 thin coats. Here is a picture after the clear.



Step 5: Removing orange peel
The purpose of this step is to remove the orange peel that has occurred during the painting process. Gently wetsand beginning with the 1500 grit then work up to the 2000. It is especially important to keep the surface and sand paper wet during this step as the finer grit sandpapers tend to gunk up quickly. Your goal here is to remove the orange peel while minimizing the amount of clear removed. It may help to wipe down the area occasionally to make sure you aren't sanding through the surface layer.

If you don't know what orange peel looks like...


After sanding, your lights should look like this:


Step 6: Polishing
At this point, you're probably wondering why you just ruined your perfectly glossy finish. Before you send me an angry pm about how you just wasted an hour prepping and painting just to end up with a horrible product, break out your buffer. For this process I used combination of an orange pad with IP followed with a white pad with FPII, with an isopropyl wipedown in between products. Follow up with your favorite sealant and voila, you're done!


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  #1  
By Ch3rry_m3 on 07-09-2008, 04:52 PM
nice write up i just decided to remove my tail light tints yesterday, because of the lack of gloss.. i wish i read this earlier
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  #2  
By dreamk on 07-21-2008, 08:19 AM
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A+. wait if i don't own a pc? wat can i use?
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  #3  
By cyphr on 07-22-2008, 03:50 PM
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You can apply most polishes by hand as well.
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  #4  
By simp0man on 07-23-2008, 02:20 AM
That is good to know, didn't think of that.
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  #5  
By Sam12345 on 07-25-2008, 03:34 AM
is this removable?
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  #6  
By cyphr on 07-25-2008, 11:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam12345 View Post
is this removable?
Yes, the spray tint I used is lacquer based so any lacquer remover should remove it completely.
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  #7  
By karlytobmw on 03-20-2009, 05:07 PM
Thanks, great DIY!
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  #8  
By Tommy350 on 03-24-2009, 01:31 AM
the side markers look great!... is the light output the same? after tinting/ smoking them?
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  #9  
By cyphr on 03-24-2009, 09:10 PM
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Yep, the light output is essentially the same.
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  #10  
By rubber_ducky on 04-18-2009, 02:05 PM
Great DIY.

Just picked up some VHT nite shades and intend to do this. One question... how long did you let the clear cure before wetsanding/polishing?

TIA
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  #11  
By cyphr on 05-01-2009, 05:38 PM
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It depends on the clear you use. It can be anywhere from a couple to 4-6hrs depending on the product/weather conditions.
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  #12  
By E92-Lighting on 05-01-2009, 05:42 PM
nice info to know
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  #13  
By 951's 330i on 05-06-2009, 09:23 PM
Going to do this either tomorrow or the next day. So if we dont have a buffer we can still do it by hand right?
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  #14  
By Aramel on 06-13-2009, 05:11 PM
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Quote:
For this process I used combination of an orange pad with IP followed with a white pad with FPII, with an isopropyl wipedown in between products. Follow up with your favorite sealant and voila, you're done!
Could you be a bit more detailed about this. I'm unsure about what type of polishing compound you're talking about as well as sealant. Thanks,
Last edited by Aramel; 06-13-2009 at 07:20 PM.
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  #15  
By cyphr on 06-13-2009, 05:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aramel View Post
Could be be a bit more detailed about this. I'm unsure about what type of polishing compound you're talking about as well as sealant. Thanks,
Menzerna Intensive Polish (IP) is basically a medium strength polish. Menzerna Final Polish II (FPII) is a light strength polish. You don't have to use only Menzerna polishes though; any brand medium polish followed by a light polish will work just the same. For sealant, top it with the wax/sealant you would normally use on the rest of your car. Hope this helps!
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  #16  
By WapArtist on 05-02-2014, 06:19 PM
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I am not finished with this. Tomorrow I will smooth this down and possibly clear coat if you think that makes sense. I had rain approaching within a few hours and had to get the assemblies back in plus I wanted it to cure back at my garage. Was my first time and I went one coat too dark but it still works

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  #17  
By GR33NMACH1N3 on 05-03-2014, 10:44 AM
Didn't know you could get it to shine like that! Thanks!
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  #18  
By WapArtist on 05-03-2014, 04:09 PM
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I actually did the 2000 grit today and hit with final Polish by hand. Then 4 clear coats lacquer only. When that cures I will repo list with machine.

Here is an experiment I did today from SlickMod. It is 20 or 35% tint that is precut. And can put on using the wet method. Very cheap way to change it a little and totally removable. If doing again I would use a hair dyer and maybe wrap the curves but overall I like it.

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