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BMW 3-Series (E90 E92) Forum > E90 / E92 / E93 3-series Technical Forums > Wash, Wax, Detailing and Cosmetic protection/repairs > Restoring Headlights, Can I use a Sander?



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      06-20-2013, 03:10 PM   #1
isosunrise
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Restoring Headlights, Can I use a Sander?

Plan on taking my bumper off to see whats going on with the AHL module on my e92 coupe. While the bumpers off seems like a good idea to sand the lights down and polish them up.

Ive done this before on an Acura Tl which has slim headlights and was able to use the 3m kit which is very effective. On a e92 headlights are larger and plastic on these lights are a lot thicker, rather then waste time with the 3M kit, figure it would be more effective to use an electric hand sander.

Anyone ever use this method? Would it be to harsh on the plastic? I cant imagine using a hand drill with the 3m Attachments, Id go through a few packs considering how thick this plastic is..
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      06-20-2013, 03:17 PM   #2
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Also looking for the same exact answer. Polishing wheel + cleaner from AutoZone helped but its still clouded.
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      06-20-2013, 03:20 PM   #3
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Just because the plastic looks thicker it doesn't mean that you'd have to remove more material. The oxidation is on top, it has nothing to do with the headlight thickness. You know that you can just get very fine sandpaper and wet sand it by hand to start right? Then polish as normal. No need for an electric sander.
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      06-20-2013, 03:29 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadow191 View Post
Just because the plastic looks thicker it doesn't mean that you'd have to remove more material. The oxidation is on top, it has nothing to do with the headlight thickness. You know that you can just get very fine sandpaper and wet sand it by hand to start right? Then polish as normal. No need for an electric sander.
I go extremes on projects like this. I Do hear what your saying about not removing more material however, I would like to get a all marks off and seal the headlight correctly on fresh plastic and pray for another 2-3 years with normal headlights.

Think the sander would speed up the process by 1-2 hours considering how fast it moves. Then polish as normal. How easy is it to remove headlight once bumper is off?
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      06-20-2013, 04:38 PM   #5
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before my headlights got oxidized i put on some clearbra over them and they still look good so far. After how many years did you start noticing the oxidation occur?
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      06-20-2013, 10:54 PM   #6
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Meg's PlastiX
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      06-21-2013, 09:09 AM   #7
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I believe a sander would be alittle overkill. Hand wet sand, and use either a polishing wheel(carefully) or polish by hand using a good plastic polish.
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      06-21-2013, 09:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magungo View Post
before my headlights got oxidized i put on some clearbra over them and they still look good so far. After how many years did you start noticing the oxidation occur?
Well I purchased the car used in April and noticed it right away. No chance for a clear bra Always wanted to do so if I purchased a brand new car or even got brand new headlights.
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      06-21-2013, 10:29 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ssmith96 View Post
Meg's PlastiX
Tried this method without sanding in the past and it didn't really do much. Actually got the 3m Kit last night and did a quick sand down on each light and cant lie, they came out pretty good.

Pics to come shortly.
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      06-21-2013, 10:49 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadow191 View Post
Just because the plastic looks thicker it doesn't mean that you'd have to remove more material. The oxidation is on top, it has nothing to do with the headlight thickness. You know that you can just get very fine sandpaper and wet sand it by hand to start right? Then polish as normal. No need for an electric sander.
This. OP, just use the 3M kit.
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      06-21-2013, 10:53 AM   #11
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3M kit work great if you take your time and do it properly.
After your done make sure you apply clearbra. Did it with my headlights and no hazing.
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      06-21-2013, 11:02 AM   #12
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Is this 3m kit available at normal auto part stores?
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      06-21-2013, 11:04 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marshall834 View Post
Is this 3m kit available at normal auto part stores?
You can get it at Walmart if you're near one or just order it on Amazon. I'm not sure if it's available at a normal auto part store though but I'm guessing they should. Make sure you wear a mask and some safety goggles. Inhaling the sand dust is not something you want to experience lol.
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      06-21-2013, 11:17 AM   #14
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It is advised to sand in one direction...left to right or right left. Not circular or a sander. If you want good results, put the time into it.
I had done this with my truck and the results were good.
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      06-21-2013, 05:23 PM   #15
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there's a new product out called 3m paint defender which is like a spray on clearbra. maybe you can put that onto the headlight afterwards for protection.
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      06-21-2013, 05:43 PM   #16
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I used the 3m kit last year and came out great! Im planning to do it again sometime probably after summer.
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      06-21-2013, 05:47 PM   #17
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Just use toothpaste, no need to sand anything.
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      06-21-2013, 05:54 PM   #18
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Use very fine sand paper (wet) if you use a sander. Look for 3M #2000 to #3000 as a final and maybe # 1200 to #1500 as a first step. The 3M paper will have SiC particles electroplated and 3M lens kit contains Al2O3. Very close to the #1200-#1500 grit.
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      06-21-2013, 07:25 PM   #19
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I have cleaned all of my headlights with a rubbing compound, and then a polishing compound. Attach a sheeps wool polisher (you can buy the attachment, and wool sleeve for $8 with tax at OSH 6" attachment is good) to a drill, and some elbow grease it will be as new. I've restored headlights that were oxidized for 10+ yrs, and it always comes out perfect. I use turtle wax for both rubbing compound and polishing compound.
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      06-24-2013, 09:50 AM   #20
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Here are the pics - sorry for the delay.

Forgot to take a before picture however my fog light (attached) had the same ware as my headlight. I did not restore the fog lights yet but you can get an idea of how bad the lights were.



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      06-24-2013, 10:05 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isosunrise View Post
I go extremes on projects like this. I Do hear what your saying about not removing more material however, I would like to get a all marks off and seal the headlight correctly on fresh plastic and pray for another 2-3 years with normal headlights.

Think the sander would speed up the process by 1-2 hours considering how fast it moves. Then polish as normal. How easy is it to remove headlight once bumper is off?
Going to extremes in detailing is not good unless you weren't getting results with less aggressive techniques. I usually do 1000 grit, 1500 grit, 2000 grit, then 3000 grit. I then follow the wet-sanding with a compound then a polish. Make sure to re-apply a sealant often or get a coating.
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