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Effective Cleaning Of Those Hid Headlight Lenses Ls430

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My 2001 LS430 HID Headlight lenses were getting pretty yellow. They have never been cleaned or the yellow hazed removed in 11 years. I read many threads on various products and procedures on how to clean the age off of these lenses. So, I thought if it was about removing oxidation why not use polishing compound and a buffer. I went to Advance Auto and they had copious amounts of headlight cleaning products for doing the job. Price range was $9.00-$29.95 with all kinds of various applications for doing the job. I picked up a can of Turtle Wax Polishing Compound for $$3.99. I then applied the compound to the lens using a pad and dabbed it like I would applying it to paint. I have a 1,400/1650 RPM Sears buffer with a Schlegel buffing pad. I liked the higher speed better to grind in the polishing compound. (Warning, do not use a high speed buffer, 5,000-7,000 RPM. You could melt the lens.) Almost instantly you could see results. If I missed the lens area and hit the paint, with the compound, there was no harm to the paint. I then applied a second coat to the lens and in about 2 minutes one side was done. If it wasn't for the nicks caused by little rocks and stones, the headlight would look like new. You could probably do it without the buffer but would take a little more time and elbow grease.

I took a picture of the left side after I hit a spot on it. The picture of the right side is the finish product.

This method really works well, hence the sharing with the forum.



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Thanks Zett. Very good to know. I have not had the yellowing on my '02 and, quite frankly, did not know that this problem still existed. I know it is common on early 90's cars but thought manufacturers had addressed and fixed the problem. Guess not. I also know from experience that hand polishing is a hard way to go and that a drill or polisher is best for good results.

Wonder how long your polishing will last??

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+1 for Daniel091's comment regarding a sealant. I did this to my headlights about 1.5 years ago, and I touched them up just two weeks ago, to give you an idea as to how long it'll last. They were starting to get a little yellow / cloudy. I went with another product, but the process is very similar. I will wax the headlights occasionally during the interim to keep the cloudiness at bay. I figure that touching them up every year to year and a half is very easy. I spent about 15 minutes for both headlights during my touch up. Initially, I spent over an hour back 1.5 years ago, but I also sanded, polished, re-sanded, polished, and then sealed.


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  • 7 years later...

Zett, Thanks so much for sharing this information! My mom has an 02 Lexus and the lenses were all but yellow. I tried your suggestions and they both looked brand new! For those of you like me that do not have a buffer, you can get great results by hand. I did learn a couple of things the hard way... First of all, do not use cheese cloth. It's too abrasive. Also, it's not as hard to remove the oxidation as you might think. I tried to improve things by using the cheese cloth and compound, and rubbing in a circular motion. Big mistake.... this scratched the lenses and it took me hours to get them out. The second light went much better. Apply the compound with a damp sponge applicator. No need to rub hard, just moderate pressure, and let the compound do the work. Keep adding compound and keep on wiping. Then dampen the applicator, rub some more. Keep repeating until the compound is gone. This is like moving to finer and finer sandpaper grit. Then, wash them with dish soap to ensure all the compound is gone. Then, apply several coats of paste wax and buff with a soft cloth. Works great! Thanks again Zett!

Brian Anderson 

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