Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Sahuarita has a “Outdoor Lighting Code” which is to help prevent light pollution. Without going into details on it, there is basically a certain lumen output per acre allowed in residential areas which is so low it disallows the use of street lights. In residential areas at night you might as well be 50 miles out of town, its very dark.

Even though I grew up in the country, when you drove down a country road there weren’t cars parked up and down the sides or people walking around. Driving here at night seems odd, like there is a blackout or something. It doesn’t help that the composite headlight housings on my pickup are hazed and yellow.

A few weeks ago when my brother in law was here, he brought me a 3M headlight polish kit. He had tried it and liked it so well he bought a master kit for his shop. I was a bit skeptical on it working because I had tried using a Dico wheel and some plastic rouge, it appeared to clear the lense up some but I felt the yellowing was not limited to the surface.

Friday night I was doing some reading on headlight housings to see if there was any clear opinion on who made the best clear aftermarket housings when I came across a thread on GM Fullsize Forums about polishing composite headlights. One of the people posting mentioned he had after washing the lenses, wiped them down with lacquer thinner. This not only removed the yellowing from the lenses it melts the surface repairing the thousands of small pits and surface cracks in the lens.

Sunday I decided to work on a few things I had been wanting to do. The stereo in my truck had a whine from the alternator, the most common cause for that is a bad ground. I moved the ground from the factory harness to a good chassis ground under the dash which cleared up the whine. The alarm that I had installed when the truck was new wasn’t working properly and the range of the transmitters was down to a few feet from the truck. I checked the connections to the system and found no problems, changed the batteries in the remotes, no fix. I pulled out the main unit from under the dash where they had mounted it and could smell a faint burnt capacitor smell, so I removed the system.

I had some extra time so I decided to tackle the headlights. I removed the grille because I was not familiar with the headlight removal and didn’t want to mess up the aim. Once it was off, I removed the driver side housing and was able to see how easy it was to pull the pins that mount the housings. I wiped the drivers side housing down with a clean white rag and some lacquer thinner which turned the rag a dark yellow, it looked like I had cleaned off the inside of a car window that had been owned by a smoker for 20 years.

Once the composite lens dried it turned a hazy white but was still relatively smooth. I went over it with my DA sander and some 360 grit paper. I then used the 3M kit and quickly hit it with 500 then 800 grit paper. The kit then stated to use a thin pad that was probably somewhere in the 1000 to 1200 grit range. The last step was to use a sponge pad and compound that I replaced with some mirror glaze. As you can see from the pictures the difference between the polished and un-polished is quite obvious. The park lamps are made out of a different material and did not polish out to a glass finish like the headlamps.

When I finished the drivers side lights it was starting to get dark so I decided to install the grill while I could still see. The garage was occupied by my wife’s project which involves stripping the dining room table / chairs and refinishing them. We were also sharing the DA sander between the two projects. At one point the smelly kid that lives upstairs even came down and helped her for a while. As you can see it looks quite fun, It had just started to cool down for the day and were already acclimated, but you really can’t complain about 60 degree weather at the end of November.

Installing the grille was a mistake, I finished polishing the park light on the passenger side and started to take out the headlamp, the first pin came out easily the second is froze in the nylon insert it screws into. Next weekend I will pull the grille back off and get the light out.

THe difference in the lights performance is amazing, since only the drivers side is polished it over powers the passenger side so much that while driving it appears to be burned out or not connected correctly. Once I have it polished I plan to order a HID kit for the low beams, I found one that has good reviews for 49.00 with a lifetime warranty.

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