So I am going to work on typing this guide up and getting more detailed pics asap.
This is a guide to both restore the shine to those $1200 headlight lenses, trash the crappy ugly seal Lotus uses and re-seal it all for a cleaner and re-vamped look.
Got the idea for the seal delete after seeing a local members car come out of the body-shop and them forgetting to install the seals entirely.
3M headlight restoration kit. $22USD
ACE hardware Extreme Climate Rubber tape (PN 5131594) $7
Tube of Black quality Silicone $5
Microfiber Cloth $$
Alan head for removing lens covers
Plastic paint scraper
Silicone tube dispenser
Quality Silicone glass cleaner for final cleaning of inside of lenses
Lens polishing 1-2hr per lens depending on damage/wear
Headlight disassemble and re-assembly 1-2hr each +4hr to cure silicone.
Here is a before and after:
Before with damaged lenses and old seal:
Start by cleaning the headlight lens and body panels surrounding throughly. Ensure the surfaces are free of debris and dry.
Mask off the area surrounding the headlight, to be safe create 2 layers of tape. The sanding disk WILL wander and this will protect your paint/starshield. Also if retaining the OEM headlight seal, be sure to mask it as well or remove it before starting for better results.
Follow the instructions included with the 3M Headlight polishing kit. Start sanding the lend DRY with the 500Grit disc's. This will make the headlight appear frosted. Be sure to move constantly and keep the disk flat or VERY slightly angled against the lens. Aso, because of the complex bend in our lenses be sure to "walk" the pad consistantly back and forth accross the "hump" for an even surface.
Be sure to remove ALL of the OEM UV protectant (Clear coat) from the lens. As you sand this coating will break up into patch areas, continue sanding until ALL of this material is removed. This also applies to any light scratches or small chips in the lens. Sand until they are gone.
TIP: Every 2-3 minutes of sanding slap the sandpaper a few times to remove sanding dust. If you start to see small black dots forming on the pad, switch to a new pad.
With all of the old UV Coating and olther blemishes removed from the lens and an even "frosted" surface on the lens switch to the 800Grit pad. Sand with this DRY as well and be sure to "slap" the pad ever 1-2 minutes to keep from clogging the paper. Spend a LOT of time with the 800Grit, a described in the instructions this will make the future steps much easier. When nearing completion the lens should appear transparent but foggy once again.
Now time to wet-sand, switch to the 3000Grit Foam sanding pad.
Using a spray bottle with water (I also included a drop of detergent in the water to help keep the pads from clogging) wet the pad thougholy and wet the lens. Start sanding with this as well. You will see a white foam build up as it removed material from the lens. Rinse this away with your spray bottle every-so-often to help keep the pad from clogging. It is aslo a good idea to thougholy flush the pad often as well.
Continue this process until the lens appears pretty clear while wet and no obvious sand scratches appear. (Inspect with a bright light or sunlight)
Once you are confident the lens has been sanded back to a smooth surface clean and dry the lens entirely. Re-inspect and sand anthing else as needed.
Be sure you are wearing shop clothes in this step as you will get compound all over yourself.
Now, Mount the Foamy polishing pad (pink in color) and find the small package of polishing compound. Place a dime sized amount onto the pad and smear it all over the lens into a thin film coating. Now start polishing the same way you sanded. Make sure to move in slow even circular motions in this step to avoid swirl marks in the final product. Do a pass over the entire lens, then clean with water and a microfiber. Repeat (I did each lens 4-5 times).
Polished: (Still dirty inside housing)
Either re-seal the surface of the lens with the recomended 3M product or apply a new starshield to prtect your fresh lens's!
(THIS IS A GOOD TIME TO RE-PAINT FADED BEZELS, SWAP TO HK_FEVER'S CF BEZELS OR EVEN COLOR MATCH THE BEZELS TO THE CAR?)
Remove the headlight covers from the car as discribed in my HID install guide (SEE SIG)
TO BE CONTINUED, see pics for now....
New hidden seal:
For now here is a link to the pictures of the process that I have.
Lotus Elise/Exige Headlight guide | TheChazz.com – DOWNSHIFT-FLOORIT