Restoring Your Headlights and/or Black Housings - Updated!

For those of you who have read my build thread, this will be a repeat of information. The purpose of this thread however is to provide insight into the restoration of your headlights. I am not finnished with my lights yet, but will update this as soon as I am. I am also adding in some other's experiences with this project. Feel free to add your experiences as well!

My headlights, probably like many of yours were constantly wet inside. This was unexceptable. It is caused by the sealent around the glass breaking down over time. So begins the process of restoring my headlights!

First step is obviously to remove them.
Next you are going to remove all the little metal clips that clip from the plastic to the glass. Hope you have better luck than I did!
The brittle plastic that they are attached too broke on all but one. So guess what-No more clips for my headlights. Hope my new glue is strong!

After that I brought them up to the kitchen and it was time to do the part I had read about but was most skeptical. Put them in the oven! I researched this alot. I read about everyone's different times and tempatures. No one was consistant so I decided to wing it!
I baked each light at 200 degrees for four minutes.

Guess what? It Worked! As soon as they each came out of the oven, I took a screwdriver to them and started prying them apart. Once I got a corner going, they pulled right apart. Words of caution... 1. They are hot! and 2. Use caution with the screwdriver. I chipped the glass in a couple of places, but no biggie. The new glue will cover it just fine.

Then it was on to scraping the old glue off. Just used a razor blade. I got the two lenses done in like five minutes.
The housings looked like they will take a little more time.

I was correct! What a bitch - be fore-warned I spent about four days on and off scraping glue out of the channel. Probably about a five hour job! I used a razor blade, screwdriver, scraper, and bottle of M.E.K. Man we must love out wagons! I wanted all that old glue off to provide a clean sealing surface for the new adheasive. Now I needed to find a chrome-like material to refinish the inside of the headlights. I bought some metallic silver paint, the cap looked chrome, but it was a failure.
Here are the pics for your viewing pleasure.

Here is the origional headlight finish...

This is the paint I bought, never mind the quality of the paintjob, this was a one-shot test run to see how it was going to do. Not happy :x

Here is a comparison shot, need more shiny!

Here is the paint I used, note the chrome like cap...False advertising!

Also tried this! Sorry, no pics of it, but none were needed.
Same pitiful results!

I think I'm giving up on the chrome paint idea. Review other's results on youtube - search "chrome paint" and read other reviews but I still think they will yield less than steller reults. I think it is nearly inpossible to paint a mirror-like finish without high $ paint or professional equipment.

Well... Lets hold off on this for now and move on to making my headlights black housing lights, like the EDM ones. Mainly just because I have them apart and I think the black looks cool.

First I masked off the concave surface, going black on everything else.

Then gave it several coats of black. I used Krylon BBQ black. That is the black I use on almost everything. I like how it goes on and gives a nice flat to simigloss color. Plus it is high heat and holds up well. Not to mention - Cheap!

Here is how it looks dry and untaped. My lines are not exactly perfect, but with the fluted lenses, you won't be able to tell. Try taping all the curves and get it perfect - who cares!

Here is an Idea of how the finnished product will look. I think I like!

O.K. On to the Shiny!
Laugh it up guys, but I found my solution! Spent an hour in Michael's (craft Store) looking at all things shiny. Most were made of paper and wouldn't survive in the headlights. some foils avaliable but I couldn't get them in there without them wrinkling all to hell. Then I saw a display where they had painted a foam ball with this. It looked awesome!


I read the bottle. Is is suitable for indoor/outdoor use and is dishwasher safe. Here is the Kicker... Dries to touch in one hour, Full cure time 21 DAYS!!! I went for it! and at $2.39 it was a steal. Now my only problem is it takes a massive number of coats. First coat went on looking almost like nothing but gule and a few glitter flakes. My wife informed me that this is how glitter fingernail polish goes on, in many coats. So I began just brushing it on with a small hobby paintbrush coat after coat. Each coat takes about 10 minutes, then I allow an hour and a half between coats.
This is coat #6


Well, Coat #8 did the trick. Once again photos do not show it that well, but it looks awesome!

This is the adheasive I am going to use. A glass man who came out to put a quarter window in my Si a while back used this stuff. He said it is great and gave me a couple of tubes. I figure that should work great. And best, it was free!


And here they are all glued up ready for install!

The finnished product!


  • if the OP does not mind, i'll throw in a little bit of my experiences with headlights as well.

    as far as baking them in the oven, it works, but sometimes goes down the wrong direction quickly. I will suggest using a heat gun. harbor freight sells them for like $25 and they work GREAT. start at one corner and heat till its squishy and use a flat head/pry bar to get it started. I'll also suggest having a partner there so one can pull apart and one can use the razor blade to cut the glue as well. you can continue to heat the lights as you pull them apart to make it easy, wear leather gloves.

    once you have the lights apart you can use the heat gun to continue to heat the glue, it makes it come off pretty easy. as far as restoring the inside of the lights, USE PLASTIC ADHESION PROMOTOR. I think this is the one thing people miss the most when dealing with exposed plastic. scuff it down with a scotch brite pad and clean it really well with soapy water or a low voc solvent. once its dry spray the adhesion promoter on and let that set up, then spray your color over it.

    lastly, since you're restoring the inside, why not restore the exterior glass as well?!? hit the exterior glass with soem 600grit sand paper, then 800, then 1000 then 2000 then 3000 then polish the hell out of them. Yes its is time consuming without a air sander and air/electric polisher, but man is it worth it when its finished.
  • I haven't used it on headlights, but have had great success with Krylon Fusion paints (meant to go directly onto plastic) before. The replacement dash surround BS thing I bought for my F350 was tan. Factory was gray. Since I knew I couldn't find the gray to match that, I used a semigloss black Krylon Fusion and it matches the other black plastic bits to the T. It'd be fine on this as you're not matching it to anything, but on my dash (that I clean all the time, see's constant abuse) it has held up awesome. I did scrub it prior with warm soapy water and then ran over it with wax/grease remover.

    Just figured I'd throw that out there if someone was interested in a paint made to adhere directly to plastics.
  • I just did my headlights and taillights, I figured I love my wife and if she saw me using the oven there was a good chance i would be single for a while, And the last time I used the oven my G.I. joe's did not do so well........Sooooooooooooooo i threw em in the sink and turned on the hot water.....perfect 5 min they flew apart. Cleaned and I used the right stuff from permatex, but silkaflex is fantastic too!! made a world of difference.
  • simplyhondasimplyhonda Council Member
    New pics added up top. Headlights go in tomorrow!
  • Nice, im gonna do this once i get my wagon in the garage :) i'm to lazy to take everything off in the cold lol
  • Can we get a pic with light on! :D
  • Dangit! my post disappeared, JUST AN FYI GUYS

    The clips on the headlights all SLIDE off. So you don't break them. :)
  • Great write up!ive restored the outer casing on lots of headlights but thanks for showing me in detail how to tear apart.alot of them I see now have water spotting on the inside that I could do nothing with before
  • josh1vtmjosh1vtm Council Member
    i need to come over so we can work on some projects, got alot of plans
  • WagonClaws wrote:
    Can we get a pic with light on! :D

    I too would like to see this with the lights on.
  • simplyhondasimplyhonda Council Member
    After several request and my delay, here is a coouple of pics with the lights on. Best I could get my camera to do.
  • TheGmanTheGman Wagonist
    Shot at 2012-03-05
    Shot at 2012-03-05

    Thats what mine looks like without the shiny parts being messed with, box removed, and 6k hid low beams. Normal highbeams.
  • CamoCivicCamoCivic New Wagonist
    Just a quick note here since I couldn't find this information elsewhere in the forum, The first step, as noted above, is indeed to remove your headlights. Before you start banging your own head against said headlights while trying to get them out, go to the thread on removing the bumper cover because you'll need to do that (way easier than it sounds) to access the lower bolts that hold on the headlight assembly. The top two are obvious, then there's a little screw that holds on the corner light, and the corner light slides FORWARD to come off, revealing 1 more bolt, and then the last 2 are underneath, and for them, you've got to pop off the bumper cover. The thread on that has good pictures to help. It is the only way to get the headlight assembly out, and actually, it's so easy, that if you're about to start any other project where you're going to be bending over the front of your car, I'd pop it off so you don't have to reach so far and hurt your knees/back. p.s. I didn't bake my headlights since they were dry &clean when I took them out and the reflective backing is in perfect condition--just kept them together (didn't feel like breaking all the tabs off trying to open them) and put a good bead of silicone sealant all the way around them. We'll see how that goes for me. While you're at it, do yourself a favor and work just a little bit of WAX into the plastic housing that clips the light bulb assembly into the back. They're turn way easier next time it's 20 below and snowing and you're trying to change a bulb. Just saying...
  • Did you notice them being brighter after refinishing the reflective part?
  • simplyhondasimplyhonda Council Member
    No, much dimmer. Looking back, this was a terrible idea.
    They look really cool in the daytime, but can't see shit at night.
    I usually run my high beams and or fogs. Looking for a good set of OEM ones
    to trade out. If you never drive at night, go for it!!
  • DRMORTYDRMORTY Council Member
    Thinking about doing something similar.
  • simplyhondasimplyhonda Council Member
    I'll just trade you a set of headlights :)
  • Have some EDM adjustables that I was going to do it to. Glad I asked my question first! lol
    Do you think that maybe the reason they're dimmer is perhaps due to the fact that there's less reflective surface with the black now? I realize the black areas aren't really "aimed" ahead, but I'd assume every little bit helps.
  • simplyhondasimplyhonda Council Member
    Yeah I assume painting a reflective surface black will cut down on its ability to reflect light.
    I thought about switching to HIDs but not sure it would help that much without reflective surfaces.
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