139 of 144 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2012
I have purchased many different items over the years to polish the headlights on my 2002 Jetta. And I have been able to polish to a point but never got that new look, and there was plenty of elbow grease used with those product.
But results were always the same, lack luster.
Got this product a couple weeks back and had been waiting for a warm day. This is a small package and was curious what was inside that would make the results possible that I was looking for. Opened it up and and had varies sanding pads and polish units with compond and polish. The difference that this has is the needed sand paper to start the polishing of the headlights.
All of the componds that say that you just put on a cloth and polish with your hands will do little or nothing to clean the headlights. I know, I have tried them and they are all sitting out in the garage.
You need to sand the old plastic of your headlights off, and slowly use the next finer grit of sandpaper to slowly polish the plastic back to a new status. They say that this is a quick process but I would take a little extra time than usual to polish at each stage.
At first I thought I had just destroyed my headlights and was thinking that I would be having to buy brand new when you see the first sanding stage. But went to the second stage and you can start to see it slowly working. But still take the time to move slowly back and forth.
Once I got to the 9000 grit pad with some polish compond on the pad, and basically started the wet sanding of the headlights you start to see the results of taking your time on the first couple stages. I kept going back and forth on this stage and kept spraying water on really work the wet sand process. Looked great and thought it was good enough to be done, but...
Followed the instructions and of course they kept looking better.
So in short, this product works. After having headlights that have been worthless for years, I now have brand new looking headlights on my old car. Can not stress enough, take your time and don't rush the process. And your hard work will give you fantastic results and I am betting will last a long time.
Don't waste your time on the others, this works as advertised.
57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2012
I bought this kit because my wife wanted to buy one of those "works like magic!" headlight lens restorers from a TV ad. I didn't trust that product. A spray-on coating might make fine scratches that can cause cloudiness less visible, but it can't actually fix the scratches or restore the original lens surface, and I don't trust a coating to last. That's the problem with magic: it's easy to do but it doesn't work. With this kit, you actually repair the surface of the lens itself. It's the real thing, but it doesn't work "like magic," it works like work (a couple of hours' worth) and produces great results.
The lens repair process has four stages (not including prep, the final wax coating after the lens is polished, and clean-up). The first stage is sanding with 500-grit sandpaper, the second is sanding with 800-grit sandpaper, the third is a 3000-grit polishing abrasive (used with a little water) that's embedded in a foam disk, and the fourth is a polishing compound rubbed on using another foam disk.
Besides the parts in the kit, you need a 1200-1600 RPM drill, a water spray bottle (a plant mister would certainly do), some clean soft rags for wiping, soapy water for an initial wash, and a clean microfiber cloth for the final wax application. I used an old plug-in electric drill that runs at 1200 rpm. I doubt that a cordless drill could complete the task for two headlights in one charge.
A round holder, included in the kit, fits in the drill and holds the various sandpaper and foam pads used in the four stages. The holder is thick foam, so it's very forgiving; for instance, the edge of the pad won't gouge the working surface if you tilt the drill while sanding or polishing. The sandpaper and foam disks attach to the pad with hook and loop surfaces, so changing disks (which you do many times during the process) is quick and easy.
The first step, the 500 sandpaper, is what actually removes any deep scratches, pits, or yellowing from the surface. If your lens has only haze from fine scratches, you might be able to skip this stage. One of my lenses also had some pits in it that I didn't know about until beginning to sand, so skipping it wouldn't have produced as good results. Deeper pits and scratches require more sanding at this stage; possibly, a lot more. If a stage isn't fully completed, you can make up for it on the next stage, but that takes much longer. In general, if you're doing enough at each stage, each subsequent stage should take less time than the one before. If you find yourself needing to take more time on a stage than the one before (such as, trying to complete the removal of a pit or of yellowed surface plastic using the 800 sandpaper), you're better off going back to the previous stage instead.
The second, third, and fourth stages successively smooth and polish the surface that's been smoothed (but in the process, completely frosted) in the first stage. So, the first stage looks like you're making the problem a lot worse, but it all works out in the end.
Each headlight took me about 90 minutes, for different reasons. The first lens was fogged (due to fine scratches) over a large area, so I carefully included every edge and corner in each pass of each stage. This might not have been necessary, especially where the lens wrapped around to the side (for the front turn signal light) and was already clear to begin with. After seeing how the process works, I realized I could have limited the stage 1 sanding to where the visible haze was. Of course, each stage after that has to cover the area worked over in the previous stage(s), plus a little more. The second lens had damage in a more limited area, so I was able to work on a smaller area, but it turns out some of that damage went deeper into the plastic, requiring a lot more sanding in stage 1 and stage 2. That offset the time savings from skipping the side portion, and from the practice. I think it should be possible to do a good job in an hour per lens, but not much less than that.
Controlling the rotary sanding and polishing was not difficult but took some practice initially. You can tell when you have the pad flat on the surface because it doesn't pull sideways in any direction. Moving over the curved lens surface, though, you'll inevitably be at different angles, which causes the tool to pull laterally in various directions or to tend to wobble in a rapid "orbit." Reduce the pressure if this happens. I imagine that anyone who's used a rotary polisher would already know all this, but I hadn't before and I was still able to get used to it quickly, without any harm done in the learning process.
The instructions in the kit are very thorough, though a few details were missing. It is helpful to wipe the sanding dust or polishing mud off the lens more often than the instructions say to. It's also helpful to blow or tap the dust off the sandpaper disks frequently, to make the disks last longer before clogging. After the final stage, the instructions don't mention to wipe the residual polishing compound off the lens with a clean dry cloth (until after you've removed the masking tape when you know you're done), which might make you think the lens hasn't become clear yet when it actually has. The third stage tends to spatter the 3000-grit compound around, especially across the car's hood. That problem can be reduced by strategically placing a damp rag on the hood along the top edge of the lens.
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2012
I initially did the first headlight as instructed but I just couldn't sand it down enough with the 500 grain sheet that comes with the package. I finally decided to get out my orbital sander and attach some 250 grain sandpaper and started over. The results were great, at more than a few feet away the headlights look like new. The trick to this kit is to sufficiently sand down the headlight with the first round of sanding. After that, the progressively finer sanding is basically only polishing the plastic. If you don't get out all the imperfections (with the exception of the expected frosting of the plastic) with the first round of sanding then they'll still be there in the end.
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2011
my headlights were opaque when i started using this product and when i finished the headlights were as clear as brand new. it is so easy to use and takes very little time. i recommend this product 100%
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on January 4, 2012
I had badly hazed-over headlight lenses on my 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The key for me was using a decent cordless drill (a lightweight Craftsmans in my case) and having plenty of patience. I read as many comments as I could find before ordering this product. The best tip I got was not to rush and be methodical on this job. As long as you use light pressure, wipe off the lenses and the pads frequently and keep the drill moving over the lenses, I don't think it's possible to overdo any of the sanding stages. (I added a couple more passes when I thought that I was done with each stage.) I spent about ninety minutes on each headlight lens and I'm very happy with the results; two clear headlights.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2013
I've seen many products like this in stores and online, I settled on the 3M kit because of the good reviews and the whole keystone of the system, which is the drill-mounted backing plate. I tried a entirely-by-hand kit before, it didn't remove nearly enough of the haze and I seriously aggravated my wrists in the process. Letting a drill do most of the sanding/polishing work made sense to me and the results show it.
The fact is this kit is devoid of gimmicks, which is why it's effective. It includes just what you need:, a drill-mounted backing plate, a set of gradually-finer sanding sheets, a buffer pad, some polish, protectant, masking tape and clearly-written instructions (thank you, tech writers!). If you gradually and methodically work through the steps included in the kit, you WILL have greatly improved your headlight clarity in the end. If you want to see my actual before-and-after pictures, I've posted them to this product.
Here are my tips, for what they are worth:
1. USE A CORDED DRILL. I took this advice from another post and I couldn't agree more. A corded drill will ensure you won't lose speed or force during the job or worse yet, run out of battery half-way through. If you don't own such a drill, try to find one with an auxiliary handle, so you can use both hands to steady the drill as you work. I found one at Harbor Freight for $29.99... money well spent.
2. MASK THE PAINT AROUND THE LIGHT METICULOUSLY AND LIBERALLY. If you've never done buffing work like this before (like me), it will take a bit of time to get used to it and you WILL slide off the edge a few times! As long as you've masked it well, that wont be an issue. Good masking also allows you to work to the edges of the light without worrying about damage to your paint.
3. FIND AND USE A GOOD WATER SPRAY BOTTLE. As you are doing a form "wet sanding" throughout this process, a good spray bottle is cheap and really helps.
4. TAKE YOUR TIME. This whole project took me a couple hours start to finish. If you rush, you probably won't get all the haze out or will leave some scratches. If you follow the steps closely and take time at each step, you'll notice a gradual improvement at nearly every step in the process, that should be motivation enough to keep going!
NOTE: I chose this kid (39045) over the slightly cheaper one from 3M (39008) because it includes a protectant seal. If you have some good liquid wax or sealant you'd prefer to use, then you could go with the cheaper kit. The price difference wasn't enough for me to skimp.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2011
I bought this kit to get rid of paint on brake lights. The previous owner of the vehicle tinted the brake lights using spray paint and it was awful. I tried using brake fluid but that only added an oily layer. I then use gasoline and that worked somewhat. I finally got this kit and in about 2 hours, I was able to buff out the paint and polish the brake lights to factory-new condition! One word of caution on the trisact pad. Take note you only have one such pad and prolong use will wear it out so make sure you buff both lights in an alternating manner. Also, I would spend more time at this "trisact" phase so the final polishing phase using the provided compound will yield great result. All in all, this is a great kit.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2012
I bought this product to clear up the very cloudy headlight lenses on my son's 2006 Civic. When I first started with the coarser sandpaper he was a little concerned that the lenses actually looked worse. I explained the process to him and the fact that we were going to get out the worst scratches and clouding with this 500 grit sandpaper then work our way through the 800, 1000 then 3000 grit and finally a polishing compound to get the lenses back to like new shape. As we stepped through each lighter grit he could see and feel the improvement, but when I used the polishing compound the lenses really made the greatest visual improvement. The kit was very complete, except it was missing a cloth that was supposed to be in there, which is why I docked it one star.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2013
I read the reviews and decided to try this myself. I expected to take up to an hour per headlight. I took my time masking off the perimeter and slowly sanding down the lens, step by step. Total time was about 1½ hours for both headlights. Starting off, I didn't have any type of lens damage, except for the cloudy issue. Once finished with all the steps, the results were very impressive. I do still see some tiny scratches created during the sanding, however you have to be very close to notice them. Take the time to read the directions, and you wont have a problem. Also remember to use a corded drill, or have a spare charged battery while doing this. I have a Lithium-Ion Hitachi cordless drill, and I went through 3 batteries during the whole process.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 28, 2011
Product was shipped fast and arrived in good condition. After reading the instructions and several reviews I polished all the lens in my 1996 sedan. The 3-M system is the best I have ever seen, was a breeze to use and when following the directions worked as advertised. The difference in the amount of light is amazing.