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3-Series (E46, E90) Chat relating to the BMW 3-Series from 1999 to Current. Models include: BMW 316i, BMW 318i, BMW 318Ci, BMW 320i, BMW 323i, BMW 325i, BMW 330i, BMW 328 Ci, BMW 328i, BMW 325i/xi, BMW 330Ci, BMW 320d, BMW 330d, BMW 335d.

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Old 01-12-2006, 10:42 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Headlight lens repair - scratch removal

My '02 3er had some pretty dinged-up headlight lenses. I went to Autozone and got their headlight lens repair kit which consists of 4 pieces of wet/dry sandpaper, ranging from 1000 grit up to 2500 grit, rubber gloves, some clear plastic polish and a soft polishing cloth. I followed the directions percisely, starting with the soaked 1000 grit on the dings and sanding in one direction and working my up to 2500 grit.

By the time I got to the 2500, I had spent a good 1/2 hour sanding and re-wetting, the lenses. The last step is to polish out the tiny scratches left by the sandpaper with the polish and cloth. I did this last step 4-5 times, but the lenses are still foggy and hazy. WHAT GIVES?! I tried another polish that I purchased previously (Mother's clear plastic polish and scratch removal) 2x and it still looks a bit foggy.

My question is HOW DO I GET THE LENSES TO LOOK TOTALLY CLEAR AGAIN? I am getting jelous every time I see another bimmer out there with nice new-looking headlights.....

Thanks!
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Old 01-12-2006, 12:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Buy a new pair of lenses? And use a lens protector film as well.. ? My personal experience tells me that if after sanding and re-polishing, lens is still crap, then the solution is to buy a new one.
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Old 01-12-2006, 12:06 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Okay, then here's my plan...

1) I think I'll try getting those fine scratches out one more time with some super-fine paper (2500-3000 grit) and then re-polishing, and if that doesn't work then....

2) Buy new lenses.

Where do I get new lenses without the entire housing for (gritting teeth) as cheap as possible? Website? Southern California shop?
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Old 01-13-2006, 12:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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So last night after work, I took the lenses off the car. I cleaned them and then used the Mother's lense cleaner about 10 times, with buffing in between each application. The lenses look MUCH better now, and are almose clear. There are still a lot of little scrathes and dots, but you can't really tell unless you shine light on them. I will try rubbing compound next, as it's slightly more abrasive, then more polishing sauce and let you know what happens...
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Old 01-13-2006, 02:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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You can buy the lenses seperately from the dealer. I think they are about $65 ea. last I checked. Thanks for the info I will try to polish my lemses out as welll first.
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Old 01-13-2006, 02:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Hey,
Thanks for the reply to my post. Here's a few tips for handling the faded lenses:

1) Don't buy the stupid "lense repair kit" from Autozone or any auto store. It cost almost $14.00 for a few pieces of sandpaper and polishing compound. Just go to the hardware store and get the finest wet/dry sandpaper you can get (1500-3000 grit).

2) You don't have to remove the whole light housing to get the lenses off (2002 325i). here's the correct and simplest sequence:
a. Remove the side markers by loosening (not removing) the philips screw that is located inside the fender wall. (you can access it through the top with a simple screwdriver)
b. Pull the corner marker out and take the bulb out. Now you can remove the top rubber seal that sits atop the headlight housing simply by tugging at the snaps.
c. Now remove the bottom paint-colored strip that is nestled beneath the headlight, simply by tugging at the snaps (you can push gently on the snap catches to avoid breaking them).
d. Once both the colored strip and top rubber seals are removed, you can now just unsnap the light cover by pulling up on the black snap-catchers that are placed periodically around the lense. Once they are unsnapped, the lense can be jiggled loose and removed.
e. Now do all the sanding and polishing with ultra-fine WET paper. Make sure to use lots of water, or you will scour the hell out of the plastic.
f. Now polish and buff until the lense is as close to crystal clear as you care to get it and reverse the removal process for installation. It's very easy and straightforward and it really improves the look.

Those are my tips. I have spent about 3 hours on these damn things, but it looks sweet. I saved $130 bucks on new lenses too! Good luck!
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Old 01-16-2006, 01:47 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Just tried the rubbing compound and it does get the minor scratches out, but the lense still has some dings in it. I guess I can try 1500 grit for another 2 hours....

...anyone know where I can get new after-market lenses, or cheaper than BMW dealer?
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Old 01-16-2006, 02:59 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I tried this this weekend and after about 3 hrs I had one light done. I think that I may have sanded through a coating that is on the lens but I did get the majority on the pitting out. It worked very well on the turn signal and I am going to do the Fog lights soon. Thanks for the tip and the help making my light look much better.
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Old 01-17-2006, 02:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Glad to hear it! I am still not satisfied. I have some pits left and little nicks. I am going to try sanding again this weekend. Here's what my car looks like by the way (finally got pics today)...
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Old 01-20-2006, 11:15 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I'm trying to re-size my photos. Someone told me that I could do it in "paint" program, so the photos aren't so large when I post them in the forum. Let's try this one that I saved in Paint...
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Old 01-20-2006, 11:19 AM   #11 (permalink)
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It's not letting me attach the bmp file. I click the attach button and upload the correct file from my hard drive and then when I post, it's not there. WHat gives?
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Old 01-20-2006, 03:20 PM   #12 (permalink)
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In Paint, save it as a JPEG.
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Old 01-20-2006, 06:19 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I tried what you said, but the image is already in .jpeg form. When I open the image on my desktop, it's tiny, but when I paste it in the thread, it looks like this...
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Old 01-20-2006, 06:24 PM   #14 (permalink)
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This is a test for my profile photo...
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Old 01-20-2006, 06:25 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Goddam it! HOW DO I MAKE THE FRIGGIN' PHOTOS UPLOAD PROPERLY???
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