Foggy headlamp

Malcyb

Member
Hi,
MOT’s coming up in a week or so, and I’m a bit worried that one of my headlamps might be too opaque to pass. Having read on here the advice about how to restore cloudy headlamps using various grades of wet & dry, I thought I’d try a quick fix first since I’d seen elsewhere (not here I hasten to add) that Brasso can give good results. However I tried this and it hasn’t improved it at all. I’d have a go with wet & dry if I was really confident it would work however not so sure now. I’m not sure that the problem is on the outside, you can hopefully see from this photo that there’s a mass of tiny cracks visible however running a fingernail over it, it doesn’t feel terribly rough. Unless all this is under the lacquer and I’ve just got to sand that off first?
5980280F-E36E-4B46-902C-2994FDB6C197.jpeg

I’ve since tried the trick I saw someone else suggested here of wiping WD40 over it, and it’s improved it a bit, maybe this will be enough to just get it through the MOT. But from my description/photo, do people think this damage might be internal and hence impossible to fix?

Unfortunately even replacing the headlamp unit will be difficult as a previous owner has completely mangled the socket and I can’t remove the plug to save my life.
 

A2Steve

A2OC Donor
It looks like the top layer of laquer has gone. Wet and dry will probably sort this out and if you don't have the correct cutting compound to use afterwards, the brasso will do a reasonable cut afterwards albeit maybe showing fine scratches.
 

Malcyb

Member
Thanks guys, so when the lacquer goes like that you wouldn’t expect to feel those cracks on the surface? I saw @mrbroons ’s YouTube video, think I’ll have a go with his approach...
 

A2Steve

A2OC Donor
Its a very fine layer of laquer and so unless you have the most dainty of hands with soft skin I doubt you would feel the cracks :)
 

PlasticMac

Member
You should lacquer them when you have finished with the wet'n dry. Otherwise they cloud over quite quickly. The lacquer gives the shiney finish, and the lacquer will craze (like you see on yours) if you've polished to a high gloss before applying it. The lacquer needs a key. Same as body painting, the colour coat is matt, the lacquer gives it the shine, and protection.
Mac.
 

Malcyb

Member
You should lacquer them when you have finished with the wet'n dry. Otherwise they cloud over quite quickly. The lacquer gives the shiney finish, and the lacquer will craze (like you see on yours) if you've polished to a high gloss before applying it. The lacquer needs a key. Same as body painting, the colour coat is matt, the lacquer gives it the shine, and protection.
Mac.
This is just my ignorance speaking but is all lacquer spray-applied? This would make it a bit of a headache for me as I can’t remove the headlamp unit so I’d need shedloads of masking. I was wondering whether in my case I might be better off finishing the job with Meguiars headlight protectant which claims to have the same kind of benefits and sounds like it’s very easy to apply, even if it might not be so long-lasting.
 

Malcyb

Member
So, using this video as a guide, even down to where to buy my sandpaper...


I tackled my foggy headlamp. The good news is that the sanding certainly removed the crazed finish in the photo. I was a bit worried for a while as, even after sanding with 3000 grit, it was looking very foggy. However the Meguiars Ultimate Compound (applied by hand) made a big difference and now it’s looking overall a fair bit better than when I started. It’s far from perfect though and quite a lot of scratches are visible; would it make much difference if I did the finishing with a mechanical polisher?
 

PlasticMac

Member
So, using this video as a guide, even down to where to buy my sandpaper...


I tackled my foggy headlamp. The good news is that the sanding certainly removed the crazed finish in the photo. I was a bit worried for a while as, even after sanding with 3000 grit, it was looking very foggy. However the Meguiars Ultimate Compound (applied by hand) made a big difference and now it’s looking overall a fair bit better than when I started. It’s far from perfect though and quite a lot of scratches are visible; would it make much difference if I did the finishing with a mechanical polisher?
@Malcyb
The lacquer will help. Car body paint is not gloss, it's only shiny when the lacquer is on, and polished. Think how liquid on a scratched surface makes it look clear, until it dries. The lacquer fills the micro marks left from the sanding/polishing, in the same way.
Mac.
 

Malcyb

Member
@Malcyb
The lacquer will help. Car body paint is not gloss, it's only shiny when the lacquer is on, and polished. Think how liquid on a scratched surface makes it look clear, until it dries. The lacquer fills the micro marks left from the sanding/polishing, in the same way.
Mac.
@PlasticMac Ok - and I should sand it with 3000 grit before applying it? Given how cloudy it was after using this stuff I’m sceptical that just applying lacquer will magically clear it but if you’re sure....! And do you have a recommendation of what lacquer to use? I was going to go for the top rated one on Amazon until I saw a review from someone who used it for this purpose and said it crazed when it was applied.
 

audifan

A2OC Donor
You need to keep using the grades of "sand paper" until the whole surface has an even but semi matt finish. The final grades are used to get the surface as smooth as possible ( they are not completely smooth ) The application of the polishing compound is quite a vital step and is very much easier and more even when done by machine. If the surface is not reasonably shinny after the compound you need more compound before going onto the polish step. Only after you are happy with all steps do you laquer or sealant the headlights. I have seen this used as the final polish and sealer.

  • Turtlewax Headlight Cleaner and Sealant 300ml
Do not know how long this lasts so would suggest you reapply every few months.
 

gromand

Member
With our A2s being 15 years of age at the very least why just not to buy a new headlamp, which will last 10 years at the very least
before becoming foggy again?

A headlight is around £200.00 from an Audi dealership. Thus, £400.00 for 2 headlights and they are ultimately better than the best
polished headlight.
 

audifan

A2OC Donor
Each to their own. Some people do not want to spend that type of money when a bit of effort and some materials can get very good results at a fraction of that price even if they have to repeat the process until there is not enough material left to remove. Plus restoring does not add to landfill.
 

Malcyb

Member
With our A2s being 15 years of age at the very least why just not to buy a new headlamp, which will last 10 years at the very least
before becoming foggy again?

A headlight is around £200.00 from an Audi dealership. Thus, £400.00 for 2 headlights and they are ultimately better than the best
polished headlight.
My A2’s been a bit of a drain on my funds lately - and might get worse in a few days with a service and MOT coming up - so I’m not going to stretch to that. Moreover it wouldn’t be a simple swap because, as I said at the start of the thread, the wiring socket has been badly mangled by a previous owner so the plug won’t come out, so there’d be more work involved. It’s not looking too bad now, just want to make it a bit better, so I don’t think it requires drastic measures.
 

Malcyb

Member
You need to keep using the grades of "sand paper" until the whole surface has an even but semi matt finish. The final grades are used to get the surface as smooth as possible ( they are not completely smooth ) The application of the polishing compound is quite a vital step and is very much easier and more even when done by machine. If the surface is not reasonably shinny after the compound you need more compound before going onto the polish step. Only after you are happy with all steps do you laquer or sealant the headlights. I have seen this used as the final polish and sealer.

  • Turtlewax Headlight Cleaner and Sealant 300ml
Do not know how long this lasts so would suggest you reapply every few months.
Ok I might invest in a polishing head for the drill, see if that improves things. I might have misunderstood what you’re saying, are you suggesting applying this sealant as an alternative to lacquer, or on top of lacquer?
 

audifan

A2OC Donor
It is supposed to be an alternative to lacquer. I have also seen lacquer only used.Harder to get a smooth finish with lacquer and runs down if not careful.

If you have a drill then this kit on Amazon would suit your needs. Just keep the plastic cool and do not stop moving the pad about.

Apply the Turtle wax after you have used the Meguiars Ultimate. You are starting then with a better surface.


 

PlasticMac

Member
Lacquer is used on all car finishes, and lasts many years (even on red cars).
Sprayed carefully, following the instructions, from a good quality rattle can, will give a good finish. Runs and drips onlycome from applying to heavily, ie. not following the instructions on the can, and hundreds of Youtube demos.
Mac.
 

audifan

A2OC Donor
We are not talking about paintwork. With the headlights to avoid loads of masking when applying the lacquer, removing the lights is the best option. A level of skill is also required to get a good finish. This polish can be applied by anyone, especially if they have just taken the time and care to sand the lenses before hand.
 
Top