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Headlight Damage vs Ozidation

Old 12-28-2013, 01:08 PM
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Headlight Damage vs Ozidation

I have listened to many so called experts saying incredible things like ' the UV layer and headlights are damaged when they become oxidized.
The oxidation is a result of the plastic wearing out.
They have to be sanded to remove the old oxidized plastic to make them look new again.

Unless you are willing to forget everything you know about the lasting ability of plastic, you will find many of these statements ridiculous.

Most of us will agree that plastic does not decompose like paper or cloth.
Plastic will even outlast leather.
So how headlights that are made of high impact acrylic can break down in a few years is beyond my understanding.

Oxidation is a film that builds up on the surface of acrylics exposed to the elements.
Oxidation is more like a tarnish on silver than rust on metal.

Oxidation rests on the surface, the smoother the surface the less space to be effected.

When a surface has imperfectionst, it provides more surface area for the oxidation to collect in.

Scratches that accumulate on a headlight in the course of normal usage do not effect light output and is not a reason to clean headlights.

Scratches that are a result of abrasive cleanings do cloud the surface of the light and restrict light projection and require removal.

Acrylic Oxidation naturally builds up over time and clouds the lens and limits output This is the primary reason people clean their headlights. not because of scratches on the lens.

Clouding from abrasive cleaners can only be addressed with more abrasives.
This includes, sanding, rubbing compounds, polish and buffers.

Oxidation can be virtually wiped from the lens like dust without using any form of abrasives diminishing the severity of re oxidation by not creating more surface area on the lens. for the oxidation to cling too.

The UV laye does not deteriorate in a few years
Headlights do not break down in a few years

Plastic will outlast the metal it is attached to.
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Old 12-28-2013, 10:32 PM
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If you know anything about the chemistry of plastic, you'll know that's it's far from permanent. Yes, the entire headlight won't melt down in a few years, but the outermost layer -- definitely.

So.. I don't know what to tell you, except that those headlight repair kits really do work.
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Old 12-29-2013, 03:20 AM
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I agree that headlight cleaners can improve the ligjht output but what is at issue is the permenant trama caused to the surface of the light and the necessity in using something that is harder than the plastic to remove oxidation.

you say plastic used in headlights melts. Can you say at what temperature?
Also why would the outside melt and not the inside where the heat is the greatest?
Headlights today are very complex systems that include electrical and gas components that literally burn inside the lens to create light.
Some are so intense that they have safety warnings.

I would think that when the engineers designed headlights they knew they would get hot.
I find it difficult to believe that they would not take heat into consideration when designing the lens.
It is true plastic is not eternal but it will outlast any other material used to build a car.
I have never seen the aftermath of a headlight operating under normal conditions melting from too much heat.
My point again is that abrasives used to remove oxidation causes unnecessary damage.
Oxidation is softer than the acrylic it clings to.
Oxidation is what you want to remove to increase light output, and you want to do that without causing additional that you will have to address again in the future.
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Old 12-29-2013, 01:12 PM
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What? I didn't say the plastic would melt from heat, it was a figure of speech. Deteriorate is a better term then.

Anyway, sure sounds good? Let's see a side by side comparison of regular abrasives and something softer. From my experience, the regular multistage headlight repair/polish kits remove the patina of oxidation and deeper scratches, giving you back a cleaner and smoother headlight with fewer scratches in the end, so Imo there is nothing to address in the future.
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Old 12-29-2013, 08:28 PM
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Can anyone say what is the best way and product to clean up headlights? and where they got them
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Old 12-29-2013, 08:33 PM
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Amazon. Pick one with a UV protectant. I used a sylvania kit the other weekend. Worked really well
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Old 12-29-2013, 08:40 PM
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parts stores have good ones?
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Old 12-29-2013, 09:32 PM
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They do. There are several to choose from. There are a few DIY threads you can look through for opinions.
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Old 12-30-2013, 04:15 AM
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Originally Posted by I8yourv8 View Post
Can anyone say what is the best way and product to clean up headlights? and where they got them
If your intent is to remove oxidation, anyway you can bring you headlight back to full clarity without abrasives is the best way.

Different problems require different solutions.

Google "non abrasive headlight cleaners" and pick the one that suits you

If your lens is covered with fine scratches, the kind that come from abrasive cleanings I would suggest a fine polish and a power buffer.

You can Google both of those things too.

Plastic deteriorates from abrasive contact quicker than from exposure to the elements.
There should never be an occasion where you ever use sandpaper on your headlight.
The average grain of sand is thicker than the average depth of acrylic oxidation and will cut through the oxidation and into the plastic / acrylic lens surface.

in most cases "headlight cleaning kit" are in reality resurfacing kits. I would say that resurfacing a lens to remove a millimeter thin layer film of oxide buildup is overkill.

The type of scratches that reduce light projection from an acrylic or plastic lens are a result of abrasive contact, generally a botched cleaning, not normal usage.
If your headlight cleaner is not made of a pure liquid,or advertise to be non abrasive, it has abrasives in it. Abrasives that can damage the Ultra Violet light protection and the surface of the lens.

A microscopic view of a headlight resurfaced with abrasives vs one that had be cleaned with a non abrasive cleaner would make the magnitude of the damage a visual reality.

Last edited by Boltaction; 12-30-2013 at 04:31 AM.
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