How to Polish your Glass Headlight Lenses, Step by Step
I'm currently embarked on a now 5-month restoration of my daily driver, a 1995 Audi S6 Avant. I like doing almost everything I can myself for a number of reasons--I gain new skillsets and knowledge, save money, and have a lot of fun.
Some things, however, like the actual painting of the vehicle itself, are best left to the professionals. To be able to afford my paint job, the guys over at Rose Custom and Collisions allowed me to disassemble the car myself and deliver it to them in pieces. This saved me thousands of dollars in labor and allowed me to get extremely intimate with the assembly and construction of a mid-1990s German super wagon.
My S6 was previously owned by the Vice President of the Audi Club of North America, who resided in Minneapolis. The great thing about Minneapolis is that they don't salt their roads; they use sand instead. Apart from being a more environmentally friendly choice, salt doesn't destroy our cars or cause major headaches. The one downside to sand is that it mixes into the snow/water mixture on the road and gets kicked up by the car in front of you--effectively sandblasting the entire front end of your car.
The S6 was no exception; its headlights were badly pitted with thousands of tiny imperfections. Now in the process of reassembly, I've found that I can't just simply slap the car back together, as some of the parts will look terrible against the new miles-deep emerald green metallic.
Unlike most modern cars, the lenses are actually glass, so all the products on the market to polish plastic lenses were completely ineffective. Replacement lenses are around $200, and I couldn't locate any articles online regarding glass restoration, so I decided to tackle this myself. How hard could it be?
Step 1: Mouse + 100 grit, 120 grit, 240 grit, 320 grit pads.
Step 2: Lots of sandpaper (600-1500) and sanding pad, squirt bottle filled with water for wet sanding.
Step 3: $69.99 Eastwood Glass Polishing kit.
Step 4: Put on the most aggressive grit you have onto the mouse and really push it into the glass as hard as you can for 45 minutes to one hour. Use a lot of pressure, as much as you can.
Step 5: Realize this is a gigantic waste of time and buy new lenses.
Note all the pits still present after sanding with 100 grit for over an hour. Wow, glass is hard stuff. Oh well, at least I tried.
--Rob The SVX Guy