This quick fix sees me restore and tint the C30’S DRL’s to help it stand out from the mass of other motors now running factory fairy lights.
Although the imperfections didn’t seem to adversely effect the light output, I knew from experience they’d be enough to interfere with the tinting process, as I’d actually attempted it perviously and the cheap Chinese film I used refused lay down over the uneven surface, so I decided to source some decent stuff and do it properly, including restoring the surface.
The first thing to do then was remove the surrounding satin black trim with a small flat head ‘screwy’ wrapped in a microfibre towel to protect the paint, before undoing the unit itself and disconnecting the power cable to free it completely.
Once I’d got it away from the car and under an unforgiving strip light you could see the stone chips a bit better and while they certainly weren’t what I’d call severe, they still left the surface pitted enough to prevent any tinting film from being properly applied.
I’d managed to bag myself an Autoglym Headlight Restoration kit from my local ‘Halfrauds’ on an Amazon price match dealeo, but the pre-cut self healing yellow protection film from the States cost me a pretty penny once the inevitable fine from the greedy tax man had been levied – because how dare I spend money outside the country on a product that isn’t even available here to begin with?! Genius gubbernment logic.
The only other substantial bit of kit I needed for the job was a 12v cordless drill which I’d jacked from my old man’s shed – and that brings me to my next point. I don’t currently have a fancy unit, multi-car garage or man cave of any kind in which to comfortably and confidently film videos, so was forced to instead spend a few dusty hours tidying this old shed up as best I could to make it as easy on the eye as realistically possible!
In order to secure the LED unit it was placed in a bench vice which had been covered with an old a towel to provide some protection, then gently pinched just enough to prevent it from moving around under the extreme torque of the big bad Bosch. I was hoping to get the lens level to make working on and filming it more manageable but its oval shape and protruding connectors meant this was the best I could manage without completely crushing it, which I guess was still better than clasping it between my knobbly knees!
The headlight restoration kit comes with a number of abrasive discs and pads which combine to sand, refine and polish plastic lenses to a crystal clear finish. I started with the most abrasive 800 grit disc to give myself the best shot at removing the pitting and after being centred on the supplied velcro and foam backing plate, it was worked over the surface of the lens dry as the ‘destructions’ on the back of the box advised.
This system is designed to progressively remove surface oxidation not necessarily stone chipping, so while holding the disc flat to the surface would normally be the way to go, I had to edge the pad slightly here to ensure I got enough cut to abrade away those deeper imperfections.
The process was then repeated with a 1500 grit sanding disc, and because I’ve noticed a fair few comments regarding me not wearing safety ‘gliggs’ in my videos, I thought what better way to protect my peepers and put your minds at rest here than by donning a standard-issue Firefighters helmet, complete with thermoplastic visor capable of saving me from searing debris of up to 1000 degrees celsius!
After successfully and more importantly safely sanding down the pitting in the lens with the first two abrasive discs, it was then time to refine them using a pair of considerably less abrasive foam pads. The first, a 2000 grit pad, was primed with water to provide some lubrication before being steadily worked over the surface
There was no need to be quite so aggressive here as the heavy defects had already been removed, this was really more about restoring some level of clarity prior to polishing, however I still made sure the unit was given a good seeing to with the 2000 and 3000 grit pads, re-spritzing both surfaces as necessary in between.
Following a few hits with the pair of pads then, the lens now looked like this… No heavy pitting to be seen which was good but plenty of light hazing which needed polishing out with the Autoglym headlight compound.
A small dollop of the smelly stuff was applied to the waffle-style foam pad before being dabbed over, gently spread and then worked into the lightly scratched lens to instil some much needed transparency.
Now, none of this is really rocket science, you simply position the pad, pull the trigger, hold it steady and work it back and forth over the surface until the compound breaks down. Once it has, you then buff away any residue to hopefully reveal a nice clear looking lens.
The supplied green Autoglym towel I used here conveniently scratched the freshly polished plastic surface up a treat so after donating that to the floor, I repeated the process to remove those freshly inflicted marks and after buffing off with a more familiar towel, this was the outcome.
It wasn’t absolutely perfect but it was a damn sight better than what I’d started off with and most importantly was now completely free from pitting, so I was happy to continue on to the final stage which was of course transforming it into a nice shade of Swedish yellow.
I’d ordered two pairs of the Lamin-X fog light covers as the factory DRL’s are obviously brighter and whiter than standard halogen fogs meaning that a single layer just ends up giving a minty old nicotine-tinged effect but two provides that more authentic golden glow.
Upon test fitting the film it quickly became clear that frustratingly it wasn’t going to fit as perfectly as I’d envisaged and a quick Google confirmed that despite the opening in the surrounding trim being identical for both C30 fogs and DRL’s, the actual shape of the units themselves is slightly different, so I’d just have to make them fit as best I could and hope for no white light bleed around the exposed edges once refitted.
Before peeling the backing paper off I misted my finger tips with water to prevent any greasy prints being left on the film, as well as spritzing the sticky side of the cover itself, before positioning it on the lens as best as I could. It took a bit of fiddling but once I was happy-ish, I worked most of the water out with my fingers to help it tack, before squeegeeing the rest using the old credit-card-inside-a-towel ‘trick’.
I then carefully trimmed off any excess film from around the edge of the lens with a razor blade. Now, I knew I’d have to remove the tabs but the whole reason I’d forked out for these pre-cut covers in the first place was to avoid this kind of faffing, yet here I was faffing yet again!
Once trimmed, I hit it with a hair dryer (cue the jokes about being a skinhead and not needing one), just to eliminate any excess water and help the adhesive bond a little better as it was pretty chilly on the willy in this rickety old shed.
Despite removing my gloves and wetting my fingers earlier to try and appear a little more dextrous and adept, I still managed to get a nice big unsightly fingerprint on the underside of the film, so I put the gloves back on for this last layer. I also went with a detail spray here instead, as the water alone didn’t previously provide enough slip.
Once positioned, the film was again tacked down by hand, before being squeegeed, further trimmed to release any water trapped around the edges of the lens, then hit with the hair dryer to warm the adhesive up and dry the unit off properly prior to refitting.
The two combined layers of film appeared to give a slightly blotchy appearance but the instructions on the pack assured me that any imperfections like this would work their way out over the coming days and weeks as the material is breathable, so hopefully it would just be a matter of time before they fully cleared up.
All that was left to do now then was refit the freshly tinted unit which was simply a case of reconnecting the plug, inserting the two locating tabs into the bumper recess, securing the unit with a single T20 Torx screw and gently clipping the black plastic trim over to conceal the fresh bodge job now lurking behind.
Once the iffy weather had picked up a few days later then, the newly installed lenses were given a bit of a suds-up while the Guru Mobile was treated to a routine maintenance wash and once I’d finished, I could see that they’d cleared up considerably and with a little more time they should get even better, meaning thankfully I won’t have to pull them off – or at least not until I get bored anyway!
While I know you can legally rock yellow dipped beams and fogs here in the UK, I couldn’t find any info in regard’s to daytime running lights but that’s probably because I’m the only pleb who’s attempted tinted them. Either way, I’m not too concerned at this point as I think they suit the car well what with matching the colours of the Nordic Cross, not to mention being far more conspicuous than boring white and therefore a bit safer – or at least that’s how I’m justifying it.