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"As dim as a NAAFI candle"

Minivanman
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"As dim as a NAAFI candle"

.... was an expression my old Dad would often use and one more than likely taken from his days in the Army as a full time regular, but dim as my car headlights in this particular case as after ten years and well over 100,000 miles in all weather's they have become so badly scratched that the 'lights at night' are not as bright as they should be. 

The solution seemed to be to give them a polish with a mild abrasive such as toothpaste or a proprietary cleaner both of which I have tried and both of which have made no (insert any rude word here) difference.

All is not lost as lo and behold when chatting to our local garage mechanic earlier about a possible worn bearing, I mentioned 'the headlight problem' and was told the car valeting business located just behind his own would be able to polish up the pair of them up "like new" for only £20.

Bargain I reckon, and certainly a lot cheaper than having to buy and fit a brand new pair of headlights that's for sure.

Never had this trouble with my many old banger motors back in the late 60s. Proper glass we had back then. 😉

 

64 REPLIES 64
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Re: "As dim as a NAAFI candle"

Some headlights seem prone to the sand papery look. Like mine. Take a look at early 2000 Cleo's and most will have this look.

I've had a few MOT mentions but a buff with a plastic polisher gets rid of the discoloration but not the general scuffyness. It reduces the "look" enough for it to usually go unnoticed in MOT's.

Looking online for the solution I've resisted going all out with fine sandpaper etc etc.

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Re: "As dim as a NAAFI candle"

@Minivanman 

Have you got any WD40 ?

Try that !

Minivanman
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Re: "As dim as a NAAFI candle"

Seriously?

I know it fixes most things, but scratched headlights! 😃

Baldrick1
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Re: "As dim as a NAAFI candle"

Back in my youth I was taught to use Brasso and elbow grease on Perspex that needed refinishing.

Are you sure that it’s not your eyes? A classic comment last month from a getting hard of hearing friend: “I’m sure that fireworks aren’t as loud as they used to be”.

Minivanman
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Re: "As dim as a NAAFI candle"

Ears are my problem, not my eyes.😛

But no, they are scratched with a fine haze over them and I can clearly see the difference (see what I did there) between our ten year old and my daughter's three year old Fiesta. 

Might try the Brasso idea though and rather than elbow grease a drill attachment buffer pad which I have... but there again, maybe not. 😨

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Re: "As dim as a NAAFI candle"

Novus polishing kit, does what you need it to, given they sell it as a headlight restorer... 😁

Minivanman
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Re: "As dim as a NAAFI candle"

Have tried headlight restorer but it made little if any difference. 😞

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Re: "As dim as a NAAFI candle"

As said I've used a proper plastic polish - Plast-Rx - and a drill attachment buffer pad but though it improves it, it's not enough. The proper "online" way is to use different grades of finer and finer sandpaper then finally finish with the plastic polish.

Marksfish
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Re: "As dim as a NAAFI candle"

It is the UV that causes the damage. If you use an abrasive to clean them, you need to put something on as a barrier to prevent it happening again. I used T Cut on mine and 2 weeks later they were as bad again, but the MOT had been done by then 😀

Minivanman
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Re: "As dim as a NAAFI candle"

@Marksfish 

Up to a point perhaps but don't see how it can cause those fine scratches on the lens itself.

I do know that on our porch light UV has been the cause of it's plastic cover to go slightly yellow which is easily cured by clipping it of and soaking in a dilution of bleach and water overnight.

I'll give it another go with the headlights though but I'm pretty sure it'll end up with me taking to the valeting guy in the end. 😉

 

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Minesapint
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Re: "As dim as a NAAFI candle"

I thought Mini vans had 7" sealed beam units made of glass. . .😎

 

Seriously if you use a powered buffing pad on it, watch you don't melt the plastic!

It's easy to get it too hot.

wotsup
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Re: "As dim as a NAAFI candle"

I have used fenwicks caravan window polish and elbow grease to clean up foggy plastic headlights in the past.  But now I clean headlights once a month with autoglym super resin polish to keep surface clean and  provide UV protection.  The foggyness is a result of sunlight on the traffic film attacking the  plastic ( diesel and petrol fumes ) and if you can keep the film under control and stop it building up and a bit of wax for UV protection it works.  Another case of 'an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure'.....

 

If you remove the surface of plastic with harsh mechanical abrasion you also remove what is left of the original UV coating and need to use a clear coat lacquer or an adhesive film to protect the plastic or the foggyness comes back very quickly..

PowerLee
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Re: "As dim as a NAAFI candle"

Lads at my local garage polish up no end of headlights when they fail mot.

They use various grades of wet & dry paper them a variable speed polishing machine for the final compound stage ( it's basically a angle grinder with fine variable speed control )

As for the comment about Clio's - replacement headlamps from the motor factor are cheap enough, they give the customer that option.
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Re: "As dim as a NAAFI candle"


@Minivanman wrote:

don't see how it can cause those fine scratches on the lens itself.


That's what I wonder. On the Clio the date range is quite narrow. A year or so older or later and the lenses look good on them.

And while I'm wondering I've wondered are they really just scratches or some sort of fine "crazing" that goes below the actual surface.

If you get yours done you'll have to post some before and after images.