Ok, this is the ever popular clear lens mod for the '99 WJ the “Gritz” way. First, I want to say that this is just how I did it and if you have a better way of doing parts or the whole process, then please let everyone on here know so I don't steer anyone wrong. I was also pretty limited on work area, equipment and expertise on this particular project, so just bear with me.
First I'll do a brief explanation of the process and purpose and then give a parts list and get started with the write up. I tried taking as many detailed pictures as I could, but most are not necessary because this mod is very simple. If anyone needs extra info, let me know.
I really wanted to do this mod because my headlights were looking really gross and I really like the look of the clear lenses up front. I had seen where other people had done this to their Jeeps and really liked it, so kudos to whoever thought of this first. I wet sanded the whole lens as well to smooth it out and hopefully get the headlights back to newish looking (more on this idea later).
You will need the following: (assuming you are going to follow my instructions)
-Waterproof sand paper (600, 1000, and 2000 grit)
-Blue masking tape (painter's tape) or equivalent
-Plastic grocery sacks (butcher's paper, or newspaper will also work fine)
-Permatex Spray 'n Seal or equivalent
-7mm nut driver or socket (with ratchet if using socket)
-Assorted torx head bits (I think a T-15 and T-20)
-Amber bulbs (2 turning signal and 4 marker)
-A cookie sheet
-Access to an oven
-A Flat tipped screwdriver
-And one Jeep with nasty looking headlights
First off you are going to want to get the headlight out. This is the easiest vehicle I’ve ever pulled the headlights off of.
1. Pop the hood.
2. Locate the 7mm hex bolt that holds the headlight assembly in place (indicated by my index finger).
3. Loosen the 7mm hex bolt with a socket and ratchet or nut driver and pull it straight up and out.
4. Pull the entire headlight assembly straight out. You my break the clips that hold it in, but I only have one that isn’t partially broken of missing. I’m going to run by the dealer’s and get a set of them later and will update you on the cost of the clips.
5. Remove all the bulbs by twisting them and pulling them straight out.
Now you have the headlight assembly free from the Jeep and are ready to get to work. The first thing I did was strip off all the pieces from the back of the headlight.
This idea seemed really awesome to me at first and I was very optimistic of the outcome of this process. Here’s how I did it.
1. Get your 600 grit waterproof sandpaper and get yourself a piece big enough to use with one hand. Wet it and start working it in circles over the front of the headlight lens. I just kept rewetting the paper and then rinsing the lens off as I went along to keep the residue to a minimum.
2. Keep sanding with the 600 grit paper until the front is completely smooth and then rinse it off.
3. Now you are ready for the 1000 grit paper. I used the same process, but worked it in smaller circles and pressed down just enough so that my hand didn’t slide off the paper.
This is what the lens looked like after the 1000 grit paper.
4. I stopped and let the lens dry to check my progress. I was not particularly impressed and was worried after seeing how bad the lens looked, but just told myself that 2000 grit was really fine and would do wonders.
5. Now it was time to move on to the 2000 grit paper. I did the exact same procedure as the 1000 grit sandpaper and just made sure to cover the entire lens.
And after the 2000 grit
The lens DID NOT go back to the newish looking shine I’d hoped for, but I think it is a slight improvement over what it was before and the headlight actually seems brighter in use than the other one I haven’t done yet. I also take into consideration that the concept that I took this wet sanding procedure from is meant for different materials and is accompanied by a high speed buffing afterwards, so the fact that it doesn’t shine does not surprise me. I’m going to continue to look for something to help with getting the shine back.
Now we move on to the more common mod of pulling the two inner amber reflectors out of the headlight assembly. This was a very simple procedure and took very little effort.
1. Since you already have the headlight completely stripped down, the headlight is ready to go. Just preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Now get your cookie sheet (or baking pan, whatever you call it or decide to use – a flat metalish thing is what we’re going for) and set your wooden spoons down on the pan and situate them to keep the headlight assembly off the pan or it will melt (ask me how I know to do this).
3. Put the headlight into the oven and leave it for about 5-7 minutes.
4. Pull the headlight out (very carefully – use heatpads) and get a flat tipped screwdriver and start prying the clear lens away from the black casing.
5. Once you have the lens started on it’s way off, just keep pulling it off. I let it cool down a little bit and just used my hands to pry it all the rest of the way off.
6. Once you have the lens off, go ahead and start pulling the baffle out of the lens. Be careful not to get any of the black tar-like stuff on the clear lens. As you are doing this the side reflector will probably just fall out (mine did). You’ll have to be fairly quick about all this in order to keep from reheating the lens. This is why I didn’t get many pictures. I’m going to have my wife take pictures today to try and get some better pictures.
You could just quit here and call it a day, but I’m a little over zealous sometimes. I wanted to make sure the headlight would not leak, so I sealed it with permatex Spray ‘n Seal. Here’s the process.
13. Tape off the headlight assembly on both sides of the seam with blue painter’s tape. You should only have a narrow area showing all the way around where the seam is.
14. Now cover both the case and the lens with grocery sacks (or newspaper – whatever you’d like). This stuff is pretty sticky and makes a pretty good mess.
15. Now take it all outside (here you can see the grocery sack paint booth on my front porch) to get it all sprayed up.
16. Spray a liberal coat of Spray ‘n Seal all the way around and then work it into the seem with your finger (you might want to wear some latex gloves for this if you’ve got them).
17. Let it all dry for about 45 minutes.
18. Peel off all the painter’s tape and grocery sacks.
19. Place all the pieces you removed from the back of the headlight.
20. Replace the turn signal bulb and the marker bulbs with the new amber colored ones.
21. Connect all the bulbs.
22. Pop the headlight back into place.
23. Secure it in place with the 7mm hex bolt and tighten it back up.
24. Adjust the headlight for up and down with the 7mm set screw and you’re done.
I’m going to try and get more pictures when I do this again today. It got dark on me before I finished and the pictures really sucked, so I stopped taking them. Hope this was informative and helps someone out.
Thanks 3fifty. I just wanted to do my part to help others out just as everyone has helped me - that includes the idea for this mod. Here are some after pictures to compare what mine looked like before as compared to after. You can see that the clear lens is a little hazy, but I feel it is still an improvement over what I had to start with.
good work. get that bffing compound and just do it by hand. it will clear up all the tiny scratches from the 2k grit and then put a coat of wax on the lens to protect it from uv rays.(the cause of the problme.)
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Thanks for all the suggestions. I figured there would be something I could do to get them looking totally new. I used some armorall in the mean time and they look really good. Here is the final finish with both headlights installed.
Thanks again guys. I think I'm going to go today and try to find some of the above mentioned items and try them out to see if I can get the results I originally set out for.
Really it's not that much work. I've spent a total of about 7 hours from start to finish and that includes running back and forth between Autozone, the apartment and the Jeep. After all is said and done the final total for all things I needed was about $35. I'm pleased with my results and had fun doing this project and the write-up. I think it would have only taken about four hours if I wouldn't have stopped to take pictures all along the way and if I just skipped the spray 'n seal.
While I'm here, I went ahead and got the Mcguire's Plastx and the Blue Magic lens cleaner to try them out and get a comparison. After all was said and done both products gave me a very similar shine on the first coat. That said, on the second coat, the Blue Magic got a little better where as the Mcguire's showed no improvement. this was also true for the 3rd and 4th coats, but the Blue Magic quit getting better after that. I tried taking pictures, but you really couldn't tell a difference in the pictures. So the Blue Magic took the cake for best shine alone. I decided to try the Mcguire's over the top of the Blue Magic and this improved the shine once again. I'll also say that the Mcguire's seems to be more of a wax than a buffing agent as the Blue Magic seemed to be. Also the Mcguire's PlastX had a cleanish smell to it as the Blue Magic smells similar to Brasso.
Conclusion: Being that both products have a similar price per ounce cost and get very similar results, it is pretty much personal preference. I'm going to stick with both to use the Blue Magic first and then finish with the Mcguire's. If I had to pick only one, I would pick the Blue Magic. BTW Blue Magic cost $5.99 and the PlastX cost $6.99.
The plastX is pretty much a wax. I used 3M brand medium grit rubbing compound first. Like I mentioned earlier, the compound is like 10,000 grit sand paper. Is the Blue Magic an all in one? Sounds like it works well.
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