Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Turtle Wax T-240KT Headlight Lens Restorer Kit

This weekend I had the chance to purchase and test out a headlight restoration kit. I've looked into doing this before but I'm cheap and don't want to pay too much for a kit as well as I don't have a lot of time to spare these days in my daily routine. I saw somewhere on the Internet that said to try toothpaste. About a month after reading that, I finally got to try it. I didn't know if it was a specific kind but I just grabbed what I had. At first, it looked like it did an okay job. The headlight was more clear than it had been but not like I was expecting or wanting. After 24 hours, it the headlight returned to its original hazy state. I don't know why. I just know my toothpaste didn't work.

So, a few weeks later, I get the bug to checkout kits online again. I also saw the commercial for Fast Brite Lens Restorer and it peaked my interest. I doubted the Fast Brite claim of not having to use any sandpaper or such but what did I know. Hence, my research for more information and reviews. After seeing the commercial, I was talking to a friend of mine that mentioned looking into getting his headlights cleaned. I told him about he commercial and some other research I found online but didn't know if it was really worth it. He said if you could get something under $50 and it worked that it was worth it. He said the dealership quoted him $175 and he just laughed. My thought is you are paying for the labor more than the product they use.

My friend and I also recalled that we NEVER got oxidization on headlights when they were made of GLASS! I had a 1974 Chevy Luv pickup and in 1989 the headlights were just as clear as they were brand new. Why? Because the entire piece was replaced and the lights were made of glass. Granted these plastic headlights cut down on costs but to the manufacturer. To the owner, it will cost them more if they get the dealer and any auto repair place to do it.

Anyway, I've been looking into restoring my headlights on my 1999 Grand Caravan. They were pretty foggy and occasionally I felt like the high beams were the low beams and the low beams were just..scary.

I Googled up some research and found this website (here) that compared many products and ranked them by their (the website's) tests as well as reviews across the web from sites like Amazon and other online retailers...I think. I looked at their top four to compare price and ranking. For my 1999 vehicle, I could give up a half or even full star for a better cost benefit. I then weighed in the time it would take to get something (all their product links go to the product listing on Amazon) and the cost of shipping for a "grand total cost" of the product. Looking at the 3 of the top four (#1, #2 and #4 because I thought #3 was the same product as #2) I found that I could get #2-3M 39008 and #4-Turtle Wax T-240KT at Walmart. There are a few Walmarts withing a 5-10 mile radius of my house so that helped decide against purchasing through Amazon. The 3M product was showing at my local Walmart as 'limited supply' which means it could or could not be in stock. The Turtle Wax was the same. I had to make a Walmart run for other things so it wasn't really out of my way to check on the store stock.

On Friday, January 13, 2012, I ended up getting the Turtle Wax T-240KT Headlight Lens Restorer Kit (online at Amazon or at Walmart w/no price) because the 3M 39008 was not in stock. In fact, they had at least six boxes of the T-240KT. That in itself made me a little leery about getting it but with the 4 1/2 stars and costing like $8.97, I thought 10 bucks was worth a test.

I made a point to try this out on Monday the 16th before the weather changed for the worst. The picture below is of my right headlight (left side in the photo) after I did the restoration and the left headlight before restoration. Both headlights were about the same in level of haze. I didn't realize the picture was little dark upon taking it but it was like 11am with overcast skies. I think it still captures the difference.

In my opinion, it was well worth the $8.97+tax! Many of the reviews said it took them about 45 minutes per light. I don't know if it would have made much of a difference but I did mine in about 30 minutes. The second one always goes faster because you're reading the directions while doing the first one. I don't know if 15 minutes of hand sanding would have made a difference but maybe with drill torque it could. I just don't know. I think it turned out well.

So, a few things I noticed from my project.
  • There is a plastic glove in the box for the T-240KT. Not a big deal, it's not shown in any of the pictures on the Internet but it's there. It's recommended or instructed to use only for the last step when applying the lens protectorant.
  • It's slightly messy. The spray lubricant will run no matter what you do. You can see that I taped off the area around the headlight. They probably say to tape the surrounding area for protection from an errant stroke of the sandpaper pads. I never had that issue. The liquids just liked to run a bit and got past the taped area. The spray lubricant doesn't have much of a 'lube' feel as it does just plain old water. Luckily, all areas were able to be cleaned without issue after the process was completed.
  • After all the work on the right headlight and before applying the lens protectorant/sealant, I was disappointed. Initially, the headlight didn't look much different than when I started. I could definitely feel grime on the headlight while sanding but it just wasn't that initial shine and luster when I applied and wiped off the final application of the lens clarifying compound. Not until I applied the handy dandy secret lens protectorant/sealant did the headlight look like I expected. Which is what you see as the final product in the photo.
I guess that's about it. My thoughts are if you could find out what grade of sandpaper each is, then you could get an 8x11 sheet at Home Depot of each. Then get some cheap plastic polisher and some kind of sealant, both similar to the products listed, a person could have a longer supply of the headlight restoring kit for close to the same cost.

You can see a decent How-To video of the Turtle Wax T-240KT product here.

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