Tail Light Reflector Repair

Discussion in 'DIY - Do It Yourself Forum' started by lmazing86, Aug 27, 2012.

  1. lmazing86

    lmazing86 Member

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    In my effort to try to repay the 6th Gen. forum for all the help they’ve given me, I present to you number 2 in the list of DIYs that I am doing to my fiancée’s 98 sedan. My first thread, restoring headlights, included a massive list of things that need to be done to the vehicle. I started with the headlights, now it was time for the taillights.

    The taillights in her car had started leaking at some point in the distant past. They leaked into the truck and into the light housing itself. Because of this the reflector coating was starting to peal, as you can see in the picture below. Since it was predominantly on the reverse lamp region, it didn’t decrease drivability, but just looked terrible.

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    I finally decided that it just wasn’t acceptable to look at so I took the two inner taillights off (3 8mm nuts and a plastic clip) and took them inside. I used the procedure I’ve researched for pulling apart headlights. Start with a cookie sheet, place damp paper towels on the cookie sheet, then place the light on the damp towels. Have the oven preheated to 200 degrees and insert the lights. Check the lights every 5 or so minutes and gently try to pry them open (there are 8 tabs that hold them closed). If they don’t go, don’t force them. Put them back in the oven. You’re trying to soften up the glue by doing this. Keep trying until you can get them pried open.

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    Next I scuffed up the surface with a scotchbrite pad, although anything slightly abrasive will work for this step. You want to get the loose reflective coating off of the housing.

    After scuffing and cleaning I used Krylon Metallic Silver spray paint and gave the affected area a series of 4-5 coats. I gave each coat a minute or 2 to dry before the next coat, and made sure to give the entire thing 15 minutes to dry after the final coat. The 15 minutes is important as the housing will be put back into the oven to re-soften up the glue. If you don’t wait the paint will bubble and look awful…..trust me….I wasted about an hour because of this. The picture is non-bubbled.

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    This second time in the oven was only for 5-8 minutes as the glue just needed to soften slightly. Then I pushed the lens back into place, verifying that the tabs were all seated. Voila!

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    A few things to note…..the Krylon spray paint will not be as brilliant as the original reflective surface. For looks, it’s great, but for reflectivity it’s less than ideal. I know this because one of the running light reflector bowls was slightly damaged so I sprayed that. The other was not so I left it be. At night with the running lights on, the sprayed side is 5%-10% dimmer and doesn’t “sparkle” in the same way. It’s noticeable, but you have to look for it. A passerby might not even notice the difference. Unfortunately I don’t have pictures that right now.
     
  2. RedRyder

    RedRyder Be a better driver

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    Nice. I used some “chrome” paint in one of my front turn signal reflectors and I actually like it better. It’s less reflective but it is more satin, so it spreads out the light more evenly, and fills out the lens better.
     
  3. blackcord

    blackcord Well-Known Member

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    All those chrome paint never ever comes out shiney, but apparently if you first apply Rustoleum Black enamel paint before shooting the chrome paint, then that will make it more shiney. I never tried that, but see this video here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHRhwvgZn3o
     
  4. FreSH4dr

    FreSH4dr Well-Known Member

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    nice, i wonder if u could do something with the lense to make them red and whites?
     
  5. lashlee

    lashlee Well-Known Member

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    Great diy! I need to do this to mine!
     

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