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Restore Sun-Faded Tail Lights

Ready to restore those Sun-Faded Tail Lights?

I recently bought an 850 wagon that had severely sun burnt tail lights. I decided to try and polish them myself and had some pretty good results that I wanted to share with others who may have similar problems.

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Here are the step by step instructions.

  1. Remove tail light assembly from vehicle.
  2. The level of deterioration of your lenses will determine the starting grit of sand paper; mine were really bad, actual textured crispy white plastic layer with heavy scratches. I started with 120 grit wet sanding.
  3. Work each grit of sand paper, dipping in cool water regularly to keep the lens wet and clean the sand paper, progress to the finer and finer grits. I used 120, 320, 800, 1500 and finally 2000 grit. I spent about 10 minutes with the coarsest grit, and worked down progressively to the finest at about 3-4 minutes. It helps to wipe and dry the lens at after each grit to see how it looks dry. When wet the lens will look really good, you need to dry it to really see how the progress is coming.
  4. After working through all the grits of paper, wash the lens with soap and water, don’t use any kind of scouring sponge, a plastic bristle brush works best (you don’t want to scratch all your hard work at this point). Dry the lens thoroughly.
  5. Using a plastic polish, I picked up a bottle at an auto parts store for $6, work the lens following the directions of you particular polish.
  6. Buff the lens with a clean dry towel and admire your hard work.

This Tutorial courtesy Chris L. Thanks Chris!

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Great article. This is the process I’ve used many times and it works like a charm.
Stephen, I’m going to give your additional process a shot. Although I’ve been pleased with the results of the process you’re results are like mine in that they don’t look new. I’m going to try your additional steps on an 83/240 I’m refurbishing. Thanks to both of you!

Stephen Tamiesie says:

Thanks Chris! My tail lights have been sun faded since I purchased my 850 a few years ago and their appearance has driven me crazy! The only thing that made me more angry was looking at the cost to get them replaced -about $500 from the dealer.
I recently did this sand and polish process and have another step to add that made a HUGE difference for my tail lights. After sanding the lenses, cleaning and drying I applied the plastic polish, which still did not reproduce the glossy surface quality of the original tail lights. They were clean, but still dull. I purchased a can of clear coat for about $6 from an auto parts store and applied several even coats (the entire can) to the newly sanded and cleaned lenses. Once the clear coat was dry (24 hrs) I sanded the lenses w/ 1500 grit sandpaper to smooth the clear coat application. Then I re-polished w/ the plastic polish and reinstalled. The lenses now look new! Thanks again Chris!

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