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Old 03-31-2017, 09:10 AM   #1
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My stock HHR

So after pay off and 110k miles, it's finally time for a face lift. The first project I've done is to replace interior lights and license plate lights with white LED bulbs.
Right now I'm tinting my new IPCW LED taillights. I'm trying to go with a black and red theme, and the white/silver of the back up lights was just really bright. This weekend they should be installed. I'm really trying for a deep glossy look, so lots of clear, fine grit wet sanding, and buffing and polishing. Hopefully they'll make my paint look way worse than it already is. I have a lot more planned, lots of parts on order, and lots of pictures coming. As always, thank you guys for your contributions to the forum and to all the great knowledge, tips, tricks, and ideas about these great cars we own.

SuKi
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Old 03-31-2017, 09:16 AM   #2
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Neat, keep us posted!
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Old 03-31-2017, 09:25 AM   #3
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2 things:
Check with your local government about painting lenses.
Don't forget the resistors where needed, or you will be back with questions like "my light stays on all the time".
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Old 03-31-2017, 09:44 AM   #4
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Lol, yes on the lenses and reflectors. The reflectors are going to be really lightly coated, but the way law is enforced over here is quite different. I dare say I could take them off and not even be questioned. Seriously, I have a "Guam bomb", a 2000 accord I acquired that only had a working third brake light, passed a safety inspection and get followed by police all the time with no traffic stops. But I do have another set on the way for those just in case times. I'll have them in my spare tire compartment. And yes, I already know why my overhead lights stay on all the time, resistors on the way ��. I do appreciate the heads up though,
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Old 03-31-2017, 10:28 AM   #5
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Did.... Did you sand the housing for your tail lights? The IPCW's?
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Old 03-31-2017, 12:44 PM   #6
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My parents bought a Mazda when they lived on Guam, my dad was the honcho at the Continental Hotel, when they brought it over to the states they were shocked to find out they come without a heater core and that they are required here!
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Old 04-01-2017, 12:56 AM   #7
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Aradmahogany, I did. 800 to start with, two coats of tint, more 800, two more coats of tint. I hit it with some 1500 and I have have lost count of the number of clear coats. Every 3 or 4 coats, I hit it with 1500 again. The last three coats no sanding and thicker than the rest. I'm about to do the final coat now. I have rubbing compound, and liquid wax, but no one on island carries meguiars ultimate polish. It's being shipped right now from Amazon. So it'll be wet sand with 2000 grit, then hit it with rubbing compound and install. In a few days when I get the polishing compound, I'll hit it with that, then wax. This is the look before final clear coat. More pics to come.

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Old 04-01-2017, 01:01 AM   #8
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Donbrew, the wife just got a new Highlander Platinum, with just about every option available. It has heated seats, only because they don't have an option for cooled only seats. No heated steering wheel, engine heater, or heated mirrors. I really hope wherever the navy send me in the future isn't too cold Also, because she got a new vehicle, I got my HHR back and the go ahead to spend some money on it

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Old 04-01-2017, 04:30 AM   #9
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Mad or Happy? I don't know yet.

So I definitely learned some things today, mostly is the appreciation for good body work and those who do it. Also that my patience for painting and sanding is little to none. But here are the installed taillights. First is the lights after a 2000 Grit wet sand. I really took my time with this step and got almost 100% of the orange peel (? It was a term I read online for all of the little bumps and high spots in the paint). The clear was laying super flat and a uniform matte look. I went ahead and installed them because i was thinking it would be easier to control my orbital buffer, i.e. a portable drill with a Mother's Headlight Restoration tool chucked in it, with two hands and have the lights in a solid mount. I really didn't want to put the plastic lights in a vice. I also thought it would be wise to test out the wiring before wasting any more time if the lights were bad (I probably should have done that first before spending 8-10 hours spraying and sanding-lots of sanding. I don't have all that steady of a hand and no spray technique from a rattle can, but i did learn some things by trial and damn, sand some more to fix another mistake).

I turned on the lights, they work perfectly all signals. I was disappointed with the way the tint came out at this point. The LEDs just didn't look very sharp. All of the lights were kind of blurry and I chocked it up to my spraying of the tint. It was the first four coats and most of the lessons I learned came in the many coats of clear. I didn't take any photos of the light on at this point because, well, I thought I was going to be starting over. But at this point I moved forward just to see what would happen. And WOW! Seriously, I don't paint that well and I see a lot of pretty crappy lens tint jobs around this island, but dang these things were sweet, at first. I soon hit the bottom right light with the part of the buffer that connects the pad to its velcro backing and man did it burn through all of the paint immediately. It's on the outer edge where the light is all black, topside of the light, so there are no bright lights shining through a hole in the tint. I was trying to buff out the underside of the top right light when this happened. Soon after that I believe I burned through the clear coat on the top right light. Okay, lets slow the drill down on the bottom right, and try to feather out that terrible loking smudge. It didn't work, but the bottom lens turned out nice. In my head, was told myself it's alright, minor fixes (Ehhh, Maybe? LOL). Lets take it nice and slow on the left side. We can make these babies gleam. And it was taking too long, so I turned the drill back up to fast and I think burned through some clear on the bottom lens. HA, Oh yeah, it took me twice to learn that lesson . But here are the completed, for today, pictures.

Unless anyone with more experience than me, I have about 8-10 hours experience painting with spray cans, can give me some pointers here's my plan to fix the lights. Take out the three that have pretty big imperfections, the two that it looks like I went through the clear coat; wash, sand and more coats of clear. For the one where I took off everything in one place, I plan to either try to tape off a square around the blemish, sand with 180 down to plastic and build back up trying to match the finish, or sand the entire light back down with 180 Grit and start over. If you have any suggestions, I'm all ears.

So all in all, not a bad project. With just the rubbing compound I think they look pretty awesome, and when my polishing compound gets here, and then a coat of wax, I'm pretty sure they will be, you know, alright. I'm not happy about the rework, but I know the process know, and it shouldn't take as long as the first time. And I know what the end result will look like. And I did learn some what not to do's for when I spray paint my wheel covers. And I didn't go to work on a weekend and spent most of the day working on my car. Yeah I'm happy for the time being Enjoy the pics (sorry about phone camera quality), and as always, thank you for the ideas, answers and knowledge shared on this forum.

SuKi
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Old 04-01-2017, 07:59 AM   #10
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One thing to grasp when doing this type of work! Step back twenty feet, if they look awesome, you're done ! You won't see these when you're driving, so yeah, they're awesome!
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