X5 Headlamp Refurbishment

I’ve recently acquired an X5. That decision and outcome probably deserves a blog post in itself, but for now I’d like to focus on the only MOT minor fault noted, which was “Nearside Front Headlamp lens slightly defective (4.1.1 (b) (i))”.

Naturally I don’t have a great photo of the issue, but both headlamps were certainly ageing following 80,000 miles and 15 years of battling with the elements. As a result they looked a little misty and marked, so I can see where the MOT tester was coming from.

The problem was most apparent when viewed from above:

The Autoglym headlamp restoration kit was recommended to me by Ste Nelson. His post on this matter probably makes much of my post superfluous, and he certainly did a better job than me:

https://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?t=1794455&i=33

The first step is to prepare the headlamp for treatment.

The second step is to take 800 grade sandpaper to your headlamps via a drill attachment. It seems to immediately ruin the lamps, and it feels like the only option is a £xxx fork-out for a new set. Imperative to hold one’s nerve.

With hindsight here I can see that I needed more nerve – I needed to go at my lenses longer with this more coarse paper to really remove all the worn outer layer. One day I may get another kit and go over them again to get them looking pristine, but even so, this procedure has certainly taken years off the car.

The process involves using finer and finer grades of paper and ends with a polish.

The results are most satisfying!

I then tackled the car’s left lens a few nights later. As Ste mentions – it is a messy business!

Overall, I’m dead chuffed with the outcome of this process. It is very rewarding to know I’ve already dealt with the main MOT advisory without resorting to a new part; extending the life of the old headlamps with a bit of graft instead.

5 comments so far

  1. Paul on December 18th, 2019 22:33

    Don’t forget to coat the lenses, otherwise they’ll just fade again.

    Did I donate those springs to you about 10 years ago? LOL

  2. Neil Mukerji on December 18th, 2019 22:46

    Indeed you did! Ian also gave me a set when I bought the car from him, but I used yours this time as a part of my first-in-first-out stock rotation policy. And yes, some kind of UV coating will need to go on, though it doesn’t feel urgent this time of year and I might re-process the lights again before I do that. Thanks again for the springs!

  3. Paul on December 19th, 2019 20:36

    Glad they were of use, eventually. ;) They were originally destined for my e46 touring 325i m sport. 6 pot for 6 pot.

  4. Ian on January 22nd, 2020 06:48

    As a E46 Touring owner considering an E53 myself, I’d be very interested to read your ‘decision and outcome…blog post’, maybe even a comparison between the two? Great posts anyway, keep it up.

  5. Neil Mukerji on January 22nd, 2020 09:55

    Hi Ian, thanks for reading. It’s a very different ownership experience. I’m not sure I’d want to sacrifice an E46 Touring for it, but if you can run them alongside one another, they are a useful combo. Of course, I’m comparing a 330d with a 4.8iS – which isn’t really fair. Perhaps a move from a 330d to the X5 3.0d, or from a 330i to the X5 4.4i would make more sense!

    I’m still in that initial ownership phase of putting right various niggles that have been neglected, so its running cost per mile is sky high at the moment. Over time of course that will settle. Perhaps a useful comparison could be drawn in a year or so. :)

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