Category Archives: Artcar

Make-It Monday: Failed attempt to defog headlights

I keep seeing these dramatic before-and-after photos on Pinterest that show how you can defog old plastic headlight covers using cheap toothpaste.

I was pretty sure this was crap the first time I read it, but I figured it was worth a try, since the headlights on the Dreamcar were covered with black walnut sap, the plastic was yellowed, I’d gotten overspray on them after forgetting to mask them off last time I painted the hood, and toothpaste costs a dollar a tube. If it didn’t work, I was going to have to replace them anyway, so why not give it a try?

Have I mentioned how much I hate the black walnut tree next door?
Have I mentioned how much I hate the black walnut tree next door?

Following several sets of instructions I found online, I applied some Ultra-Brite toothpaste to the headlights with an old toothbrush.

Here we go.
Here we go.
Totally covered.
Totally covered.

I scrubbed it around with the toothbrush for several minutes and then hosed it off. The sap came off, but the plastic still looked pretty bad, so I took some advice I found on another how-to-clean-your-headlights post and reapplied the toothpaste, using a Scotch-Brite pad to scrub it off.

When I rinsed, it looked pretty good — not perfect, but less yellow, maybe, and most of the overspray came off — but as the water dried, the plastic fogged back up and looked worse than it had to start with:

I'm not sure this is an improvement.
I’m not sure this is an improvement.

Back to Pinterest. A commenter on one of the how-to articles I’d found suggested applying olive oil. Another suggested vinegar. I’d made a pretty effective furniture polish out of a mixture of the two and still had some left under the sink, so I ran in and got it. Definitely an improvement:

Shiny again. Sort of.
Shiny again. Sort of.

Another commenter said the best method was to attach an old sock to a belt sander, put the toothpaste on it, and use it to buff out the scratches. Several commenters agreed with this, so I found a worn-out running sock and gave it a go.

At least I'm recycling.
At least I’m recycling.

Buffing seemed to help some, and I suspect if I’d done it first — before I took out after the plastic with that abrasive Scotch-Brite pad — it would have helped more, but I was still underwhelmed.

Yet another commenter insisted WD-40 is the way to go. Well, of course. Anything that can’t be fixed with WD-40 or duct tape belongs in the trash. I rummaged around under the kitchen sink, found my WD-40, and applied it, buffing it in with a fresh sock on the sander.

This was the result:

I swapped sap and discoloration for scratches.
I swapped sap and discoloration for scratches.

Not bad at first glance. Maybe an improvement. But as soon as it rained, they fogged up again and looked like frosted glass in the dark — very pretty, but I’m not sure you’re supposed to drive with a Streisand filter* over your headlights.

Conclusion: This method is, indeed, utter crap. The sock on a sander might work without any of the substances I applied, but the toothpaste and Scotch-Brite just scratched up the plastic and made it worse. I’d also be leery of using anything abrasive or acidic near a factory paint job, as I’m not sure what it would do to the finish.

Pinterest fail. I’ll take the Dreamcar to the Honda dealership next weekend.

Emily

*My friend Brandey’s term. We used to watch a lot of old Barbra Streisand movies, and Brandey noticed the cinematographers always used a soft camera filter on her close-ups.

I don’t even know.

When my sister bought me a set of KISS Lego figures for Christmas last year, I assumed that was as weird as it got. Clearly, I was mistaken, as evidenced by the Lego Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega figures you see pictured above. My friend Jeffrey found them at Hastings on Monday and promptly bought them for me to glue on my dashboard. I have no idea who thought the world needed Pulp Fiction Lego figurines — or why — but that person is obviously a genius and deserves a Royale with cheese and whatever is in the suitcase for coming up with something this brilliant.

I had yesterday off in exchange for working New Year’s Day, so I seized the opportunity to install Jules, Vincent and some other characters I’ve acquired in the past few months:

The Silent, Cyberman and second Roman-soldier Auton have been sitting on my piano for months, waiting to join their brethren on the dashboard.
The Silent, Cyberman and second Roman-soldier Auton have been sitting on my piano for months, waiting to join their brethren on the dashboard.
Doctor Who Titan figures are sold in blind boxes. Someone had opened this one and then -- inexplicably -- left it on the shelf at Hastings, where I happily snapped it up.
Doctor Who Titan figures are sold in blind boxes. Someone opened this one and then inexplicably left it on the shelf at Hastings, where I happily snapped it up. I thought David Tennant would look good next to Ryne Sandberg, whose hand is visible to the right of the TARDIS.
We found St. Francis of Assissi in a little Catholic bookstore in Las Vegas, N.M., on our vacation this summer. I had to have him, of course.
We found St. Francis of Assissi in a little Catholic bookstore in Las Vegas, N.M., on our vacation this summer. I had to have him, of course.
I found Jesus in Las Vegas, N.M. And glued him on my dashboard, of course.
I found Jesus at the same bookstore. And glued him on my dashboard, of course.
I think I got this dragon at a bead shop in Flagstaff.
I think I got this dragon at a bead shop in Flagstaff.
No idea who this kachina is, but that side-eye was too epic to pass up. I think I found him at the Continental Divide Trading Post.
No idea who this kachina is, but that side-eye was too epic to pass up. IIRC, I found him at the Continental Divide Trading Post. Apparently he’s not a KISS fan.

Hope your day was filled with fun stuff worthy of gluing onto your dashboard.

Emily