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That Guy
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Discussion Starter #1
Those whom have followed me have seen me go through a couple of different headlight iterations, and I've gotten a few questions on how I've done it, what I used, and why I've taken the approach that I have. I figured that I would put this in a centralized thread for those whom are considering it.

There are two ways that you can tint your headlights-with vinyl or spray. Because vinyl is pretty much self-explanatory, I wanted to concentrate this on spray. There are advantages of using spray that aren't as easily achieved with vinyl, such as designs and longevity. But when considering spray tint you have two additional choices-whether or not to sand your lenses prior to applying tint. I will cover the pro's and cons to each.

No-Sanding
The advantage of not sanding your headlights is quite simple-ease of reversibility. All you really need should you decide you want to go back to OEM is some gasoline (mineral spirits, etc.), a couple of rags, and a couple of hours. The cons of not sanding your headlights is that because it is so easily removed, road debris will easily remove it. I highly recommend that those whom consider not sanding their headlights consider utilizing a light smoke or clear vinyl to protect the tint for longevity.

Sanding
So I listed that spray tinting has a pro over vinyl in longevity, then just told you to use vinyl to protect the spray for longevity. Where spray tint gains longevity over vinyl is when you sand your headlights prior to application. This gives the spray a surface to bind with and allows it to adhere properly. With the benefit being longevity, the downside is reversibility. It isn't impossible to reverse spray tint that was applied over sanded headlights, but it requires a significant amount of additional work and your lenses may not get back to original clarity.

Tools
1 Mk3 Focus with 2 headlights installed
1 bottle isopropyl alcohol
Clean No-Lint Cloths (prefferably cheesecloth)
1 roll painters tape
1 can VHT or Rustoleum Lens Tint
1 can Clear spray
1 green Scotch pad (optional)
1 1500/2000 grit sandpaper (optional)
1 2500+ grit sandpaper (optional)
1 sanding block, foam (optional)
1 small bucket of water (optional)

Here is how I did it-
1. Clean your headlights fully and finish with a thorough wipe with the isopropyl alcohol and lint-free cloth.
2. With headlights on car, determine the area you want to remain clear and mask your outline with painters tape. Depending on your level of CDO, this may take longer than you think.
3. Remove headlights
4. Mask the rest of the headlight both inside your outline and all of your housing that you don't want sprayed. Be aware of the area of clear lens that extends past where the hood/bumper align. You will want to ensure that these areas also get coverage.
5. For those wanting to use the more-permanent solution, scuff your headlights with the green pad. You want to achieve a uniform hazing everywhere that you want the tint, indicating a uniform level of micro-scratching for adhesion. Re-clean with the alcohol and cloths thoroughly.
6. Following the directions on the can-spray. Key points here are to apply light coats with constant distance from your pieces. I prefer to spray both headlights simultaneously to ensure that they are uniform in appearance.
7. When you have achieved the tint that you are wanting (a little darker than what you want if you intend on wet sanding), allow the paint to flash. This is the moment when it goes from the glossy wet to slightly hazy dry and should occur within the first 15 minutes or so. Once you have a uniform flash, slowly pull your tape at a 45-90 degree angle (or whatever the instruction on the tape says).
8. Allow cure time per can instructions. Follow optional steps now if you want a smooth, glossy finish.
9. If not following optional steps either cover with vinyl or re-install as is.

Optional steps for those wanting to remove orange peel-
After allowing your tint to fully cure, take your foam sanding block and wrap it with the 1500/2000 grit paper. Using very light pressure, lightly sand all of the tinted areas in one direction. Pay attention to curvature, try to avoid getting near the edges, and use plenty of water. You only want to level the surface, so try to keep the scratching/hazing uniform. Once a uniform surface is achieved, you want to go over it in the same manner but perpendicularly with the 2500/3000 grit sandpaper until the previous scratches are removed. Your surface should now be uniform but dull-looking. Re-mask the back side of the headlights. Wipe the front down with water and the lint-free cloth, and when dry apply your clear-coat. I usually go relatively thick (usually a couple more sprays than I did with the tint) because once this layer is cured you will do the exact same wet-sanding but also introduce compounding and polishing afterwards. Follow up with sealant/wax as you normally would on your painted surfaces.

For those that want to sand/wet sand but are concerned with messing up their new OEM headlights, I would recommend trying to find a salvage yard with an inexpensive lens to practice on first.

So there you go. Depending on your commitment and the look you want to ultimately achieve, this can take a day or a week. Use the same process for tail/third-brake lights, though covering with vinyl is not necessary/recommended as they are not going to be taking a beating from road debris. I will edit in some pics of my car and some of the process from OEM to tinted and back from my phone in a minute (note the pock-marks on the tinted lens in the final pic). Feel free to ask any questions or add to this if you have a recommendations.




 

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Prăk-Tí-Kűhl
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Thanks! I am considering doing this, so this will help fo sho! :p

But first I need to follow your rule #1 and get my MK3 with two headlights installed [8D]
 
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That Guy
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Discussion Starter #4
Lol, but then I would have chrome inserts so the look wouldn't have been the same. But in all honesty I did get considerable backlash for spraying Ti headlights. If Ford would just give me the euro headlights then I wouldn't have to bother.

Lesson-If you tint your headlights it is Ford's fault. Probably won't get you out of a ticket, but makes for fun stories [thumb]
 
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Love it. Wish I had a printable layout to do the same as I don't know think I'd have matching headlights. One wouldn't be the same as the other. Haha.
 

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That Guy
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Discussion Starter #7
Love it. Wish I had a printable layout to do the same as I don't know think I'd have matching headlights. One wouldn't be the same as the other. Haha.
It definitely wasn't the simplest thing for me to do. On the bright side, there is a line molded in along the bottom and inboard sides of the clear lens to follow, so the only part that has to be free-handed (on this particular design) is the brow and the outboard area in which they connect.

 

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That Guy
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Discussion Starter #8
Totally Unnecessary
What about trade in Value ?
I'm not sure what personal modifications are considered 'necessary'[scratch] In regards to trade-in, maybe you didn't read the whole thread. I specifically outlined the difficulty (or ease) of reversing the mod. I even showed a picture of one lens after I removed the tint. Outside of someone personally knowing my car, no dealership will have the slightest clue that mine were sprayed. Because I am concerned with reversibility I outlined not only how to spray the tint with that consideration but also how to protect it as it is inherently weaker by design.

The overall point of this thread is to help people that are interested in doing this kind of modification to their car. It helps answer some basic questions that some may have and allows me to give a little bit more thorough of an explanation without having to bang out a bunch of different replies to pm's. As an added bonus, if someone has a better tip or trick, it applied for a centralized location for everyone to see it and benefit or learn from it.
 

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Totally Unnecessary
What about trade in Value ?
Lol did you even read his post ? This is legal in most states so I will be trying this out this weekend will post pics when I finish. I've been waiting for this write up thanks dyno
 

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Rubber Side Down
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Hey dyn085. I'd like to see a pic with the orange lights on if you could so kindly oblige.
 

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That Guy
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Discussion Starter #11
Hey dyn085. I'd like to see a pic with the orange lights on if you could so kindly oblige.
Unfortunately, I don't have any pics of it during the daylight. I will say that I sprayed mine pretty dark and didn't wet sand any, but it was still visible during the day. It was dark enough that I did get a couple of second looks from 'the man', but never got stopped for it. I initially had a plan to wet-sand a design into it to make it a little more noticeable and different, but never really got around to it. I haven't fully removed the tint from the second lens, so I will leave the signal area as-is and get a picture for you when I get my car back from the shop.

Not that it's the same, but here's a short video with my car parked on the wall and apparently a cricket. It's not a fair example because it's dark, but it's moderately amusing to me because I screwed up the video so bad.

 

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Rubber Side Down
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Yeah not the greatest vid (no offense). I like the way the tint makes the headlights look...uhhh...squinty(?). Did the tint cut in to the headlight beam at all?
 

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That Guy
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Discussion Starter #13
Yeah not the greatest vid (no offense). I like the way the tint makes the headlights look...uhhh...squinty(?). Did the tint cut in to the headlight beam at all?
No offense taken, it was definitely a crappy video. I actually had initially taken it because someone wanted to see the color spectrum of the mirror signal-lights. It's also when my phone was new and I didn't know that it only records correctly when being held sideways.

I did get a small amount of reduced cutoff, but it was just slightly dinner in that area if that makes any sense. Because the light was still able to shine through it did, just not at full brightness. If someone actually painted their lights with black instead of tinting them then it would be more noticeable. I already removed the brow from the second light otherwise I would get a picture of the difference.

I used to use the word squinty to describe it, but after seeing it enough it grew to straight-up condescending. The more I lower it the more aggressive it looks. I think it works well with the anti-Mazda front fascia. Here is a crappy Instagram picture I took in the mirror of my Armada after installing my new wheels/tires (approximately 8mm more drop)-
 

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Nevermind that looks sexy^^^^ ill be doing it when I get off [headbang]
 

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Thanks for taking the time to post this! I have a weekend project now [thumb]

What does everyone think of buying some kind of sticker that is diamond or an arrow and putting it over the turn signal bulb area and taking it off after the tint job? That way you would still have a little signal, lol
 

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That Guy
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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for taking the time to post this! I have a weekend project now [thumb]

What does everyone think of buying some kind of sticker that is diamond or an arrow and putting it over the turn signal bulb area and taking it off after the tint job? That way you would still have a little signal, lol
Honestly, that was my original plan though I was just going to do 1 inch circles. Then I changed my mind as was just going to outline a shape after the tint dried and wet sand it in. then I did nothing.

The only problem with doing a shape pre-spray is that it has to be something with very minimal adhesion, clean edges, and no residue. You also need to equip it with a pull-tab so that you can pull it before that tint dries.

Here is another pic during tint removal, with the one signal left for pictures when installed-
 

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For a pull tab I was thinking a small piece of toothpick behind the sticker, use a exacto to get at it and peel it from the inside out. Think that would work?
 

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That Guy
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Discussion Starter #18
I would do a couple of dry runs, but yeah-it sounds legit.
 

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Rubber Side Down
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I want to do mine, been wanting to, but I just have this feeling it won't look nearly as good on the all chrome housing headlights.
 
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