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Restoring Automotive Tail Lamps

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by wiedemann, Oct 6, 2008.

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  1. wiedemann

    wiedemann Guest

    After a recent bulb replacement, I noticed that the reflective coating
    in the tail lamps of my late nineties Honda Civic is beginning to
    flake off. Bulbs are stock wattage and so I believe this
    deterioration is simply due to age. Rather than discard a otherwise
    intact set, are there any spray coatings available to a DIYer that
    could restore functionality to these tail lamps? If it helps at all,
    the reflectors in the tail lamp are not faceted.

    I have found Krylon's Reflect-A-Lite product
    ( as
    well as Eastwood's chrome galvanized
    ( and
    reflective aluminum
    aerosols. I am not sure which would be the best option or if there
    are any other products worth considering.

    I thank the group in advance for any insight it may provide.

  2. wiedemann

    wiedemann Guest

    This is all very good information; thank you. The lamp surface looks
    to be painted as it is not nearly as it is much duller than a
    headlamp. I took some pictures of the damage to give a better idea:

    Picture 1 -

    Picture 2 -

    This was with a stock wattage bulb and there was no water in the tail
    lamps during my ownership (purchased the car used two years ago).

    To remove the lens from the tail lamp, I plan on heating it up in the
    oven briefly and then separating the two once the sealant becomes weak
    enough. The process seems to work well enough for the people adding
    ccfl tubes in their headlamps for pseudo-BMW "angel eyes." I believe
    RTV sealant should be sufficient to seal the halves back together.

    It is discouraging that an OEM tail lamp would deteroriate after so
    few years. How does Stanley, the manufacturer of the lamp, generally
    compare to other manufacturers such as Hella and Valeo?

    It looks like I'll go with Eastwood's chrome galvanized aerosol as it
    can withstand temperatures of up to 300 degrees F.

    As an aside, is the reason why we see much less opaque tail lamps
    lenses today because of the switch from painted to vacuum metallized
    reflectors? One example that comes to mind is the difference between
    the tail lamps between a 1996-1998 Honda Civic sedan and a 1999-2000.

    Pictures for reference:



    In any case, thanks again for the help.

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