Cleaning inside of tail lights?

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Thread: Cleaning inside of tail lights?

  1. #1
    Shawndude
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    Cleaning inside of tail lights?

    Inside of my tailights got all dirty with dust somehow. So I tried washing it out, and apart from flooding my trunk, it accomplished nothing.

    There is a frosted piece, between the outside red reflector and the bulbs. The dirt is on the inside the red reflector plastic.

    Any way to clean this, without taking off the tail lights? I used silicone goop to seal them, so they wouldn't leak, and don't feel like taking them off, as it is probably pretty much stuck on there.

    Thank you for any input....Shawn.

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  3. #2
    SupraForums Member
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    Try the Detailing forum. There are some good guys in there.

  4. #3
    V A S U P R A S a70's Avatar
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    do you have the early or late taillights?

    The inside are very different, i have broken one of each open so thats how i know.

    the 87 88 style have a plastic sheet which acts as a reflector while the 89 90 taillights have the reflector grid formed into the red part of the lens.

  5. #4
    JZ Enthusiast bahraini_zupra's Avatar
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    So how do you guys clean it !? broken the plastic ! lol

  6. #5
    Shawndude
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    I have 89+ tail lights.

    I may take one off, and hopefully notice how one could clean the other one without removing it.

  7. #6
    SkaterX
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    Shawndude... when i changed my tail lights over i sprayed the inside of them with ZEP compressed electronic cleaner... this stuff does not melt plastic (or anthing!!!) and leaves next to no residue.... and its safe to spray on electronic components.... It comes in a red and white can... about 6 buks a can!!!... can get at a local zep dealer.
    regards
    wayne

  8. #7
    SkaterX
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    Sorry.... that stuff is called ID-RED and you can get it at ZEP... : )

  9. #8
    Eric Barnett
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    i took my tails off (89+ style) and ran water and cleaner through them.I had mold because the seals leak . It was pretty gross.

    Eric

  10. #9
    xsb00st
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    At least you got the mold out....less weight mean better power to weight ratio

  11. #10
    Shawndude
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    Bah!

    So I remove one tail light, which was actually fairly easy, since I put little bit of grease between the silicone goop and the gasket when I mounted it.

    Anyway, so I'm washing the tail light in a sink sloshing water inside of it, and the dirt is totally unreachable, between the frosted panel and the outside red one. The frosted panel has bazzilion little ridges in it, holding the dirt like it's glued on.

    I used:

    Dish soap.
    Silicone/wax remover
    Plastics cleaner (2 different types)
    Electronics cleaner
    Compressed air

    There is just no way in hell, to get at it. I also drilled some small holes from behind, but that helped nothing.

    So I try to remove the frosted pieces, only to break the bloody things from the turn signal and backup light areas.

    Looks like crap now when light shines through it, but at least there is no dirt there now. Still dirt in the brake light area.

    Maybe it's mold, I don't know. Will try using mold remover liquid next, if it doesn't screw up the plastic (I check on a small piece first).

    Grumpy, ugly ass tail light dude.............Shawn.

  12. #11
    newstarr3
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    "Shawndude" do you have a drivers side 89+ tail light asembly for sale? also clean out your pm box.
    James

  13. #12
    Shawndude
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    Originally posted by newstarr3
    "Shawndude" do you have a drivers side 89+ tail light asembly for sale? also clean out your pm box.
    James
    Sorry I do not. I have four pre 89 tail lights though.

    My PM box is fairly clean. SupraForums are just screwed, as I can't PM anyone else either.

  14. #13
    Shawndude
    Guest
    Success!

    It was mold/mildew in my tail lights after all.

    I used 'Tilex' midlew remover (like used on bathtubs), and the tail light is as good as new.

    It doesn't effect the plastic, and works great.


    I wish I knew this before I broke the frosted pieces. Oh well, at least I can clean the other tail light without braking anything.



    Cheers......Shawn.

  15. #14
    Eric Barnett
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    glad to hear it worked out for you.The mold in my tails were nasty. It covered about the bottom 1/3rd of the light. off topic but how are the radios doing?

    Eric

  16. #15
    Shawndude
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    Originally posted by funkbomb1987
    .... off topic but how are the radios doing?
    Eric
    Going fairly well, at least I didn't break anything yet. I was relieved the units I received didn't have security codes set, so the radios work.

    I took the radios apart (step 1 always ), but I need more buttons to controll my computer. I made a "wish list" of commands/buttons, and may be hitting a junkyard soon, to get more goodies.

    Cheers.....Shawn.

  17. #16
    SupraForums Member 91T4's Avatar
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    I have seen some pre-89's with the inner frosting removed, and they look really nice...looks bright and clean, not dull... Can the post-89's have the same thing done to them and look nice?

  18. #17
    Shawndude
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    Originally posted by 91T4
    I have seen some pre-89's with the inner frosting removed, and they look really nice...looks bright and clean, not dull... Can the post-89's have the same thing done to them and look nice?
    The lights do not look very good without the frosted lenses. I broke mine (as described above), and the light doesn't difuse nicely without them.

    However you can remove the amber turn signal plastic lenses. It makes the turn signal area look whiter when off, and looks equally as nice as stock with the turn signal flashing.

    Once you remove the amber lens use a light bulb, that comes in orange tint (Stock light bulb is:1156, amber light bulb is: 1156NA).

    Best part is, it is fully reversible, so you can always put it back to stock.


    One thing I'm almost finished doing and haven't heard of before, is modifying the center plastic piece between the tail lights (around the license plate). It is the same red plastic as the tail lights, but the inside of it is painted silver, so it doesn't match very well as it is lot brighter.

    You can see the difference in color of the stock lights, in this rather crappy picture:


    I've removed most of the silver paint, and it looks like it will match the tail lights much more closely. I tried many methods to remove the paint without harming the plastic, and I finally ended up sandblasting it off with glass bead. I ran out of glass bead, so I can't finish it untill tomorow.

    Apart from that I'm not sure what you can do. I think the 89+ lights look awesome as they are.

    Cheers.....Shawn.

  19. #18
    JZ Enthusiast bahraini_zupra's Avatar
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    hay does anyone have a pic for this lights after removing the white plastic ( brighter )!? please want night pic or something .

  20. #19
    Shawndude
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    Originally posted by SUPRA_NO1
    hay does anyone have a pic for this lights after removing the white plastic ( brighter )!? please want night pic or something .
    I don't have a picture, but I can tell you it looks pretty crappy. It looks like lightbulbs behind a piece of plastic (doh ) since you have major bright spots, and the rest is pretty dim. The stock frosted plastic does a nice job of creating even illumination.

    If you would like you tail lights brighter, here are 3 suggestions:

    1) Clean the tail lights from the inside as it makes a huge difference. Obviously I don't know how dirty yours are, but if they are even a bit dirty, it will help.

    2) Replace your lightbulbs. Old lightbulbs are a lot dimmer than newer ones. A quick check is have a look at the light bulb glass, and if it has a dark blakish tint to the glass, then replacing it should help.

    3) Use white paint, and paint the dark plastic on the inside of the tail lights. It helps to reflect more of the light. I just did one tail light, so I could compare it to the other one, and it made an impressive improvement on its own.

  21. #20
    Madd Tyte JDM yo flubyux2's Avatar
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    hey, on my RX7, the lights were held together w/ hot glue, and so were the lights on my DSM...

    all you have to do is either get a big pot of water and get it up to about a slow boil, or just a little less than that, and itll soften it right up in just a minute. then get a putty scraper and try to pry the 2 halves together.

    on my DSM, there is a separate Orange reflector for the cornermarker... and its just held in w/ a dab of hot glue, it pulled right out and made 100% custom/one-off clear corners for my DSM, and inserted some Green wedge bulbes.. its the only Bling item on the car, in the daytime, its a pretty clean appearnce considering all the front lenses are clear now.

    for the Rears on a MK3, im not sure if they have like silicone sealer or hot glue. the hot glue is reusable, just heat it up and clamp the 2 halves back together. if its silicone, obviously you have to scrape the old crap out and put new stuff in, but it wont be as easy to take apart like the hot glue is.

    On the MA71 tails, id rather get rid of the orange lense inside, and use Hyperwhite bulbs.... cuz the law stipulates that all turnsignals must be white or amber in color... no ricey red, greeen, blue, or purple lights... auxillary lights are ok to be diff colors, but not red or blue... since those are reserved for law enforcment... and beleive you me, you dont wanna go down for impersonating a copper.

    have you ever seen the plastic finishing compounds and polishes?? im thinking, itd be kinda cool to sand down the reflector matrix on the inside of the 3-pc lights, and polish it so its just a crystal clear red lense... well, you have to maintain a 1"x1" red reflector to conform to the DOT regulations, but the rest can be sanded down smooth and polished w/ a nice compound... better than altezza's and more custom than a 3pc conversion or JDM lights

  22. #21
    Shawndude
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    Update on the silver paint removal, of the center piece on the 89+ lights.

    I finished, and it matches the tail lights color exactly now. I've only seen it in the shop (floresent lights), hopefully it will look just as good in the daylight as well.

    Cheers....Shawn.

  23. #22
    V A S U P R A S a70's Avatar
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    you cannot "de-frost" the 89+ lenses to make them clear. The 87 88 style have little deflector sheets which spread the leight out laying on top of the red lense. On the 1990 talight that i borke open, the defector was printed into the red plastic, this making it impossible to remove.

  24. #23
    Shawndude
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    Originally posted by a70
    you cannot "de-frost" the 89+ lenses to make them clear. The 87 88 style have little deflector sheets which spread the leight out laying on top of the red lense. On the 1990 talight that i borke open, the defector was printed into the red plastic, this making it impossible to remove.
    Hmm, my 89+ lights have the "little deflector sheets". All portions of it, brake, backup and turn signal lights.

    The red plastic has bazzilion little dimples in it on the inside, and so do the other areas. Is that what you're describing?

  25. #24
    Rage Your Dream... Mikado's Avatar
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    Flubyux - I don't know the laws in Florida, but everywhere *I'VE* been says signals must be either RED or AMBER. Hence the lack of vehicles with stock white signals.

  26. #25
    SupraForums Member blackout_89t's Avatar
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    *resurect*

    Shawndude your the man! I was trying to clean the damn tail lights for 4 hours! Flooding them with water, spraying them with all kinds of shit, and no luck. So i bought some Tilex Mildew remover and BINGO, worked like a charm! A few sprays and instantly cleaned it all up.

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