Fixing Buffer Haze & Headlight Restoration

Well, I caved. I bought a Miata. After spending so much time with Dan’s I couldn’t help but fall in love with them, especially after being behind the wheel of one. When I met with the previous owner to purchase the car I noticed that it was in great condition besides, of course, the paint. He told me that he had gotten the car detailed and polished before he tried to sell it. Well, whoever put a polisher to this paint did not know what they were doing. This car had the worst buffer haze I had ever seen, and swirls littered the paint. Obviously that wasn’t going to fly with me, so we got to work.

Here’s how she looked before, I let her get extra filthy for dramatic effect.

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The headlights were yellowed as well, so that was added to the “to-do” list.

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We started by giving the wheels, tires, and fender wells a good scrubbing.

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Once they were all done the paint was rinsed thoroughly, and washed with dish soap to strip any waxes or sealants on the paint.

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Dan giving us his “blue steel”.

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In this picture you can see how bad the mirrors were, they were both practically matte from someone getting overzealous with a rotary.

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Followed it up by drying the paint with a microfiber towel, pretty standard so far.

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Before bringing the car in I got a quick picture of just how bad the hood was on the car.

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Yea it was destroyed, and it looked like this all over the car, the swirls were some of the worst I’ve seen. The buffer haze is a little more difficult to spot in this picture, but trust me, it’s there; and there’s a lot of it.

We decided to start with the headlights, so we began masking around them.

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We’re following Larry Kosilla’s method of headlight restoration as outlined in this Drive Clean video.

Started off with a dry 800 grit sandpaper, moving “East-West”.

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We stopped once we had uniform sanding marks, then cleaned it with an IPA mix. Here’s what we were left with.

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We followed with a damp 1000 grit moving “North-South”, and checked our work by turning on the headlight and making sure that our sanding marks were uniform and moving in the “North-South” direction. After cleaning we repeated with a damp 3000 grit pad, and went back to an “East-West” movement.

Once we were done with sanding we switched to a 3″ Microfiber Cutting Pad and our compound.

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Keeping these pads clean is SO important to efficient and effective compounding without scouring, we used compressed air to keep our pads clean for compounding as well as finishing.

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Followed with a 3″ Finishing Pad.

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And here is the freshly restored headlight.

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Much better, now onto the paint. First step, clay bar.

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After that we closed the garage and got our lights close up for a good shot of the swirls.

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Swirls, buffer haze, calcium spots, etched bird poop, and who knows what else. This was supposed to be a freshly polished and detailed car, yet once the fillers were removed all that was left behind was terrible paint. I have no idea who worked on this paint or how much the previous owner paid, but this is not good work.

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Well, it was time to fix a previous detailer’s mistakes and have beautiful paint! We did a test spot and found our pad/polish combinations that worked the best for us, and got started all around the car.

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After compounding, most of the swirls and whatever else was removed, but compound haze was left behind. I tried to get a good picture of the haze but they didn’t turn out too great.

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Excuse the blur, but you can see that most of the defects are removed and all that’s left behind is that slight haze from the compound step.

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We then followed with our finishing pad and polish, switching to our 3″ when need be.

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After that, we put on a good coat of sealant and let it cure overnight.

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The next morning, we started off by cleaning up the interior and the trim, restoring the vinyl top, and polishing the glass.

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Then we added a thin layer of carnauba wax on top and we were done!

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We pulled the car out of the garage and I got a quick picture of the mirror before we went for a drive.

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Much better.

After driving around a bit we found a spot to take pictures. I’ll let them do the talking.

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Finally, I thought I would end with a seriously ridiculous hood picture.

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-Ryan

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