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I followed a procedure to clean up my oxidized headlights similar to that which ChrisFix recommends in his video on the subject.

The last step is to clear coat the headlight with a product like Rust-Oleum American Accents Ultra Cover 2x, which he used in his video and I also used.

My procedure differed slightly in that I had already polished the headlight with McGuire's M100, so it was already clear and I was just adding the clear as anti-UV and yellowing protection. I put two think coats, and after I let it dry for about 40 hours, I looked at it and had some orange peel and running so I decided to add a few more layers then wet sand and polish it.

However, when I went to clean it with IPA prior to adding another coat, the strangest thing happened - when wiping the IPA across the surface with my microfiber towel the towel started sticking, with the fibers leaving an impression! I then felt the light with my hand and noticed that it felt tacky, and that I was even able to jam my fingernail into the clear, which had clearly not hardened.

What the heck is going on? I would think this clear would be completely hardened and sandable even after 24 hours, much less 40 hours in a hot desert environment. How do I deal with this situation?

  • Realistically? Take it all off and start again. Just my suggestion. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Jun 4 '17 at 21:11
  • My guess is that the McGuires M100 left a residue that prevented the clear from curing. – mikes Jun 5 '17 at 2:08
  • @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 It seems to have hardened up at this point; I'm just trying to avoid a repeat of the same problem. – Robert S. Barnes Jun 5 '17 at 7:45
  • @mikes I cleaned the surface with IPA in between polishing with the M100 and spraying the clear coat. – Robert S. Barnes Jun 5 '17 at 7:45
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I think where you went wrong is in how you coated it. It's been awhile since I saw the ChrisFix video, but was thinking the way you should be doing this is by after cleaning the lense with IPA (after using the Meguiar's) ... and really, I'd probably use something like Prep-All here instead of IPA, because I don't think IPA will clean everything off like the Prep-All will ... is to hit the headlight with a very light coat right off the bat, then wait until the first coat is just tacky, then hit it with another coat which is a bit heavier. When the 2nd coat is tacky, hit it one more time with the clear and you should be golden. The idea is to get complete coverage, but do it in lighter coats allowing it a little time to dry in between. By leaving it tacky, it gives the fresh clear something to adhere to. Both the use of the Prep-All and the multi-light coats should make it so the clear won't peal on you.

Since the two coats you had put on there weren't dry (or rather cured) yet, when you soaked it with IPA, this softened it up as the IPA acted as a solvent (which is what you're using it for), which caused your issues ... at least that's my best guess as to what happened.

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