The project Octavia RS came with headlight film which gave the headlights a dark tint. I can see why they did it, mean and moody, but light performance was poor. Removing headlight film/tint, I thought would make the car much nicer to drive at night.

This coupled with the fact that the headlight film had started to change colours along the top edges making it look less than factory fresh, made removing the tint/film look like a definite plus.

How it started. Fading along top edge and visibility at night severely hampered.


Removing Headlight Film – The Methods

I tried a few ways to remove the headlight tint/film. What I wanted to avoid was spending months of my life on the job while I peeled off billions of little fragments.

Steam

I tried the same method as a I used for car badge removal. This was less than good. While it did make the film come off a tiny bit easier, the steam looked like it was cracking/crazing the plastic lenses of the headlights. It wasn’t going to work on these headlights, glass maybe, but not on these.

Razor Blade

I tried with a razor blade, a bit better but would still take some hours to do the job.

Electric Sander (Mouse Style)

I tried with an electric sander and while this definitely sanded the headlights, I wasn’t sure how much I would need to remove to get down to the plastic lense. When the lenses were sanded, they turned frozen white, leaving it impossible to tell if the film had been removed. I didn’t want to do the sanding and then find out later that I hadn’t sanded enough and have to start the process again.

Dremel with Flapper Wheel

I tried a flapper wheel on a Dremel. With this method it was obvious when the headlight film was being removed. It would come of in junks and was quick enough not to take hours. This is what I went with for both headlights.

In hindsight this was a mistake.

The first headlight was not too bad but on the second headlight I used too much pressure and gouged the headlights.

Sanding

After removing the headlight film it was time to move on to the next step.

I sanded down the lenses with 280 grit sandpaper, then 600 grit sandpaper and finished the sanding with 2000 grit sandpaper.

After this I thoroughly clean the lenses and used a two-part clear coat to get the transparency in the lenses back.

Two parts clear coat to one part hardener with 10% thinners.

I ran the spray gun over the lenses around four times (with 5-10 minutes between coats) giving them a decent coat each time. The lenses were left overnight to dry. This was the result.

Minuses

Unfortunately the gouges can be seen on the right headlight.

Pluses

On the plus side, light performance has improved a lot. Now the headlights are useful, and the driver does not have to slow down on unlit roads. Not the best headlights I think from the factory but definitely much better without the headlight film.

After sanding down with 2000 grit sandpaper and 4 costs of clear coat, this is the result. Not perfect but light performance is much better.

Lessons Learned

Sanding

I think using an electric sander instead of the flapper wheel would have been the way to go. It was too easy to put light gouges on the headlights with the flapper wheel. Patience with the sander would have left a perfectly flat surface and if some parts of the lense needed to be re-sanded later I think it would have been worth it.

Light Performance

In this case & in my opinion, the headlight tint reduced headlight performance by an unacceptable amount. With headlight tint, the limiting factor on speed, on unlit roads was the throw of the headlights, now, without the tint, the limiting factor are the corners.

The difference in performance, to use a cliche, is night and day.

And to use a metaphor,

..with headlight tint, it was like wearing sunglasses at night and removing the tint, removed the sunglasses.

Removing Headlight Film – Did It Have to be So Difficult?

I think the problem with removing the tint in this case was because it had been on the car for a long time. I think if headlight tint/headlight film is removed/refreshed every couple of years, I imagine it will probably come off very easily and in one piece.

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