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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Well today I tinted my tail lights and decided to make a how to out of it! I am not responsible for any damages done to the tail lights themselves nor do I recommend doing this in states where it is illegal.

First off you need a few things before we get right into tinting your tail lights!
800 grit automotive sand paper
2000 grit automotive sand paper
Automotive tint (I used VHT nite-shades)
Auto clear coat or UV resistant clear coat
Rubbing compound
Headlight restoration compound
A couple buckets of water: You'll need this for your sand paper and a couple rags for cleaning
A couple rags for buffing and drying
Masking tape
Newspaper (only if doing third break light as well)
Optional: Rubber gloves (for those who don't wanna get a little dirty)
Also optional a buffing wheel (it'd make it easier but not necessary)


1.Once you have everything assemble and in place get your 800 grit sand paper and 2000 grit sand paper and throw it in a bucket of water like shown below. In most cases it'll curl up, but that's okay. You want to do this first so it can soak and be more malleable for the sanding.


2.Once you've put the sand paper in the bucket you go ahead and take out your brake lights. On the inside of your trunk you'll see three little knob like things behind your two individual break lights. (At least for my 300m I don't know about 1st gen or 2nd gen intrepids) Just unscrew these and your brake lights should slide right out. Unplug the cable connecting your brake lights to your car itself. DO NOT UNPLUG ANY OF THE BULBS IT ISN'T NECESSARY
In the corner behind the brake light itself is where they are located


3.Once off use one of your buckets of water and a rag to clean off the brake light and it should resemble something light this


This is where we get into the actual work. The backside of your brake light will be in most cases really dirty and it's harder then hell to clean so I just dealt with it. All that matters is that the front is clean.

4. Take your 800 grit sandpaper and scrub the heck out of the thing. You'll feel like you're doing something bad, but it's just part of the process. It should resemble this as you are scrubbing


5. Take a wet rag and clean it off (you don't exactly have to, but I wanted to see what it looked like afterwards)

6. Then take your 2000 grit sandpaper and scrub it even more. This is a finer grit that will make it more smooth then the 800. Clean it off with a rag once more afterwards.


7. (OPTIONAL, BUT RECOMMENDED, Tape off the reverse light side of the actual light. This will make it so you can still see at night when reversing more then it would if it were tinted.


8. After it is all taped off to your liking its time to spray tint. I personally recommend spraying from about 10 inches away. I you get to close it'll build up too much and drip down causing it to look gross. IT WON'T ALWAYS BE PERFECT. It's hard to get it perfectly even, just do it to your liking. Nobody is going to speculate and inspect your tail lights that much.


9. Repeat step 8 until you get your satisfied level of tint, WAIT A MINIMUM OF 20 MINUTES BETWEEN COATS If you don't you are more likely to get drips and it makes you mad! I personally only did 2 and I'd say 1/2 coats before it got too dark for my liking.




FOR THIRD BREAK LIGHT ONLY
10. While waiting for that to dry you might as well do your third break light as well! The 300m's third brake light is a little tiny thing and annoying to take out so I just taped it off with newspapers and used some painters tape to do so.


11. Repeat 3-8 for your third break light


Back to the main show!
12.Now that your tint on your tail lights is done it's time for some clear coat. Take off your masking/painters tape from the brake light. Give each coat of clear coat about 15 minutes to dry. I personally recommend at least 3 coats of clear coat. I did 5, some people even do up to 13 x.x
Don't forget your third brake light either!

Before clear coat:


After clear coat and tape removal:


13. After all the clear coat is on and dried it's time to resand once again! It sounds very counter productive, but this is so you can restore them to their former smoothness!
Take your 800 grit that's in the water and scrub the heck out of it and the same with the 2000 grit. After you do this wash them off with a rag once again.
Comparison between unscrubbed and scrubbed

After both scrubbed and washed off


14.Now that you've finished resanding your tail lights it's time to restore them. Take your rubbing compound and a rag (or your buffer) and buff the rubbing compound into it. You'll see it shine right on up! This stuff won't hurt it if there is too much so don't be stingy.


Also on the third break light:


15. Now take your headlight restoration compound and scrub it even more with another rag. I used PlastX (it was the cheapest at O'Reilly's, but worked marvels)
It should look like this in comparison to and unrestored tinted tail light


16. After applying those two compounds to them you are ready to go and reinstall them to your car. Just replug the cord back into the brake light and push it back into place. Retighten those three knobs back onto the tail light inside the trunk itself.
In the end it should look relatively like this! (Sorry for dirty car, I live in rural Illinois)


FIN: Your car now has a new flare to it! This mod adds a nice new tone of color to your car as well as doesn't make your break lights invisible to see!


I hope you liked this How-To if you have any suggestions feel free to post a response.
 

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Looks like a great how-to! Nice photos of all the steps.

I wonder - does the headlight restorer really do anything since it is on clear coat paint, and not on the plastic directly? I assume it would depend on if it is a uber fine polish, or a chemical stripper?

I am on the fence on shading my tails - my car is red, my tails are red - no reason to shade them to match be body. heheheh
 

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looks great....great write up! working in a collision/autobody repair shop I concur with all your steps! I personally used a red scotchbrite pad to scuff my tail lights and 3M prepsol to clean them....but thats what we had at the shop....the wet sanding would probably do a better job....
 

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Discussion Starter #5
looks great....great write up! working in a collision/autobody repair shop I concur with all your steps! I personally used a red scotchbrite pad to scuff my tail lights and 3M prepsol to clean them....but thats what we had at the shop....the wet sanding would probably do a better job....
Yeah there is an array of things you could possibly use! These are just what I had at hand and it worked out fantastic! Some people even don't restore them after clear coat. It doesn't look bad just not as good as after they have been restored
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Update:
I wish it would have lasted longer, but it has seemed to fade quite a bit. It was still worth it for the time taken to do it I suppose. I still recommend it, but quite possibly need to find another alternative with a tint wrap or something to that effect. I might just redo it once again one of these next few days. I still haven't finished off that one can I have so I might as well do that.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I am testing whether the actual restoration at the end makes them last longer by not restoring them and just leaving them as they are after the clear coat (partially from laziness) I also put thicker coats as well as more clear coat. So we will see from there!
 

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i did a set by mixing black paint with clear and shooting them. little wet sanding and buffing, came out shiny and lasted a while
 

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at the body shop we always use black tint base and clear to spray the tail lights/head lights....it doesn't fade and if u spray a few coats of just clear over the tinted clear you can wetsand any scratches, hazing, etc.....we found the NITESHADES does tend to fade out from direct sunlight after awhile...so if your car sits outside it doesn't seem to take long and its not as dark....after a few complaints we just went to the tinted clear method...no fading, no complaints....
 

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Discussion Starter #13
at the body shop we always use black tint base and clear to spray the tail lights/head lights....it doesn't fade and if u spray a few coats of just clear over the tinted clear you can wetsand any scratches, hazing, etc.....we found the NITESHADES does tend to fade out from direct sunlight after awhile...so if your car sits outside it doesn't seem to take long and its not as dark....after a few complaints we just went to the tinted clear method...no fading, no complaints....
The problem with my car is I wash it at least 1-2 times a week and I slowly wash off what is on there. I think possibly a heat wrapped vinyl tint might be a more permanent solution.
 

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The problem with my car is I wash it at least 1-2 times a week and I slowly wash off what is on there. I think possibly a heat wrapped vinyl tint might be a more permanent solution.
Mine gets washed at least that many times a week as well. I saw it slowly wash away day by day. There has to be a longer lasting solution.
 

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Not bad, thanks for sharing your documentation. But just a question isn't it in other stated they are banning tail light tinting?
 
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