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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 2007 LE 4x4, 145k. By 2018 (11 years) the OEM headlights were faded yellow and leaking (water intrusion).

I replaced with aftermarket from eBay which looked great at first, but within a year they too leaked.

Fast forward to today and the eBay headlights are faded, yellowing, and cracking (as well as still leaking) and have been for some time.

I've done a fair amount of research on headlight restoration and it seems the yellowing is caused by a breakdown of the UV coating which can be restored by either a UV spray clear or PPF protectant film (after refinishing). I wish I had kept the OEMs because I could probably restore those.

I'm wondering if it is worth getting a new set of OEM (~$600) and the PPF (~$75) on this old truck or if I should try another aftermarket and use RTV silicone to seal them and add the PPF?

Anyone have recommendations for aftermarkets?

I saw a really cool one (includes LED tubes) on Amazon but worry about longevity and don't really want an aftermarket projector housing as I have heard poor reviews.

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2012 Nissan Armada SL
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If you get new headlights, and you want to make sure they don't have a leak, you have to reinforce the factory sealant with additional sealant. I also recommend drilling some strategic holes to reduce condensation.


If you keep and restore the old ones I recommend this kit:


After you restore (or buy new) you have 2 ways to keep them from fading again:

1. The annual method, which probably requires a repeat "light" sanding:


2. The decade method:


I wouldn't recommend pre-cut headlight film for our headlights (see thread above):
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Awesome - thanks for the reply! I should have searched better ;)

I was thinking about this more last night. Whereas I am always a fan of OEM (where the product is better - unlike front shocks) but $600 is a lot of money to spend on my old truck. I can buy the aftermarket headlights and still have enough $$ left over to replace them 4 times (assuming I have the truck that long).

I have also been going back and forth between the PPF and spray clear (specifically the 2k clear which is recommended). That particular PPF you linked had mixed reviews and I was debating on getting the pre-cut from Xpel or WeatherTech but I am glad you advised against it.

The other advantage to the spray clear as I'm less apt to mess it up :sneaky:
A few questions:

1) I noticed in that thread that your film appeared to have streaks vs. the poster who did the clear coat. Did those disappear?

2) Any issues with drilling the holes like water getting in them when driving through puddles/washing?

3) Is butyl rubber preferred over RTV Silicon for sealing?

Ps, I really want to get these lights with the sequential turn signal/DLR bar but I am concerned about durability:


 

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1) I noticed in that thread that your film appeared to have streaks vs. the poster who did the clear coat. Did those disappear?
My headlights had an odd film on them that I suspect is the OEM UV coating that wore off in places. To get it off I used an initial grit of sandpaper that was a bit too aggressive otherwise, and no amount of finer grit sanding could remove the deeper ruts. I was able to mitigate it somewhat with the Clear Coat spray, but if you get too close you'll see the scratches. It's nowhere bad enough to drop $300 for replacements.

My headlights currently only have the clearcoat. I put film on my mom's new headlights for her 2003 Lexus RX 300, and I plan to eventually do that with the Armada, after another sanding and clear coating (annual).

2) Any issues with drilling the holes like water getting in them when driving through puddles/washing?
I haven't had issues, but I made sure to locate them in areas that would be hard to get into.

3) Is butyl rubber preferred over RTV Silicon for sealing?
To me extra butyl is overkill if you are just covering the existing butyl with another layer. I find silicone to be acceptable in that situation. Basically, it's down to personal preference as far as I'm concerned.
 

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You can’t just drill holes in the headlight housing to reduce or eliminate condensation buildup. You’ll need to use patches like these from TRS:

When I redid the retrofitted headlights on my 04 way back when, I made sure I had installed these on the backside of the headlight housing. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do by letting heat out and keeping moisture from entering in.
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
My headlights had an odd film on them that I suspect is the OEM UV coating that wore off in places. To get it off I used an initial grit of sandpaper that was a bit too aggressive otherwise, and no amount of finer grit sanding could remove the deeper ruts. I was able to mitigate it somewhat with the Clear Coat spray, but if you get too close you'll see the scratches. It's nowhere bad enough to drop $300 for replacements.

My headlights currently only have the clearcoat. I put film on my mom's new headlights for her 2003 Lexus RX 300, and I plan to eventually do that with the Armada, after another sanding and clear coating (annual).



I haven't had issues, but I made sure to locate them in areas that would be hard to get into.



To me extra butyl is overkill if you are just covering the existing butyl with another layer. I find silicone to be acceptable in that situation. Basically, it's down to personal preference as far as I'm concerned.
Thanks for the info - very helpful.

You can’t just drill holes in the headlight housing to reduce or eliminate condensation buildup. You’ll need to use patches like these from TRS:

When I redid the retrofitted headlights on my 04 way back when, I made sure I had installed these on the backside of the headlight housing. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do by letting heat out and keeping moisture from entering in.
Hey Primo - I did not even know these existed - thank you.

So you recommend only the back side? Not the bottom?

How many holes would you recommend?
 

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I'm not going to contradict primoV8 as I'm sure using these grommets is the best option.

That said, drilling small vent holes in my headlights has taken care of MY condensation issues to MY satisfaction.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm not going to contradict primoV8 as I'm sure using these grommets is the best option.

That said, drilling small vent holes in my headlights has taken care of MY condensation issues to MY satisfaction.
Same idea, what Primo linked is a breathable patch which keeps water from getting in but lets condensation get out.

These are put on the drilled holes as a sort of one-way valve.
 

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Hey Primo - I did not even know these existed - thank you.

So you recommend only the back side? Not the bottom?

How many holes would you recommend?
TRS actually has another and much better option but it does require opening up the headlights. At that point, you might as well retrofit actual D2S or LED projectors and have the best lighting option.

I had (2) on each headlight; one near the side lens location and the other by the retrofitted projector. Two is more than enough, especially on a stock setup. Retrofitters I knew back then always told me to keep these on the backside because it lessens the chance of water intrusion.

I also forgot to add, here’s a great way clean and remove condensation before resealing the headlights.
With the headlight off the truck wash the inside of the headlight with a solution of water and Cascade.
Rinse, drain and let the headlight air dry. Afterwards, throw in a handful of those gel silica packets and put the headlights in a box for a day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the input. I saw the breather "plugs" I think you are referencing.

Unfortunately these headlights are beyond repair - the poly is cracked from the inside as well.

I am hoping that new aftermarkets with a PPF coating, RTV sealant, and those breather patches will last.
 

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Ps, I really want to get these lights with the sequential turn signal/DLR bar but I am concerned about durability:


I've had these on my '04 LE for over a year now. Good price, easy install, I think they look great! When it rains here in south Texas, it is no joke, like the heavens opened up and let loose, no leaking yet. You can also wire them for the cool stuff, which I haven't done. My originals could no longer be polished out. Passenger was ok, but drivers was beyond repair. These seemed to be the best option.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I've had these on my '04 LE for over a year now. Good price, easy install, I think they look great! When it rains here in south Texas, it is no joke, like the heavens opened up and let loose, no leaking yet. You can also wire them for the cool stuff, which I haven't done. My originals could no longer be polished out. Passenger was ok, but drivers was beyond repair. These seemed to be the best option.
Thanks for the recommendation! How do you find the light output with the projectors? I keep reading it is far worse than OEM projectors or reflectors.

I really like the one I linked above (I'm a sucker for the LED "C" and progressive signal) but I'm thinking best bet is to stay with a reflector (I run HIDs and have been happy with the output).
 

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Thanks for the recommendation! How do you find the light output with the projectors? I keep reading it is far worse than OEM projectors or reflectors.

I really like the one I linked above (I'm a sucker for the LED "C" and progressive signal) but I'm thinking best bet is to stay with a reflector (I run HIDs and have been happy with the output).
I think they are just fine, better actually. Haven't done a lumens test but seat of the pants says its equal or better. I also bought a set of these at the same time. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N2T1MDJ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I would also suggest you get a few of the grill clamps as most of mine were brittle and snapped, so I zip-tied it in place 'til the new ones arrived....DOH!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I think they are just fine, better actually. Haven't done a lumens test but seat of the pants says its equal or better. I also bought a set of these at the same time. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N2T1MDJ/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

I would also suggest you get a few of the grill clamps as most of mine were brittle and snapped, so I zip-tied it in place 'til the new ones arrived....DOH!
Thanks again and great idea regarding the clips! I'll have to see if I can find some on Amazon as at this age, any plastic clips on my truck tend to disintegrate.
 

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can't speak to specific lenses, but one suggestion i always give and follow is to do a ceramic coat on the brand new headlights before they start fading and reapply every few years. the lenses on my 98 frontier are still crystal clear (used to use nufinish before ceramic) In the Florida sun + heavy storms headlights here without protection just start to glaze in a few years and without protection 5-7 year old cars start to look like french imports (until recently france required yellow tinted headlights for a car to be road legal) I use cerakote ceramic glass coat, pretty cheap and you have enough to do the windshield, headlights and other glass if desired. its basically longer lasting rainX on the windshield
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
can't speak to specific lenses, but one suggestion i always give and follow is to do a ceramic coat on the brand new headlights before they start fading and reapply every few years. the lenses on my 98 frontier are still crystal clear (used to use nufinish before ceramic) In the Florida sun + heavy storms headlights here without protection just start to glaze in a few years and without protection 5-7 year old cars start to look like french imports (until recently france required yellow tinted headlights for a car to be road legal) I use cerakote ceramic glass coat, pretty cheap and you have enough to do the windshield, headlights and other glass if desired. its basically longer lasting rainX on the windshield
Great idea - thank you.

I have done a lot of research and it seems the yellowing/cracking is caused by sun exposure and "sand blasting" / breakdown of the UV coating from normal road use.

As these will be aftermarket, I expect the UV coating to be poor or non existent.

That said, my research has yielded that UV does minimal damage in the absence of oxygen (meaning lack of oxygen due to a PPF coating).

So with that said I was leaning towards the more difficult PPF but ceramic is another option.

I can see ceramic working with OEM headlights, but I wonder how effective it would be with aftermarket knockoffs? I can also put it on top of the PPF but if I put it on the headlight directly the PPF would have a difficult (or impossible) time adhering.

I am also finding it difficult to find a quality by the foot PPF....and I'm afraid I will mess it up ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Well I finally got around to installing the headlights - looks like a new truck!

Before I installed, I:

1) Wrapped with clear PPF to hopefully prevent fading
2) Used clear RTV silicone sealant around the housing where the lens meets the housing to prevent water intrusion
3) Ceramic coated in an effort to add additional protection against fading

The headlights actually had vent patches on them (like my old ones) so I decided not to drill more holes and use the patches I got.

There are some good videos online on how to replace the headlights (Vid 1, Vid 2, Vid 3 - this misses 1 of 4 bolts which attach to the fender). I ordered some grill clips but didn't end up needing them as my existing were not broken.

This was the first time I did PPF on a head light and man was it a serious PITA. It's not perfect but not too bad for my first time as long as you are a couple feet away lol.

The clips that hold the trim piece below the headlight were busted from the last time and they don't seem to sell replacements unless you get the entire piece (which comes unpainted). Instead, I used 3M Windo-Weld which I have used for numerous areas where clips are broken. It's super sticky and gummy and does not ever wear away.

Anyway, I know these aftermarket headlights are not made so great, but I am really hoping that they last with the preventative measures. They are the same exact housing as the previous faded ones so not terribly confident.

Edited to add: I was back and forth between these black housing lamps vs. the OEM (replica) chrome. In person, there is no comparison - these look WAY cooler and give the truck a more aggressive look.

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