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Hot to refurbish GVR4 headlights.


Well-known member
Apr 20, 2006
Scottsdale, AZ
I bought a set of 93 headlight from Garfield Wright that were in excellent condition. Thanks GW. The down side was that they were pretty dirty and I wanted them to look better. I was going to just try and clean then up with a shop rag and call it done, but my anal nature (no homo) wouldn’t let me. I basically refurbished my set of headlights to a brand new look with some time, paint, and some basic tools. Here is how I did it. All my tips are in bold letters. As always make sure to read over this whole write up and understand it before attempting.

Before you do anything park the car in a place facing a flat wall about 15 feet away from the wall. You will need to leave the car in the EXACT spot until you are done with this entire project. When it gets dark turn on your lights and mark a reference point. You will need this point so you can adjust the lights correctly when you finish and reinstall them. If you don't do this it will be a pain in the ass to aim your lights

The first few step are to disassemble the different components of the headlights so they can be cleaned. They break down into three basic parts, the light housing itself, the mounting bracket, and the adapters that hold the bracket to the light housing.

The first step is to take out the vertical adjustment screw. You have to squeeze the backside of the plastic mounting tab and gently pull the screw away from the mounting plate and slide it up out of the adjuster. This allows you to access the 10mm bolt behind the screw as well as make it easier to manually back out the vertical adjuster.

Now it is time to separate the mounting plate from the headlight itself. It is attached at 3 points. Two of those points are the adjusters and one is the 10mm bolt behind the screw that was just removed. You will need a 10mm wrench or socket and a 5mm allen wrench. I sprayed a small squirt of lubricant on the plastic holders in order to make the allen screws easier to remove as you can see in the picture.

TIP: Make note of how much of the allen is exposed BEFORE taking them out so when you put the lights back together you will have a baseline adjustment.

Unscrew the allen bolts until the come out of the plastic adjuster mounts. With both adjusters unscrewed and the 10mm bolt removed separate the mounting plate from the headlight. Here are the front and back of the mounting plate.

TIP: Be careful when doing this step as you don't want to break the plastic adjuster mounts. Like your Grandparent they are old and brittle, to much movement will break them.

If the adjusters were broken you will probably end with something like this below. These were from my old headlights. These pictures also show how the adjusters work. They are just a plastic ball in a plastic "cage" that allows them to move on any axis.

Now it is time to take a few parts off the mounting plate. You will need to take off both adjusters and the rubber isolator. The adjusters are just held on by 4 phillips head screws and the isolator just slides off.

TIP: Make sure you use a good screwdriver and use a LOT of pressure to get the screws out. They were stuck pretty well on mine and you DO NOT want to strip them.

I next took apart the adjuster to clean it and paint it. It is just two halves snapped together. Again be careful taking them apart.

That's it for the mounting plate, now it is on the headlight and it's adapters. It is pretty straight forward, you just unscrew the two adapters from the back of the lights. Again, use a good screw driver and some decent force. You will also want to take the plastic adjustment housings off the adapters.

TIP: These next steps REQUIRE you to be VERY gentle while taking off these parts. The next parts to come off can be very brittle and WILL break or crack if you are not careful. You have been warned!!

We now need to take off the light bulb hold downs and vent tubes. For this I used a small pick to make things easy. You will need to align the hold down in a specific manner in order to get them to come off as easy as possible. You will see this in the pictures below. The vent tubes are glued on, but just as the tubes themselves the glue has become brittle and easy to break apart. Take the point of the pick and slide it around the base of the vent tube to break the glue loose. Once that has been done GENTLY pry up moving your way around the base of the tube. If this is done correctly then it should slide right off its mount. If it is not done correctly then the tube will rip or break into small pieces.

This is not aligned correctly.

This one is aligned correctly. When it is aligned correctly gently pull up on the black tab just enough to get it over the ear that holds it on. There are three ears and once you get two of them off the hold down should come right off.

My little pick. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/rofl.gif

Both hold downs taken off the light housing.

TIP:Make sure to note the location and direction of the vent tubes. They need to go back on th same way they came off.

The last step is to remove the clips that hold the glass lens to the plastic backing of the light. Those come off easily with the pick.

Now that everything has been disassembled it is time to clean it all up. To get the remaining black paint off the glass I used a wire wheel. It made quick work of the paint and didn't make much mess. I held it flat to the surface as seen in the picture. The before and after result show how will it worked.

Once the glass has been cleaned by the wire wheel wipe it down with some brake cleaner and check for any missed paint. It is now time to mask off for the new black paint. Some people will only paint tops like the factory did, but I went all the way around for a more uniform look.

If you look down at the edge of the glass you can see "the thickness" of the glass. This is what I used as my reference point to mask the front of the light. For the back I just masked along the mating like for the glass and plastic. Make sure to mask off the backs of the lights so that over spray doesn't get inside the lenses. If it does you will need to bake them in an oven and take the glass off to clean the inside of the lenses.

TIP: Use blue painters tape and TAKE YOUR TIME to get the masking the way you want it. If you don't you will have to scrape off all the black paint and START OVER. The corners can be a pain but be patient and it will come out well done

2ND TIP: Before you paint make sure that all the tapes edges are firmly pressed against the glass. You want nice sharp edges as a finished product and this will help guarantee that you get them.

For the plastic portion off the lights it takes a little trick. First tape over the edges of the bulb sockets AND the vent tubes. Once you have done that press down firmly on the edges of the part being masked and the edge will show through the tape. Take a sharp razor blade and follow the edge that now shows. You will have a perfect outline for painting.

Now you just have to finish masking off everything you don't want black. I used some old junk mail adds I had laying around. As with any taping make sure that no over spray can get anywhere through.

Once that is done it is finally time to paint the headlight. I used the time in between coats of headlight paint to clean up the brackets and mounting plates. I used a CLEAN shop rag and if it was really dirty some brake cleaner. Once they were clean I painted them along with the glass. As I said earlier I also painted the the allen head adjusters and there cases along with the adjustment screw.

For the glass I used 3 coats of black, the mounting plate and adapters received 2 coats, and the rest of the parts received one quick coat.

TIP: Always shake the sh*t out of a new can of spray paint. You also want to spray on a scrap piece before spraying on your final project piece. This will get any crap or globs out of the way first.

2ND TIP: Make sure you have enough paint to do all the parts at once and that the paint is all the same color, shade, and finish. I ran out of black paint after one light and had to do it over again because the new can I bought didn't match the old can. You need will need at least 2 cans of black, 3 is better, and 1 can of gray.

You will need to let the black on the glass dry at least over night so that it has maximum adhesion to the glass. If you don't when you go to mask for the gray it will peal the black off and you will have to start all over again. It is not fun, trust me. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/banghead.gif

While I let all these parts dry I decided to clean up all the screws and headlight tabs with the wire wheel. Just hold them with a pair of needle nose pliers and go to town until they are clean. If you live in a moist climate you will either need to leave them alone or paint them because the rust protection will be removed by the wire wheel.

Once the lights have sufficiently dried then all you have to do is reverse mask them for the gray color, paint them, and let them dry again. Once they have finally dried then reassemble them in the reverse order of disassembly.


Make sure to re-glue the vent tubes back on during re-assembly or they will fall off. A SMALL dab of super glue works well

Pay attention to the orientation of the bulb hold downs when reassembling them. The three tabs all have a specific orientation and must be put back on correctly or they will not lock the bulb down correctly.

Don't forget to reinstall the rubber isolator

That's it./ubbthreads/images/graemlins/applause.gif Now it is time to reinstall your new lights and aim them correctly. Any question or comments let me know.

Here are the final result.
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