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How to tint your tail lights.

(A big thanks to Slater for this writeup)

Here's the "big secret". Have fun!

That site says to sand off the DOT stuff - I never have. Just clean them real good with dawn, since it removes car wax and grease. Take a toothbrush and get in the crevices and the little DOT stamps and such. Once everyting is clean, dry well. Next get some scorthbrite at the hardware store. I think the green SB. Nothing too abrasive. You just want to scuff the finish up slightly. It doesn't have to be perfect - don't sand the hell out of it. Just enough to take the gloss off. Do it in a circular motion! Don't worry about the DOT stamping - it will be fine. Just scuff it as best as you can. Then clean it again with Dawn or better yet a good paint prep solvent. I used something in a can called "Prep-All" from Kleen Strip. I got it at the Auto Parts store. Make sure there is NO lint, dirt, specs, or dust on the tails!

Then go to a hobby model and RC store and get Tester's brand window tint paint. It's called Pactra Racing Finish, and is for Lexan or polycarbonate RC car bodies, part #RC294. 2 cans will be plenty (they are really small cans), although you will probably only need 1. Also pick up a few cans of the clear coat.

Get a bucket if super hot water. Shake the cans for 2-3 minutes, then put the cans in the bucket of super hot water and let them sit for 2-3 minutes. Then take a can out and shake is again for 2 minutes. Then you are ready to paint. Use LIGHT COATS, and as even as possible. If you do it thick it will run which is bad bad bad. For slightly smoked tails, like some OEM cars like Pontiacs and VWs, you will only need 1-2 light coats. For the blacked-out wifebeater redneck look, you will use 4-5 coats. If I had to put numbers on it, I would say each coat = 10-15% tint.

Once you are all done, let it dry overnight (at least 8-12 hours). The longer the better. I would even recommens 24 hours. Then hit it with an assload of clearcoat. Use as many coats as it takes to get a nice glossy finish. I would HIGHLY recommend taking them to a body shop (any will do) and asking them NICELY to hit them with clear coat. If you do that, just use the window tint and not the testers clear coat - just tint them and take them to the body sho. Tell them you are not in a rush and to just hit them the next time they are painting something with clearcoat (which is every day). Tell them straight up you won't pay more than $10 or $20 MAX and if they say no just laugh and leave and go to another body shop. It will take them 20 extra seconds to hit them with clear that they are spraying anyways. Remind them that there is no prep work involved, nor installation.

The auto body clear coat will hold up WAY better than Tester's clear because it's professional, UV stabilized, and tougher. Make sure they use flex agent in the clear too.

If you use Testors clear coat, keep in mind that the paint is soft and will scratch is abused. Since it's in the back of the car they won't get beat on by sand and gravel from the road, but if you rub golf club bags and grocerys and 2x4s and stuff against them when you are loading your trunk, you will scuff them. Just be careful with them and they will last forever.

I've done this on a number of cars for years now and it works great.

- Slater

P.S. - Another variation on this is to "red out" your tails. Do the same procedure except use Testor's Candy Apple Red Transparent paint (Wal-Mart carries it). It will make the amber section red, which looks way better than amber IMO but not as good as clear. If you do the red, mask off clear stuff like the reverse light, and spray the WHOLE light, not just the amber part. Otherwise, it will not match. When you do the whole light it will all match. You will use 2-3 coats of red to get rid of all of the amber color. Finally, if you do the red, you can NOT do the tint too. Even though it would look nice, it's one or the other, not both. I made that mistake on a car once and I had to sand all of the paint off and redo it.

Finally, one more trick. to get amber lights, like turn signals or fog lights, go to a Michael's craft store and get a can of "yellow stained glass paint". I don't know the brand, but it's basically a yellow transparent paint. I've used it on turn signals and fog lights of previous cars with great success. I was considering doing it to my 850s fog lights since they are useless for fog lights and are for show anyways. A ~$3 cam of paint is cheaper than $40 amber bulbs, and the yellow lenses will look nice even with the fog lights off. Also, sign shops have transparent yellow vinyl available. You would only need 1 square foot to do the fogs. That would work well too and would probably be the most durable from rock chips vs paint.

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