08+ WRX/STI Headlight Split | DIY Painting | Baking

I’ve decided to give my headlights a little facelift by splitting them and painting some of the inside components. The headlights are out of my 2011 WRX and they are already considered “black housing” as opposed to the 2012+ “chrome housing”.

The procedure will be exactly the same for both versions and the splitting technique will be same for both halogens and HID versions of your headlights. The difference will obviously be the harnesses, ballasts, and bulbs. Please use caution when removing the bulbs, as they are sensitive.

For more information on the complete car, visit my build thread (HERE)

Completed procedure:

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Here is a step-by-step image assisted procedure.

Start the procedure by removing your headlight from the car. You will need to remove your front bumper and unplug the main harness to your headlights.
This is the light before:

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Start by removing all the hardware. If you have OEM HID’s your pile of removed parts should look like this:

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After the parts are removed, prepare your oven’s racks so you can fit the light in there BEFORE you turn it on. Once the light fits, turn your oven on to BAKE on 210-220 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes AFTER the oven reaches temperature. I left the lights in during pre-heat so there is less of a shock to the light when adding it at full temp.

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After the 15 minutes, take them out and use a large flat screwdriver to lightly pry the lens from the housing, starting at the tapered corner (the corner closest to the center grill)
You will notice the glue will start to give enough where the pieces start to separate. Should look like this:

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Once you get it started, you’ll need to slowly pull the rest apart by hand. You’ll need to hold the light, release the clasp tabs, and pull apart, all while trying not burn yourself with a 200 degree blob of plastic, lol

Picture of one of the 6 tabs that has to be released to separate the lens:

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Once you get the lens separated for the housing, it will look like this:

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While the glue is still warm, you will need to remove the inner plastic from the lens if you are painting that section. Remove the small 4 small screws that hold it to the lens and separate it. It will look like this:

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I used Rust-Oleum Plastic spray paint in Satin Black to paint this:

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After I painted the inner plastic, I let it air dry for 30 minutes than placed it in the oven at 150 degrees with the door open for 2hrs.

Next up is painting the side reflector. To remove the side marker, you will see 2 screws that hold it in. Once you remove the 2 screws, you will be able to remove the marker and the turn/park housing.

Here is the before and after painting of the side reflector. I painted the backside only with the same plastic paint as I used with the housing. I painted two coats and baked to dry.

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Next will be painting the Park/Turn housing. I wanted to keep the reflectivity of the chrome but dull it down a bit or convert it to a black chrome look. To do this I used Dupli-Color metal cast “shadow”.
I sprayed two very light coats and let dry. Here is the completed look:

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After the Park/Turn housing was done I switched to the high beam housing. For this I used Dupli-Color metal cast “yellow”. I wanted to emulate the look of the yellow bulbs in a chrome housing but without actually having yellow bulbs in there. For this, the easy way is to leave all the components together and tape off the housing. This way you won’t be messing around with the headlights and their alignment. Like the Park/Turn housing, I sprayed two light coats of the metal cast. Once complete, it’ll look like this:

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Now it’s time to let every dry. Overnight would be best if you can keep them in a clean, dust free environment. If not, you can carefully place each of them in the oven to bake. I did one headlight a night so I was able to place the separate items in the oven to dry for 2 hrs each before I assembled them back together.

Once every piece is 100% cured. You will need to re-assemble. To do so, you will have to carefully place the inner lens housing back in the lens and tighten the 4 screws. Next place the park/turn housing back into it’s spot and slide in the painted side reflector. Replace the two screws for them. Clean or blow off any dust that has fallen on the painted surface. It will be your last chance to do so.

Place both halves in the oven set to 200 degrees for 12-15 minutes to get the glue softened again. Once the glue is soft enough to be slightly tacky or gummy, then it’s ready to be married with it’s opposite partner.

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Take both pieces out and place the headlight housing down with the mating surface pointing up. Put the two pieces together, starting with the park/turn side and work your way towards the tapered side (opposite of removal). Once they are mated, squeeze them together and replace the screws that hold them together tightly.
Let them cool off while you are reassembling the lights, harness and brackets.

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If for some reason you notice you missed a spot, see dust, or left something inside like a cookie or screwdriver. You can put them back in the oven and split again.

Once completely cooled, you should try them out and test all your lights BEFORE you put your bumper back on. If they check out okay, re-install your lights, bumper and enjoy your hard work and new lights!

 

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