Do-It-Yourself Clear 03-05 Cavalier Headlights

 

These are instructions for removing the orange reflector from the side of a stock 03-05 headlight.† There are a few different methods that people use to do this, all focusing on the removal of the plastic front of the headlight housing.† The most common is ďbakingĒ.† This is the method that will be covered here as it seems to have a very high success rate.

 

DISCLAIMER: I am not responsible for any personal loss, financial loss, lost pets, bodily injury or legal issues that may result in your use of these instructions.† These are presented only as a guideline of what others and I have done and are not intended to cover all possible situations that may arise.†

 

Step 1: Removal

While it might seem pretty obvious to some people, I still thought I should add this step.

 

Tools Required: 13mm Wrench or Socket, Pliers, Flathead Screw Driver

 

a. Radiator Cover Removal

The cover needs to be removed so that you can reach the inner headlight bolts.† To do so, remove the 6 retaining clips as shown below

 

The clips are removed by pressing down on the outside and pulling the center pin upward.† I have found that the easiest way to do this is with a flathead screwdriver and a pair of pliers.

1. Use the screw driver to pry up the center pin so you can grab it with the pliers

2. Press down on the clip and pull the pin upward with the pliers

3. Once the center pin is up, you can slide the clip out. You may need to pry it slightly with the screw driver.† Try to not break the sides of the clip.

4. After all of the clips are removed, simply lift the cover out.† It is only tucked under the fenders so it should come right out.

 

b. Headlight Removal

The headlight is attached by 2 bolts, a clip and your wiring harness.

1. Start by removing the 2 13mm bolts from the top of the headlight.

The clip is on the lower back of the housing.

Most of the time you can slowly pull the housing forward and it will pull free.† If the clip is not releasing, you may need to press in one side with a screw driver to release it.† If you break the clip, you will need to either fix or replace it.† Otherwise your housing will tend to bounce when you drive and could break the top mounting tabs.

2. Unhook the wiring harness from the housing.

Be careful not to break the blue clip when removing it. The other 2 wires just turn and pull out.

Once the harness is disconnected, your headlight is free for you to take inside where it is warm (It was just starting to snow when I did this) Tip: place the headlight bolts back in the holes so you donít lose them

 

Step 2: Baking

This is the fun part; this will soften the adhesive used to hold the front of the housing on.

 

Tools Required: Oven, Cookie Sheet and Gloves

 

1. Prepare oven by preheating to 200-350 degrees (you can start low, if that temp doesnít work, try again at a slightly higher temp)

2. Place lowest rack in oven, and place cookie sheet face down on rack (just makes it easier)

 

3. Remove all extra caps, bulbs etc as shown below. Donít forget the rubber drain tubes.

 

You cannot remove the Internal Headlight wire, just tuck it away.

 

4. Place Headlight housing in the preheated oven for ~12min (with the door closed of course) If your headlights are held together by JB weld like mine were, the oven will make the weld brittleÖ oops lol

 

Step 3: Disassembly

This it the hardest part of the entire process, removing the front of the headlight housing and disassembling it.

 

Tools Required: Gloves, 2 Flathead Screw Drivers, 7/32 socket/ratchet, Stanly Knife (optional) and Dremel tool (optional)

 

Remove the housing from the oven. DO NOT BURN YOURSELF. USE THE GLOVES! (No not thin wimpy gloves either)

 

a. Housing Front Removal

1. Use the screw drivers to work your way around the outside of the housing, prying it apart as you go.† DO IT SLOWLY, it will separate.† I found that the best place to start is on the side with the orange reflector.

2. Push the screw drive in as far as you can into the groove of the black housing, then pry the front forward.

You can also use a Stanly Knife or Razor Blade to help cut the seal instead of just pulling it all apart..† I found that this helps some but is not required.

 

Be careful of the tabs, while I donít think they are needed, they make it a little easier to reassemble.

 

3. Once the Front is removed, separate the 3 pieces and onto the next step.

 

b. Reflector Removal

1. Use the 7/32 socket to remove the 2 screws from the reflector.

 

2. Push the tabs through the holes to remove the side reflector.

 

c. Cleaning the Seal

Remove what is left of the seal on the 3 pieces. (this can be done at any point from the time you take the housing apart till you put it back together) the more old seal you remove, the better the new seal will hold.

 

I found that the best way to do this (for me) was to remove as much as I could with a screw driver, then use a Dremel tool at ~7,000 rpm with the wire brush attachment

This makes a little mess, but it cleans it good without eating into the plastic.

 

Step 3: Clear Reflectors (Optional)

A LOT of people have asked me how to do the clear reflectors to replace the orange reflectors on the stock housing.† This may not be the best way or best material to use.† Most people have skipped this step and just reassembled the headlight housing.

 

Tools Required: Gloves, Heat Gun (Not a hair dryer) and Dremel Tool

Material Required: Acrylic or Styrene Clear sheet (drop ceiling light panels)

I recommend the Acrylic diamond pattern as it seems to look good and be fairly thick and easy to work with.

 

a. Round Reflector

1. First, warm up the heat gun, youíll need it a lot

 

2. Cut a piece of your material that is larger than the size of the round reflector.† I used a dremel with a reinforced cutoff wheel at about 9,000rpm

 

3. Place the material on top of the round reflector textured side down and heat with the heat gun.† Slowly mold the reflector to the curved shape of the reflector. DO NOT MELT THE MATERIAL; Heat it till it becomes pliable.

 

4. Once formed, remove from heat and allow to cool.

 

5. Mark the diameter of the reflector (slightly larger is helpful) and add spots for 2 or 3 mounting tabs

 

6. Use the dremel to cut out the shape you just marked

 

From this point there are 2 ways you can go, either mount the new reflector to the middle housing, or to the stock location of the OEM reflector.

 

OPTION 1: To mount to the middle housing place the reflector on the inside of the middle housing, and then heat the tabs till they can be bent down to the housing as shown below.

Secure with either tape or epoxy.

If you use Epoxy, rough the area on the housing and the reflector.

This will provide a nice clean install with no gap between the reflector and the housing.

 

OPTION 2: To mount to the OEM location, bend your tabs the opposite direction. Then bend them outward to allow for mounting.† You will need to trim, bend and rebend the tabs to get them correct.† I found this to be a PITA so I just mounted them to the middle housing.

Once you have it where you want it, secure with epoxy or drill holes and use the stock screws. Once your material cools it is very BRITTLE so there is a good chance your tabs will break when you try to secure them or drill the holes.

A problem with the stock location is that you have a higher chance of a gap between the reflector and the middle housing as seen in the below picture.

 

b. Side Reflector

1. First, warm up the heat gun, youíll need it a lot

 

2. Cut a piece of your material that is larger than the size of the side reflector.† I used a dremel with a reinforced cutoff wheel at about 9,000rpm as shown below.

 

3. Use the heat gun to mold the material to the shape of the reflector (I used a clamp to help prevent it sliding around)

 

4. Wrap the curved edge back so you donít see the edge in the housing. Trim the sides

5. Trim the sides so that they are level with the sides of the reflector, donít clip the tabs, you can use them to mount the reflector.

TIP: Donít get the material too close to the heat gun, or youíll get some little bubbles like I did, oops!

 

Below are some pictures of reflectors

(the edge on the above is not wrapped back, you can see how the unwrapped edge looks)

 

Step 4: Reassembly

Time to put it all back together. If you wanted to paint the middle housing, DO IT BEFORE THIS STEP!!!

 

Tools Required: Clamps (they help if you broke your tabs)

Material Required: RTV Silicone Sealant (Black if you can find it)

 

1. Read the directions on your sealant! Use it as directed, if it needs to sit before you put it together, DO IT!

 

2. Put a decent size (fill the groove if you want) bead of sealant in the groove of the back of the headlight housing.

 

3. Make sure everything is lined up and press the middle housing into the sealant. Apply your sealant over the tabs of the middle housing and sandwich the middle housing between the front and rear housing. Press it together till the clips on the front secure to the back. (If you have broken clips like me, use clamps)

 

4. Wait the time specified on the directions of your sealant.

 

5. Replace the caps and plugs on the housing

 

6. Buy some orange bulbs to replace the white ones for your turn signals.

 

7. Put the headlights back on your vehicle.

 

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please e-mail Dennis@dmcomps.com And if you're the dirt bag trying to sell instructions on how to do this on eBay, I hope you choke on your own tongue.  Thank You

 

Dennis