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Headlamp Film Installation
 
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Pelican Technical Article:

Headlamp Film Installation

Time:

1 hr

Tab:

$70

Talent:

**

Tools:

Squeegee, hair dryer

Applicable Models:

Porsche 986 Boxster (1997-04)
Porsche 986 Boxster S (2000-04)
Porsche 987 Boxster (2005-12)
Porsche 987 Boxster S (2005-12)

Parts Required:

Headlamp film kit

Hot Tip:

Take your time " don't rush

Performance Gain:

Protection for your headlamps

Complementary Modification:

Litronic headlamp kit
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If you install new headlamps on your Boxster, you may be concerned with keeping rock chips and other debris from damaging them. Replacing a broken headlamp assembly can be very expensive, particularly if you have the Litronic headlamps ($750 each). One solution that I typically like to deploy on each car I own is the application of headlamp protection film. The film I typically use is manufactured by 3M, and is a few millimeters thick. According to the specifications, the film can supposedly protect against 1 inch sized rocks travelling at 120 mph. Film kits are available for the Boxster headlamps in pre-cut shapes, which makes installation very easy. The film is also available in different colors like yellow, which may be cool for track cars. The kit used for this project was manufactured by Xpel, using 3M film, and is available from PelicanParts.com for about $70.

You can install the film dry or wet. In general, you typically get better results with a wet installation, although I have personally done it both ways, and got similar results. For a dry installation, carefully clean the surface of the headlamp to remove any grease, tar, dirt, bug residue, etc. I like to use a glass cleaner like Windex to start, then use a de-greaser like Simple Green, and then go over it again with Windex. For a final wipe, I use isopropyl alcohol and some lint-free Kimwipes, but may be a bit overkill for most applications. Be sure the headlamp is completely dry. Perform the installation of the film with the car at room temperature: you don't want it to be too cold. In colder environments, you can turn on the headlamps to warm them up prior to installation.

Prior to removing the paper backing off of the film, test fit the film to the headlamp: it can sometimes be easy to confuse the left and right sides, as they are cut differently but look the same if they are accidentally flipped upside down. When ready, remove the paper backing from the film, taking care not to touch the adhesive side. As many times as I have done this, I have learned that it's helpful to have an assistant peel the backing while you hold the film. The film is a bit expensive, and you don't want to make any mistakes or drop it while you're pulling off the backing paper.

With the adhesive exposed, simply line up and place the film on the headlamp starting with the lower inside corner, and making sure the top part is properly aligned. Press the film down on the headlamp from the inside to the outside. Use the squeegee that comes with the film kit to press it down on the headlamp. If there are any significant bubbles on the film, simply lift it up and reapply it to the lamp. Since the film is clear, small bubbles don't show up unless you look at the lamp very, very carefully. It takes about two days for the adhesive to fully cure, so don't wash your car or let it get wet for about 48 hours after.

For wet installation, you need a spray bottle, a hair dryer, 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol and some ordinary tap water. Thoroughly clean the headlamp as described in the previous section on dry installation. Mix about 25% of alcohol and 75% of water into the spray bottle. For the wet installation, the temperature should be above room temperature. Turn on the high beams and let the lamp housings get warm to the touch. Also warm up the film pieces using a heat gun or hair dryer. Test fit each piece to the headlamp prior to removing the paper backing. Wet your fingers completely with the water / alcohol solution, and then have your assistant help you by removing the paper backing from the film. With you holding the film, have your assistant spray the adhesive side of the film. Do not touch the film with dry fingers, as this will leave marks that will not go away when the film is installed. Now spray the warmed up headlamp with the water / alcohol solution. Apply the film to the headlamp and use your hand to smooth the piece onto the lamp from the inside out. Using the squeegee supplied in the kit, press down on the film and from the center out squeeze out any of the water / alcohol solution towards the sides of the headlamp. Use firm continuous strokes to achieve the best results.

The Boxster headlamp is slightly contoured, which means that the adhesive may not stick to the lens immediately. If this is the case, then simply use the hair dryer to heat the film and smooth it out. The heat will soften up the film and also help to evaporate some of the solution to allow for a better fit. It's important not to overheat the film: you just need to get it warm and compliant. There may be a hazy appearance in the film after installation: this is caused by excess moisture trapped between the headlamp and the film. This is typical, and should disappear within a week or so. The application of heat helps to dissipate the moisture, so I recommend that you drive with your headlamps on at all times for about a week. As with the dry installation, avoid letting the car get wet for about 48 hours after installation.

This photo shows one side of the Xpel headlight film kit.
Figure 1

This photo shows one side of the Xpel headlight film kit. The kit is specially cut for the Boxster headlamp pattern from 3M film and contains two separate pieces. The film is available in various colors, which allows you to color your headlamp, as is shown on this Boxster (inset photo).

For the wet installation, apply firm pressure from the center of the headlamp working your way to the outer edges.
Figure 2

For the wet installation, apply firm pressure from the center of the headlamp working your way to the outer edges. Squeeze out as much residual moisture from the water / alcohol solution. If the film isn't adhering completely to the headlamp, then heat the film up with a hairdryer (inset), being careful not to apply too much heat to the film.

The installation of the film allows you the freedom to change the color of your headlamps (the headlamp and fog lamp are both tinted yellow).
Figure 3

The installation of the film allows you the freedom to change the color of your headlamps (the headlamp and fog lamp are both tinted yellow). Check with your local vehicle codes to determine if this is legal in your area.

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Comments and Suggestions:
myboxster Comments: The headlights on my 2005 987 are beginning to peel and flake. I'm guessing the previous owner had film installed. Do you have nay recommendations for removing old hardened film? Also, does pelican parts have a kit for 987's?
July 21, 2015
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: That could be the headlight plastic flaking.

Give our parts specialists a call at 1-888-280-7799. They can figure out what part or repair kit you need.
- Nick at Pelican Parts
 

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