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topic 10420

Chrome Mystery


My wife owns a 2001 Honda Civic. I did something that's called clearing the headlights. Which involves taking the headlight apart and removing the orange lens inside making the entire headlight clear. Anyway, when I took it apart I got a fingerprint on the chrome inside the light. I took a papertowel and dampened it and attempted to remove the fingerprint. I removed the fingerprint but it left small black scratch marks. Its not noticeable really but I know it's there. Why would this material just wipe off? And it there a way to fix it other than buying a new headlight?

Thanx again,

Charley Bright
- Hope, Arkansas, USA


While a layman may refer to all silvery shiny surfaces as 'chrome' this problem has little to do with chrome, which is a metal which would probably not be used for this purpose. I am not familiar with the innards of a Honda headlamp, but it sounds like you encountered a 'front surface mirror'; this is a mirror where the silvering or aluminizing is on top of the glass or plastic rather than behind it. Front surface mirrors are used where the ultimate reflectivity is desired, because the light does not have to travel through the glass, to the silvering, and back through the glass again.

It's a very delicate surface because it deliberately has no covering over the very thin metallizing; unfortunately, I don't think you can repair it.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey

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