How to Smoke/Tint Tail Lights
1990-1994 Lexus LS400
This is a cheap and easy mod that I think looks really good on a black colored car. I will warn you that if you tint your tails really dark your car may not be street legal anymore and you could get pulled over and ticketed. Check your state laws before doing this mod, here is a link so you can look up statutes for all states. These laws are in place for safety reasons. Other cars need to see your car so don't go too dark. To balance out my darker tails I installed super bright halogen 1157 bulbs. They claim to be 50% brighter and I can tell you that they are much brighter than normal 1157 bulbs. Only use transparent spray paint when you do this, the light still needs to pass through. I used 2 cans of VHT Nite-Shades and one can of gloss.
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- VHT Nite-Shades
- Painter's Touch gloss clear spray paint
- Paper for masking
- Painters tape
- Rubbing alcohol
1) Remove the two 10mm bolts that hold the RH corner section of the tails. Pull the corner section of trim back in the trunk and you will see these bolts. Do the same for the LH corner section.
2) Once you have the two bolts out pull straight back and the section will pop out. Once it's out unscrew the screw circled in this pic and twist the bulbs out. Set the corner tail sections aside.
3) Remove the trim piece under the trunk hood. On each side, remove these 5 8mm bolts. You need to take out the rubber plugs in the corners to see the 5th bolt. Unclip the wiring harness and set the inner tail sections aside.
4) Prep the tails for paint. I used some grocery bags and blue painters tape to mask off everything I did not want painted. Once masked I cleaned the plastic with rubbing alcohol and a towel. It is important to get everything off before painting, especially old wax. You want your paint to bond straight to the plastic. Do not touch the area to be painted because fingerprints will show. Even little specs of dust will show so the plastic needs to be spotless if you want a good paint job.
5) Apply the first coat of transparent lens paint. This pic shows the result of one full scan of VHT Nite-Shades on LS tails. Spray the paint on 12-18" from the surface. The key is to do many light coats. I just walked around this table one coat at a time. Just wait a minute or so for the paint to dry and then repeat until the can is empty or you have reached your desired tint level. After one can I recommend letting it dry for about an hour before applying a second can. You need to be patient with this. If you spray too close in hopes of saving time there is a good chance you'll botch the paint job. When you start painting, it will look like almost no paint is being applied, don't worry, many light coats is best! And obviously, make sure you paint in a well ventilated area!
6) This pic is the result of 2 cans of VHT Nite-Shades . As you can see the finish is very dull. I used a full can of Painter's Touch gloss clear spray paint to put some shine back on my tails. Apply the gloss as you applied the tint. This is where you really have to be careful not to get too close because it looks like it isn't getting glossy, don't worry. Again, a lot of thin coats is better than a runny paint job.
7) Wait about 24 hours for the paint to cure.
8) Finish off the tails by applying one or two coats of wax.
9) Attach your tinted tails and take a look!
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