I recently painted my inner headlight housings black (sometimes called the “Joey mod”) and wanted to share some quick pictures and a DIY of how I did this mod. I decided to do this after seeing my friend Blake’s RS4 with blacked out headlights and really liking how it looked on his car. Given there is very little chrome left on my car, I also felt the chrome headlights were starting to stick out too much and painting the headlights black might tie everything together nicely. Overall I’m very happy with it (despite some initial reservations) and think its a great way to make the front end just a little more aggressive than it would be otherwise…
Above you can see the before and after – I wasn’t so sure if I liked it at first as it looked a little too aftermarket (dare I say ricey?), but now that I’ve given it some time, I really dig it. In order to make it look a little more OEM, I added back in my orange turn signal reflectors, which I think helped keep the look aggressive without being over the top. In the picture above, I think you can see what I mean about the headlights sticking out too much when in the original chrome/silver finish, whereas below they blend in a little nicer with the red & white motif that I have throughout the car…
The great thing about this mod is that it’s very easy to do, costs virtually nothing (the cost of one can of spray paint and a small T8 torx screwdriver) and makes a huge difference to the appearance of the car. Best of all, if/when I get tired of it, it should be pretty easy to reverse by taking the inner housing out and painting it silver again. I may also experiment with a gunmetal color to see how that looks further down the road.
To do this mod, take off the headlights like you would for the clear corner mod detailed in this post (in fact, I’d recommend doing all mods to your headlights at this time – including LED DRLs, clear corner mod and any other changes to the bulbs or appearance you have in mind). Pull the headlights apart by removing the 5 retaining clips and heating the glue (again, as described in the clear corner post above). Once the headlight is split in two, there are three screws holding in the inner housing pictured above – they are very small torx bits size 8, and you may need to pick up a special screwdriver to get them as most standard torx bits will be too big. A T8 torx screwdriver should be available at any home improvement store (Home Depot, Ace, Lowes, etc.). Once the inner housing has been removed, give it a light sanding then paint it the color you desire. Give it a few coats and then let it dry before screwing it back in and then reinstall everything. Also be sure not to get any fingerprints on the inside of the headlight housing, because if you do it will drive you nuts (ask me how I know!). Give the inside a quick wipe down with a microfiber to make sure there is no dust or fingerprints that may be distracting once you put the headlights back together…
The other thing you may want to consider doing at this stage is a headlight restoration if your headlights are badly pitted or discolored on the outside. When the headlights are off the car, it’s much easier to sand and buff them without worrying about scratching the paint (plus you can do it from the comfort of indoors). If you decide to do a headlight restoration kit, I like this one from Meguiars as it comes with sandpaper to really get out the pitting and imperfections you may have accumulated (the kits with only polish don’t really clean deep enough, IMO).
The only hard part is taking off the bumper and headlights, but it’s fairly straightforward if you’ve done that part before. If you haven’t, you can also just do one side at a time (without taking the bumper all of the way off, just half off) so that you can keep everything lined up nicely. If you take the bumper all of the way off, only tighten the headlights back on about half way before putting the bumper back on, then tighten and adjust the headlights last to make sure everything lines up nicely, otherwise you’ll end up with some funky gaps between the headlights, grille and bottom of the hood.
That’s all I have to say about the Joey mod/blacked out headlight mod – let me know what you think!
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