How To: Headlight Restoration

  • Written by: Amanda Myers

Foggy headlights? For some people, this is a just a minor problem, not worth their time or money. But did you know, a large percentage of car accidents are due to oxidized headlights?

Headlights are external features of a car made of polycarbonate plastic that is constantly exposed to heat, UV rays, air, strong chemicals, and road debris. With all these contaminants combined, you have yellow headlights that could barely allow light from the bulb to go through the lens. Because of this, the light output becomes weakened, dim, and covers a smaller area on the road which is a cause for concern especially at night or during winter. This is the reason why it is important to keep your headlights clean and lenses clear.

There are several methods to defog headlights. When people face this problem, they usually immediately resort to making a replacement which costs about $250-$700 for entire headlight replacement. But did you know, there are other cheaper methods to restore headlights?

1. DIY headlight restoration with household products (fast way)

Toothpaste is the main ingredient for this process. It contains baking soda which is a very well-known cleaning product in the kitchen.

Here's how:

  1. Just mix a regular toothpaste (avoid colored, minted toothpaste) with a bit of water.
  2. Use a cloth to rub the mixture on the headlights.
  3. Wipe off the mixture with a clean dry cloth.
  4. Apply a sealant to protect the headlights from future contaminants.

This do it yourself method is the fastest and cheapest home remedy to clean cloudy headlights to achieve temporary results.

Let's have a look at video tutorial for using toothpaste for the restoration of yellow headlights

2. DIY headlight restoration with household products (slow way)

Sanding and polishing are the main tasks for this process. The things you need are masking tape, water in spray bottle, sand paper in 400 grit, drying towel, rubbing alcohol, polishing compound and wax.

  1. Cover the area around the headlights with a masking tape.
  2. Soak a piece of sandpaper in water and spray water on the headlight.
  3. Sand the headlight in one direction, back and forth.
  4. Dry the headlight with a towel and wipe with rubbing alcohol.
  5. Refinish with a polishing compound.
  6. Wax the headlights to protect it from future contaminants.

Look at the tutorial of the restoration of hazy headlights using sandpaper

3. DIY headlight restoration with special products (kits)

You'll need to purchase a headlight restoration kit to perform this process. If you do not want to experiment with household items, this is your best option to clean headlights.

These kits cost $10-$20 (As of March 13, 2017) and already include all products (cleaning solutions), tools (scuffing disc that can be used by hand or on a dual action/random orbital polisher) and simple instructions needed for you to start cleaning, restoring, and preserving your headlight right away with either by hand or by using a dual action/random orbital polisher and achieve results similar to that of a work done by a professional car detailer. We've come up with a list of the best headlight restoration kits to help buyers decide on which want to buy, click here.

4. Professional cleaning service

Based on our research, it would cost about $75-$100 to hire a professional to restore headlights. (Researched estimated costs as of March 13, 2017).

The benefits of a professional cleaning service are:

  • No effort on your part
  • No risk of further damaging your headlights
  • Professional tools and high-class products will be used to restore your headlights
  • The outcome will last longer

Main Image Copyright: “bogdanhoda/Shutterstock”