Let’s face it – we can all be a little more attentive to our car headlights. When’s the last time you’ve taken a look at your headlights? Chances are it can use a little cleaning, tender, love and care. Over time our headlights tend to wear down easily and appear to have a cloudy haze over them since most are primarily made of polycarbonate plastic. Over time, UV Rays from the sun cause oxidation to the outer surface of the plastic headlights (formerly glass until the 1980s). This is especially dangerous driving with cloudy headlights because it reduces your visibility and makes it difficult for others sharing the road to see you. Thankfully, there are a lot of products available to keep your headlights shining like new that take little time and are reasonably priced. There are many inexpensive headlight restoration kits on the market to help polish your lights back into how they were or even better! Here are some tips to restoring your headlights back to their better days.
Wash your car! Step 1, very important. Washing your car helps remove a lot of the dirt, dust and other major grit and grime from the headlights. This will also help keep dirt and dust from the car getting on your headlights during the restoration process. A helpful tip is to wax your car as well, at least the headlights and about 12 inches surrounding area to keep dirt and dust getting in the way while you work, and most importantly prevents polish dripping that may damage your car paint.
- Outline your headlights with masking tape. This will help further prevent polish getting into areas outside of your headlights. Make sure to cover any nearby trim. The headlight polish and sanding may be very abrasive to chrome. Steer clear!
- Sand Away. This will undo most of the sun damage done to your headlights. Sanding your headlights should remove about 90% of the yellow cloudy haze gathered on the plastic surface. You will want to wet your 1000-grit sandpaper in cool water and let soak for about 10-15 minutes. This allows the sandpaper to stay clean and also act as a lubricant during the sanding process. When sanding the headlights you will want to work in a vertical motion, patiently using gentle up and down strokes in one direction. Keep the surface area wet by continuously re-wetting the sandpaper during entire process until the haze and yellowness is completely removed. You can check in between sanding by using a towel to wipe the headlights down to see which areas need more attention. Clean the area dry when you are satisfied with the results. Repeat same sanding process a second time, this time sanding in right angles. Clean the area dry when satisfied.
- Shine with polish or toothpaste (yes, toothpaste works too!). Clear your freshly sanded highlights with some fine polish. Don’t forget to protect your hands from the chemicals by wearing gloves! Apply some polish using a foam applicator pad or microfiber cloth in circular motions. Patiently continue the circular motion for about 10 minutes per headlight. As the polish dries, it should wipe away the remainder of UV buildup off the headlight and onto the cloth or pad. No polish? No problem! Grab a tube of toothpaste, apply some onto a cloth and firmly rub in small circles. Add a little water and toothpaste as necessary during process. Wipe down, rinse, and repeat until you get desired results.
- Apply protectant layer of UV Sealant. This will act as an extended protection from the harsh UV rays. Do not skip this step or you may have wasted your efforts just to see the yellow haze return within a few weeks.
Using the tips listed above you will see a huge difference in your headlights, especially driving at night. Not only are clear headlights more aesthetically pleasing, it is a lot safer. You can just go out and buy some new headlights from our top notch selection at Illuminate Nation. Or, you can easily extend the lifespan of your perfectly good headlights with a little time and effort. Take a look at your car the next time you step out and see if it could use a little love. A little can go a long way, especially for your headlights…they’ll thank you later.