Car headlights serve the important purpose of illuminating the road with powerful beams at night. It would be impossible to drive without a bright set of headlights. Headlights also let other motorists see you on the road and help them stay out of your direction.
These days, it has become a trend to add extra fog lights car LEDs, and light bars. But there is no substitute for standard manufacturer car headlight bulbs that conform to safety standards and will not obscure the road for other vehicles.
Over time, you may find the plastic or polycarbonate lens of your car headlights begin to cloud over and deteriorate. The beams turn yellowish and you may find it difficult to drive down a dark road.
Getting the headlights restored is an easy DIY task that you can do at home. You just need some simple materials to get your headlights shining like new in no time.
Materials to get your headlights clean
Some people use vinegar and other household items to clean headlights, but these are only temporary solutions to cloudy lenses. There are many headlight restoration kits available in the market that you could use, but if you can’t find the right one, purchase these simple products from a car accessory store. You will need:
- Masking tape
- Microfibre cloths
- Sandpaper (grit specification of around 2000 & 1000)
- Polishing compound
- Ultraviolet sealant
- Soap and water solution
Steps to restore your headlights
First, make sure that the headlights are free of any dirt and grease. Use a mild washing solution to clean the lens and wipe dry with a microfibre cloth.
Use masking tape to cover all painted areas surrounding the headlight lens. This includes the hood, grille, bumpers, and any other plastic trim. Since you will be using sandpaper on the lens, a slip of the hand may damage your paint finish.
Take the most abrasive grit of sandpaper (2000 grade) and carefully wet it. Also, apply some water on the lens because you need to keep the surface and material wet in order to avoid scratches on the lens. Gently sand the lend in straight strokes without putting pressure. Keep wetting the lens and sandpaper during this 5–10-minute process.
Now clean the lens and use a finer sandpaper grit (1000 grade). Change the direction of strokes to get an even surface finish. Remember to keep wetting the sandpaper and lens. Sanding the headlight lens strips away the cloudy layer on the lens and reveals a shiny surface for light to pass through.
Next, clean the lens thoroughly with soapy water to get rid of any sandpaper residue. Wipe dry again with a microfibre cloth and you should have a clearer lens at this point. The restoration isn’t over so get to the next step.
Get out the polishing wax and apply it to the plastic lens. Use a clean microfibre cloth to rub in the polishing compound and use a circular motion to buff the surface. Spend some time here until you are confident of having a shiny lens.
You can apply the wax onto the headlights and continue buffing them with a clean microfibre towel. The lens will start to look brand new at this point. Basically, you have scraped away all the discolored parts and have revealed a new shiny layer underneath the lens.
An ultraviolet sealant should be added now in order to maintain the newfound luster and keep it from being damaged by sunlight and heat. The UV sealant forms a protective layer over the lens to provide you with more years of great nighttime visibility from the powerful headlight bulbs.
The restoration is over, all you need to do now is let the car rest in a shaded spot for the UV sealant to dry up and cure.
Take a test drive
Drive the car out at night with the full beams on to test visibility. You should notice a marked improvement in brightness and coverage angles after the restoration.
If you feel that the lens could still be brighter, then repeat the sanding and polishing process once again to get better results. The headlights usually work well after a second treatment and will not require a replacement unless badly damaged.
Headlight restoration kits are inexpensive and can be purchased for around Rs.1000 -1500. Suitable brands are Rain-X, Turtle Wax, and Armor All. They come with detailed instructions to clear your headlight lens along with the required materials.
Buying the items individually will save you a few bucks and it is a pleasure to restore the headlights yourself in your garage at home.
This guide should get you back on the road with excellent night vision from restored headlights. There are some quick fixes such as applying toothpaste on the headlights and buffing it, but the steps mentioned here will last you a long time and get your headlights looking brand new.