How to Restore Car Headlights

 

One of the most common problems faced by car owners is the front Hazy Oxidized Yellowish headlights. The rear headlights can also be affected; we will specifically address the front ones. Out of 100%, headlights hold about 40% of a car’s appeal. If they are shiny and tidy, it will draw a lot of attention. If they are dirty and ugly, your car would not even look hideous, but it would also decrease the overall value of your car.

For fixing the old headlights, there are a lot of methods on the internet that can be used to clean your headlights such as cleaning kits, using baking soda, vinegar, toothpaste and etc. All these methods might do the job but they are all temporary, and the Hazy Yellowish effect comes back over time.

The following method, however, is a permanent one and requires no maintenance i.e. adding wax or sealer in the future, what so ever.

Tools Required

  • Pair of Scissors
  • Garbage Bags
  • Insulation Tape (wide)
  • Paper Towel
  • Sand Paper (P400, P600, P2000 Grit)
  • Water Spray (for wet sanding)
  • Alcohol (cleaning purposes)
  • Clear Coat (Gloss clear)

 

Steps

  1. If the headlights can be easily removed from your car, do remove them, it is easy that way. If not, no problem, you can restore them without removing as well.
  2. If the headlights are in a very bad condition, start sanding with P400 grit, if not, start with P600 grit. P400 is a lot coarse while P600 is fine. Final touches would be given by P2000 grit, which is super fine.
  3. Since I was not able to remove the headlight from my car, I started using tape all around the headlight so that the body of the car does not get damaged with sanding as shown in the image below.

 

 

  1. It is now time for sanding with P400 grit. My car’s headlight is in a pretty bad condition that is why I’m using P400 first.

 

  1. When sanding, we will keep spraying the sandpaper as well as the surface of the headlight. The water acts as a lubricant and prevents deep scratches. During sanding do not press hard. Also, sand in circular motion.

 

  1. While sanding, you would notice the yellowish oxidised plastics coming off with water. Also, remember to sand all the edges and corners of the headlights properly.
  2. Keep sanding till all the light scratches are in horizontal position, and the headlights look milky and hazy. The reason why we are doing horizontal motion sanding is because when clear coat is applied, it won’t slide down easily and would hold to the horizontal edges that we just created as shown below;

  1. Now it is time to use P600grit, get the sandpaper and the surface of the headlights soaking wet and start sanding.
  2. With P600 you can press a little bit harder in a circular motion first and then horizontal motion, just like P400.
  3. Now we will use P2000 grit as a final stage of sanding. But before that, clean the headlight’s surface with water.
  4. After sanding, you would notice small scratches and hazy effect but its normal, you want it to be that way.
  5. First, dry it with a paper towel and then clean it with alcohol soaked paper towel.
  6. Now it’s time to apply the clear coat. Since my headlights are fixed, first I’ll tape the garbage bag around the headlight. We are protecting the body of the car from over spraying.

  1. Clean the surface of the headlight again. And then start clear coating.

 

  1. When spraying, keep the spray thin, as thick coats wear off with time.
  2. Now let it dry for 5 minutes.
  3. Re-apply the coat, make sure it reaches all the edge and let it dry.
  4. Finally, reapply another coat and let it dry for 24 hours. Also, you may add wax and buff it for more shine.

And with that, you should have the headlight looking like this;