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Driving down the highways you realize that your visibility isn’t as good as it once was.
Noticing, that your headlights seem to give off a haze instead of projecting a beam like they were designed to.
Also, this hazy glow from your headlights can blind other drivers on the roads.
You may be thinking “It’s just dirt and bugs, I just need to wash them with some soap and water”, that may be the case but if you’ve been driving that vehicle for a while odds are it’s not.
Keep in mind as human’s we have up to 30% decreased vision at night so we need the brightest headlights that project a focused beam. the hazy glow from your headlights can blind other drivers.
Headlights are made out of plastic and the UV rays of the sun attack this plastic causing it to oxidize.
Essentially, your headlights are rusting, the same way the body of the car rusts but instead this oxidation causes a hazy/foggy film over the headlight lens.
In order to treat this problem, we need to clean all of the haze off of the lens, polish it and then add a way to protect the headlights from the UV rays of the sun.
In This Article
In order of the best to worst methods for getting the brightest headlights:
– High Deet Bug Spray (Off, Muskol, Deep Woods, Cutter)
Headlight restoration using a headlight restoration kit is very simple and anybody can easily do it themselves at home.
Headlight restoration kits come with everything needed to reverse the damage to your headlights and taillights from oxidation.
Not only do they reverse the pre-existing damage from the UV rays, but also, they give added protection to the headlight to prevent future damage.
Depending on the headlight restoration kit that you purchase, the kit will come with different applicators and buffing tools.
However, every single restoration kit will come with some kind of sanding tool, a product for headlight restoration, a headlight polish and a buffing tool.
Cleaning your foggy headlights and removing the oxidation damage is similar between all types of kits, the biggest difference is whether or not you’re using power tools or by hand.
The first step is to clean your headlights and taillights using your preferred choice of automotive soap and water.
If you need soap for your vehicle check here.
While cleaning be sure to get as much of the dirt and debris that you can off of the headlight lens.
Also, look inside of the covers for the headlights and taillights, if you notice moisture or damage inside you may have to remove the cover and clean inside.
Grab some Painter’s Tape or a similar kind of tape, we’re going to be sanding the headlight and don’t want to damage the paint or body of the vehicle.
Take some tape and do a border around the outside of the headlights and taillights.
Probably the most important step, depending on what headlight restoration kit that you purchased, there will be 3 different grits of sandpapers to use on your headlights.
In this example, we had 1000 grit, 2000 grit and 3000 grit strength for sanding.
The lower the number the coarser/rougher the sandpaper.
*Be sure that the headlight and sandpaper always stay wet, if it’s dry you will scratch the lens and damage it further.
It’s a good idea to keep a hose or spray bottle close by to apply water when needed. *
Starting with the roughest most abrasive paper in your kit, for us, the 1000 grit sandpaper, wet both the headlight and the sandpaper.
With the first sanding be sure that you’re doing straight horizontal strokes, in the same direction every time.
Don’t be afraid to spend some time doing an amazing job with this first sanding as it’s the defining step in the end result.
After you’re happy with the results from the first sanding, go to the second lowest rated grit paper in your kit, for us, the 2000 grit sandpaper.
Same as with the more abrasive paper, wet both the paper and headlight, be sure they stay wet the whole time to prevent scratching.
However, this time we’re going to be sanding in a diagonal motion sanding in the same direction every time.
Final Sanding, using the finest grit sandpaper in your kit, for us the 3000 grit.
Repeat the same as you did the first step of the other sandings, wet the paper and headlight to prevent scratches.
Now, with this final sanding, we’ll be going diagonal again but, in the opposite direction as we did with the second paper
* If you have a buffing tool there’s kits available for use with that and if you have a drill there’s kits that are available to use with that.
going to be sanding in a diagonal motion sanding in the same direction every time.
Now that we’re done sanding, wipe the headlights dry and grab the polish out of your headlight restoration kit.
Squirt some polish, about the size of a fingernail, onto a microfiber cloth and rub it into the lens until the headlight is clear.
Note, this will take a few minutes and if you have one you could use a polishing tool.
When the headlight lens is clear, grab your wax and apply a small amount of it to the headlight using a foam applicator.
Make sure you’re making small circular motions and the headlight lens is fully dry before waxing to prevent streaking.
Since we sanded off the old UV sealant, we need to add this final layer of protection to our nice clear headlights to keep them that way.
Be sure to follow the instructions that come with your UV sealer as the application process varies depending on the one you use.
Usually, it is applied using a wet paper towel in sweeping strokes across the headlight then moved to a cool, dry place to cure.
Refer to the instructions for how many coats your specific sealant needs.
That’s all there is to it, you should now have shiny, new looking headlights that give the visibility you desire at night.
However, if you didn’t get the desired result, you may need to repeat the process one more time or you may just need to replace your headlight lens.
As you drive over time, you’re noticing decreased visibility in the dark and looking for a DIY home remedy to fix this.
If your headlights aren’t too heavily oxidized, toothpaste can be an amazing solution to getting clear headlights again.
For added and lasting protection, be sure to pick up some UV Sealant.
- Prepare the headlight for the removal of oxidation and prevent making new scratches by pre-cleaning the lens of dirt and debris.
- Wet the headlight and use automotive soap being sure to get rid of as much dirt of the lens that you possibly can.
- Grab a dry towel and be sure to fully dry the headlight before moving onto step 3
- Grab a dry microfiber cloth and squirt about a fingertip amount of toothpaste onto it.
- In a circular motion rub the toothpaste onto the headlight lens, continue rubbing the toothpaste into the lens for 1-2 minutes.
- Clean your microfiber cloth of all the toothpaste and wring it dry or grab a new one, make sure it’s damp and not dripping wet.
- Scrub the headlight using the damp cloth in a circular motion until you’re seeing a clear lens and scrub extra in areas that look extra hazy.
- The final step to cleaning your foggy headlights using toothpaste. Grab a dry microfiber towel and wipe the lens until it’s completely clean.
- For added protection, you can add a UV sealant and a coat of wax to prevent future oxidation.
Now that you’re done scrubbing the headlight lens with toothpaste and wiped it clean, you should have a new looking headlight.
If this didn’t give you the desired clean you were looking for, your headlights may be too oxidized.
Other options for cleaning heavily oxidized foggy headlights are headlight restoration kits or buying a new headlight lens.
You can clean headlights using bug spray and it works exceptionally well very quickly.
However, use this method at your own risk, the deet in the bug spray provides such a good clean by eating away at the plastics.
This is still a good method to use if your headlights are shot already and you just need a quick clean.
Also, this method doesn’t seem to keep the headlights clear for more than a week or so.
Pre-wash the headlight with automotive soap and water trying to get as much dirt and debris off to prevent scratching while wiping.
Never spray directly on the headlight! The deet will eat the paint and the rubber trim around your headlight.
If you’re scared to risk damaging the headlight seals or eating away at the paint on the body, grab painters tape and tape around the headlight.
Wipe the headlight using the dry paper towel and the deet will provide a clear clean.
After leaving the bug spray on the headlights for a couple of minutes, wash clean multiple times.
This is to prevent the deet from eating away at the plastics the headlight lens is made of and to prevent as much as possible from building up overtime.
This is by no means the best method but is a very quick DIY headlight restoration if you’re in a hurry. Be very cautiousl using this method and not reccommended as your go-to solution as overtime the deet may buildup and rain etc can cause it to run down to your bumper and cause damage overtime.
Here are 5 great headlight restoration kits to restore your hazy lenses.
With regular vehicle washing and headlight cleaning you won’t need to restore your headlights often.
To keep your headlights in their best condition you should restore them once every 3 to 6 months.
If you bring your vehicle to a auto detailer it’ll cost between $75 to $150 for your headlights to be restored.
You can do it yourself at home for between $5 to $40 depending on the method that you choose.
Headlight restoration kits really do work as long as you keep up with regular vehicle maintenance. If you’re headlights are too heavily oxidized then there’s no method for restoring your headlight lenses other than to replace them.
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