Like A Pro
First, understand that all plastic headlights will eventually lose their shine, turning hazy, foggy, and even yellowing.
When a car rolls off the assembly line, the headlights are sprayed with a UV protectant coating. Unfortunately, that coating will eventually break down, usually at the five-year mark.
This degradation is caused by the sun’s UV rays. It’s also happening the car’s paint and other plastic surfaces.
But headlights are a poly carbonate plastic. It is very hard, but unprotected, it with etch from the elements leaving that unsightly hazy appearance. Worse, that haze greatly impedes the functionality of headlights changing the refraction of the beams, diffusing and dimming their performance.
Luckily restoring the brand-new shine to headlights is a satisfying DIY project that can take as few as ten minutes to about two hours.
The short list goes like this:
If the headlight is just starting to get hazy, you can hand-rub an all-in-one headlight restorer product like Rain-X Headlight Restorer, to bring the headlight back to a passable shine. This is a short-term fix, but looks great for that first date.
If the headlight is moderately foggy, using an automotive compound with a drill and polishing pad with achieve the same results as hand rubbing, but faster, and more aggressively. Applying a headlight UV protectant is highly recommended to prolong the headlight shine.
For more problematic headlights – There are two products that stand head-and-shoulders above the rest: 3M’s Ultra Headlight Restoration Kit for $16.00, makes excellent use of any drill; and TurtleWax’ Headlight Lens Restorer kit, for $18.00, which is entirely applied by-hand.
3M’s kit includes masking tape, gloves, sanding and polishing discs, a drill-attachment, and headlight clear coat.
TurtleWax’s kit includes a special spray and compound used in conjunction with sanding and polishing pads, as well as a two-step lens base-coat wipe and sealing wipe.
In a “money-is-no-object” world, we would use the drill attachment and discs from the 3M kit, and the spray and compound from the TurtleWax kit.
But more importantly, we would use a separate UV protectant called Cerakote Ceramic Nanoglass Coating on the headlights. As, space-aged as it sounds, while the coatings in the kits above may give you a year before the headlight plastic is vulnerable to the sun’s UV rays again, this $20 ceramic coating is guaranteed by the manufacturer for as long as you own your car!
On a side note, PLEASE do not use WD-40, which is basically a coating of oil; or toothpaste, which is just a terrible polishing compound alternative; or any other household products to restore your headlights. Stick with the professional tools and products and you’ll get professional results at a fraction of paying someone else to do it.
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