The headlights of a car are essential to road safety. Foggy headlights can be unsightly and can pose a hazard for yourself and others so it is important that they are in good condition and are functioning correctly.
Over time, car headlights can become discolored and foggy. Replacement lenses and assemblies can be costly. DIY headlight restoration can save you a trip to the garage, and provide a cheap but effective alternative to a professional headlight restoration service. Here are some simple steps you can do at home in order to get your headlights in tip-top condition again.
DIY Method for Headlight Restoration
1. Wash the Headlights
Before you begin headlight maintenance, you’ll need to ensure that the headlights themselves are clean. Either wash them during a full car wash or clean the headlights separately in preparation for restoration. Headlight cleaner is also a suitable option for this step.
This is not an essential step, but it will help when polishing the headlights. If you are going to sand, use blue painters tape to tape them off- do not use duct tape. Spray the headlights with water and keep them wet while you sand. Use 1000 grit automotive sandpaper in a circular motion to polish until the oxidation, which will be the cause of the fogging, is removed. When finished, spray once again with water and wipe the surface clean with a microfiber cloth.
There are two types of compound that can be used for headlight restoration, polishing compound and rubbing compound. Polishing compound is of a finer consistency and is more gentle than the rubbing compound— which is gritty. They’ll both do the job, use whichever you feel more comfortable using and the one that is more suited to the desired finish.
You’ll need to put the compound on a microfiber cloth and use a circular motion to apply it to the headlight. It can take several minutes of rubbing to achieve the desired result. An orbital buffer could make the headlight restoration process quicker, but it is not a necessity. Finish by buffing away any residue with a clean microfibre cloth.
While the method above is very thorough and effective, there is also a cheap and very simple solution using household items that also works well. This method is also the best way to clean yellow headlights.
Alternative DIY Method
You Will Need:
- Baking soda
- Water in a spray bottle
1. Mix baking soda into your toothpaste to create a gritty consistency
2. Hand rub the mixture onto the surface of the headlight
3. Work the paste into the light using the toothbrush
4. Spray the surface of the headlight with warm water
5. With a cloth wash the paste off and then dry the light
6. Cover the headlight with wax which will act as a protective barrier then use a cloth to wipe it straight off
If your headlight is particularly yellow or foggy before cleaning, you may need to repeat steps 1-3 twice before proceeding with the other instructions.