How to make your headlights look new again!

Have your headlights seen better days? Are they starting to become yellow? Or starting to haze?

oxidized headlight
Oxidized Headlights

Most headlights are made of a poly-carbonate plastic. This plastic can take the harsh road and weather conditions we all face without the hassle of breaking or cracking. Manufacturers apply a thin layer of UV protection coating on the lens to protect them but Eventually, over time the coating gets destroyed from the sun. The sun turns your nice and clear headlight housings into a hazy yellowish mess That blocks your view and posses a safety issue. But not to worry! We can fix that and you can follow the steps all you need is…

1. 1000, 2000 and 3000 grit sandpaper is usually ideal. Let them sit in water for a few hours if not 24 before sanding.
2. Polishing compound I use Scholl S20 All in one but anyone step polish will do.
3.Painters tape 
4.Microfiber towels
optional for protection.
Wax or paint sealant. 
Then there are ceramic coatings that can be applied for superior protection!
If you don’t want to be doing this in a few months again I highly suggest Ceramic coatings. One coating I work with is Ceramic Pro but there are tons of company’s out there from professional like Ceramic Pro to consumer grade like McKee’s 37 Headlight Coating

First lets clean the surrounding area. ( Or the whole car ) Then GET TAPING! Make sure you get around all the edges well so you will not poke through the tape and damage the surrounding paint or trim.

Now you get the sandpaper and get sanding!

Before and after of a corrected headlight
Before and after of a corrected headlight

If you grabbed all the sandpaper listed above you will have 1000, 2000 and 3000 grit sandpaper. Make sure the headlight is always wet to ensure you are not causing any deeper scratches with debris from sanding. Using the wet 1000 grit sandpaper  (the lower the number the more abrasive the sandpaper)  go in one straight motion you are comfortable with straight or horizontal strokes and go at the headlight do not be afraid to sit there for 5 – 10 minutes. Gradually work your way up too 2000 then 3000 always making sure the headlight and sandpaper are fresh and wet a spray bottle works perfectly for this. Once you think everything is repaired and went well over with 3000 grit then it is on to the next step!

Polishing the headlights

The easiest method to do this is with a rotary buffer or a dual action polisher. Or a drill with a pad attachment will do.
NOT the easy method is with elbow grease and probably more aggressive compound. 
 BUT I will explain both ways to do this.

An easy method is either having a drill and a hook and loop with some pads . or the more expensive route is a rotary or dual action polisher. Use medium to fine pads and some Scholl S20 All in one or anyone step polish will do the trick. Just spread the polish on the pads and work away till you see all the scratches vanish and you are left with a nice clean new lens!

The not so easy method.


Squeeze some Scholl S20 All in one in a microfiber towel and go in circular motions you will have to work at it and make sure you get out all the scratches. You can also try some heavier compounds to get it out easier.

Next is the protection so you don’t have to do that in a few weeks!

You can put some of your favourite wax on it and apply it any time you annually do your paint. Same with a paint sealant which will have a bit longer lasting properties. 
But that will only give you so much protection and the discolouring and haze can come back. If you want something that can last you a year or more then there are ceramic coatings. They bond to the plastic and are designed to prevent the UV from discolouring and fading your headlights out again!

This is a less costly route to go if you are not willing to fork out the hundreds they are asking for headlight lens now in days, but finding a local detailer to get it done and protected right is recommended if you do not have to tools to do so.

Please think of sharing if you like this info!
​And if you have any questions please comment below!  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *