We talked about car-washing for Spring season in the last post. However, spring cleaning shouldn’t just stop there. Now that spring is here and the weather is clearing up, it’s time to make sure your headlights are in working order!
Most modern headlights are made of plastic, which is durable and scratch-resistant. But over time road grit and the sun’s UV rays can really put some strain on your headlights. Clouded lenses can pose a serious threat to safety, compromise night vision and reduce the effectiveness of your headlights by up to 80 percent, based on measurements by Consumer Report.
Inspect Your Headlights
If you’ve noticed that your headlights are clouded, examine them in daylight, both on and off. It’s important to find out how bad the damage is. Depending on how serious the damage is, you might be able to fix it by yourself, or the headlights may need to be replaced. If you spot major scratches, that probably indicates some more serious issues.
Another thing to check is whether the problem is on the outside or inside. What we are talking here is all about cleaning the outside of headlights. If you see moisture microspheres on the inside of the lens, the problem is on the inside and the headlight can’t be restored. Buy a replacement from an auto parts store or an online source.
Tools to Use
The first option is the all-in-one headlight restoration kits. You can easily buy the kit from an auto part store. Almost every headlight restoration kit includes sandpaper and polishing compound, but some of the products include a sealant and a new UV-blocking coat. Most of the products can be applied by hand. If you are confused about how to choose the headlight restoration kit, read the headlight restoration kits buying guide.
Another option is using some household items such as toothpaste, microfiber cloth, white vinegar, baking soda, and so on. The effect on lightly damaged lenses looks great – check out what Angelo did to his headlights with toothpaste. However, if you have some tough scratches, or if you are looking for a permanent restoration, I recommend a more complex method with grit sandpaper. We will talk about it step by step.
Steps to Restore Headlights
What you need is taps, grit sandpapers (400, 600, 2000 grade each), water, rubbing alcohol, a big garbage bag, and gloss coat spray. This procedure is based on an awesome video created by ChrisFix on Youtube: How to Restore Headlights Permanently.
Step 1 – Tap around the whole edge of the headlight so that the paint is not scratched.
Step 2 – Spray water on the headlight as well as the 400 grade sandpaper on all surfaces. If your headlight is really yellow and hazy, start with the 400 grade sandpaper. Otherwise, 600 one should work well.
Step 3 – Grit the headlight with the sandpaper in a circular motion, and keep the surface wet by continuing to spray water on it. Do not press very hard with the 400-grade sandpaper because it’s very coarse. Also do not forget to grit the edge. When you see no yellow anymore and only haze created by the 400 sandpaper.
Step 4 – Grit with 600 grade sandpaper. Do it the same way as with the 400, but press a little harder when gritting. When you see a finer plastic headlight, start a horizontal grit until have a smooth surface.
Step 5 – Wipe the headlight with wet paper towel, then move to the 2000 grade sandpaper which is very fine, and can give you a good finish. Start with a swirl motion, then do a horizontal motion. Do not push too hard. Dry with the paper towel.
Step 6 – Apply the rubbing alcohol on paper towel. This way the oil could be removed and make the headlight dry quickly.
Step 7 – Cover your car with a garbage bag to avoid damaging the paint of your car with the coating spray. Then, cut around the edge of the headlight. Tap the garbage bag around the edge of the headlight, then start spraying the gloss coat.
Step 8 – Wipe the headlight again to remove any oil, fingerprints or dirt. Read and follow the instructions when you spray. After sitting for 5 mins, spray on another coat, and repeat after a few minutes. Then wait for 24-hours and see what you’ve got! Don’t forget to remove all the protecting tape!