It doesn’t matter the make or model. Car, truck, semi, motorcycle, boat, aircraft, snowmobile… if it has a headlight covered by a plastic or acrylic cover, we’re all in the same boat. Time, weather and everyday wear and tear turns those once shiny headlights into yellowed, fogged unsightly blobs on the front of your ride. And if was just about looks, that would be one thing, but that yellowing fog on the lens seriously reduces the effectiveness of your headlights. The longer it sits and the worse it gets, the more likely it is that you can overdrive your headlights. That… is dangerous.
The biggest problem, as it is for most plastics and acrylics, are the UV rays from the sun. There’s no getting around it. That daily UV bombardment slowly breaks down the top layer of your headlight lens and as it does so, it darkens and roughens the surface, making it tougher for light to pass through. Oddly enough, the understanding of the problem also points to the solution!
Starting To Fix It
Before you can hope to bring those foggy headlamps back to life, the first thing to do is remove what nature has caused. That eroded top layer of plastic has got to go. To begin the process of restoration, you’ll want to evenly roughen and remove the damaged plastic. Your best friend in this process is either a 1000 to 2000 grit scrub pad or 1000 to 2000 grit sandpaper. Lightly and evenly roughen the entire surface of the lens. To avoid accidentally scratching trim or paint, masking the edges with tape is a very good idea.
You might be tempted to go after that damaged plastic with a heavier grit sandpaper, but don’t do it. This is one of those cases where more is not better. 1000 to 2000 grit will be more than enough to remove the corrupted top layer and roughen the surface. Once you’ve got the surface done, give it a wash and dry to remove any remaining contaminants. As you stand back and look at your headlight, you’re going to say what everyone says the first time; “Now it looks even worse!” And that’s okay.
Shine Shine Shine
It’s polishing time. Polishing the plastic will smooth out the roughing you’ve done and fill in the micro-crevices in the plastic so that light is not interrupted on its way out to the road. A good plastic polish is what you need and Flitz Paste Polish is your best choice here. Don’t fall for the “toothpaste” fix or any of the other home remedies you’ll find on the internet. Yes, toothpaste does have an abrasive component, but it won’t do the polishing part. Yes, your headlight will smell minty fresh, but it’s not a long-term fix.
Working on a small manageable area, apply a thin film of polish and rub it into the plastic lens. Then with either a buffer or a sturdy microfiber, buff the area back to a high shine. As with polishing anything, it will require a bit of elbow grease. To make things go faster we recommend one of our Flitz Buff Balls. They fit on any 3/8” drill and are self-cooling, so you never have to worry about scorching the plastic.
And that’s pretty much all there is to it. Repeat the process on the whole lens and then move on to the next one. If your first round of polish doesn’t get you where you want to be, a second application of polish and some more buffing will bring even the most tired lenses back to life.
With or without one of our Buff Balls, restoring your headlamps is a bit of work, but oh so worth it. Not only have you saved a ton of money on a full lens replacement, you’ll be driving a lot safer at night.
Make It Last
Is there a way to keep from having to do this so often? Yup. If you’ve used Flitz Polish on that lens you’ve got additional protection that will last up to three months depending on your driving conditions. For longer lasting protection, an application of Flitz Ceramic Sealant will extend that protection for up to a full year! If your car is garaged during the day, even longer!
If you’ve got a lot of vehicles, we’ve put together a convenient headlight restoration kit that has everything you need to get the job done for up to 10 headlights. Plus, it’ll save you money in the process!
Well, that’s about it. Good luck restoring those headlights. Don’t wait too long, your safety matters! Also remember that we’re always here to help. If you’ve got questions, drop a note to email@example.com and we’ll be happy to assist!