Over time, headlights will develop a haze that allows less light through the outside lens. This can become hazardous when driving at night or in poor visibility conditions. As an alternative to buying new expensive headlights, there is a simple way to restore a vehicle’s existing headlights. The process involves using two stages of sanding to remove the built-up, yellow film.
To restore your headlight you will need safety glasses, gloves, 80 grit sandpaper sheet, 120 grit sandpaper sheet, glass cleaner, car wax/polish, four microfiber cloths, a small bucket and water.
Begin the restoration process by spraying one of the headlights with glass cleaner. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the headlight thoroughly. Repeat this process until the headlight is clean to the touch. Be sure there is no dirt or debris on the headlight. Use a dry microfiber cloth to dry the headlight.
Fill a small bucket with plain tap water. Wet the headlight with plain tap water. Next, tear a whole sheet of 80 grit sandpaper in half. Take this half sheet and fold it in half. Make sure that the fold exposes the rough side of the sandpaper to the outside. Submerge the sandpaper in water.
At this time, put on a pair of gloves to keep your hands clean in later steps. Take the sandpaper from the water and begin sanding the headlight. Apply light pressure to the headlight with the piece of sandpaper. Most headlights have small dimples that come off the headlight, so be sure not to sand down these dimples.
Use a horizontal or vertical scrubbing pattern to slowly sand away the first layer of yellow film. If you start by sanding in an up-down pattern, do not vary with left and right sanding or vice versa. This is to ensure a clean wear pattern throughout the entire process. Varying the sanding pattern will result in possible headlight damage.
Continue to sand in the chosen pattern until the entire headlight is foggy white in color. This may appear as if the damage is worse, however, this is just the start of the solution. Use a dry microfiber cloth to wipe away any water before beginning the next step. This also allows for any missed sanded areas to be seen and fixed.
Next, use 120 grit sandpaper to sand the headlight. This will get rid of the foggy texture left from the first sanding process. Rewet the headlight and submerge the sandpaper. Sand the headlight in the same pattern as before. Sand the headlight until there are few or no scratch marks from the sandpaper.
With the final sanding step complete, the headlight must once again be cleaned. Wipe down the headlight with a dry microfiber cloth.
Apply a small portion of Turtle Wax polish on a damp microfiber sponge. Use the sponge to rub in the wax in small circular motions. This is to fill in any small scratches made by the sandpaper. Do this until the entire headlight has a light layer of wax on it.
Let the wax dry for about five minutes, then wipe down the headlight with a clean microfiber cloth. The headlight should appear to be much clearer than before. Sometimes, the sanding process must be repeated for best results.