Tag Archives: buffing headlights

  • How to Restore Car Headlights

    Out of all minor automotive restoration projects, restoring your headlights is among the most important. After years of use, headlights can get cloudy, rendering their effectiveness much weaker and therefore more dangerous. This is why it is important to restore them to their original clear state in order to ensure your safety as a driver. Below, we discuss the best ways to clean and restore your vehicle's headlights.

    Different Methods of Restoration

    Cloudy headlights can affect just about any time of car make and model, from foreign to domestic. With headlight restoration, you can get rid of this cloudiness by cleaning the headlight lenses with headlight cleaner kits or with individual basic items found at an auto parts supply store. This will save you the expense of full replacements, and it is a quick and simple process.

    There are a number of different ways you can restore your headlights. For one, purchasing a Headlight Deoxidizer and applying to your headlights can be a fast option, as can using simple toothpaste, but these options are for immediate results for minor fixes and do not equal the quality of a thorough restoration. The two main methods we are focusing on today are using a glass cleaning solution method and a more thorough masking tape and sandpaper method.

    Using a Glass Cleaning Solution

    Here is what you will need for the glass cleaning method of restoration: glass cleaning solution, lint-free polishing cloth, car polish, car wax and a rotary buffer. This method is very simple and only requires a few steps. First off, if there is moisture on the inside of the glass, you must carefully remove the headlight lens from the car and let it dry before cleaning. If the damage is on the outside of the headlight, take your glass cleaning solution and spray it on the outside lens. Use a polishing cloth to thoroughly wipe the solution around and off of the lens to completely clean it. Make sure to not apply this solution in direct sunlight to avoid further spottiness or cloudiness. Again, if the damage is on the inside, repeat this step for the inside of the lens as well.

    Now, take some car polish and apply it to the outside of the lens. Make sure the polish has a very fine abrasive in it to lightly grind away at any accumulated dust, dirt or grime. Finally, use your rotary buffer to work in the polish, and apply a final car wax to the headlight to make the cleaning/repair last longer. Now, you have successfully restored your car headlight.

    Using Masking Tape and Sandpaper

    Here is what you will need for the sandpaper method of restoration: masking tape, simple soap and water, 600-grit sandpaper, 1200-grit sandpaper, 2000-grit sandpaper, 2500-grit sandpaper, multiple lint-free polishing cloths, plastic lens cleaner, plastic polish and car wax. The first thing to do is use your masking tape to make a protective tape border around the headlight to protect your vehicle's finish. Then, take your 600-grit sandpaper, and dip it into a bucket of light, soapy water. Lightly rub the fine sandpaper on the front of the headlight lens to clean any adhesive debris or grime off of the surface. Spray some plastic lens cleaner onto the headlight, and use a polishing cloth to evenly wipe around the cleaning solution.

    The next thing to do is remove the headlight's oxidation. Take another polishing cloth, dip one finger of it into your plastic polish, and with the lens still wet from the cleaner, apply the polish evenly across the entire headlight. Now, take your sandpaper from before, dip it into more soapy water, and begin to sand evenly from side to side across the headlight to work in the polish. Continue this sanding process with the 1200, 2000 and 2500-grit sandpapers, consecutively, making sure to get rid of any minor scratches left from the previous coarser grits. Apply another layer of the plastic polish, let it sit for a minute, then buff it with another polishing cloth.

    After cleaning the headline with soap and water to remove any excess polish residue, it is time to wax. Take a polishing cloth, and apply a quarter-sized amount of car wax to it, letting it sink into the cloth for several seconds. Apply the wax to the outside of the lens using a single stroke method gradually from left to right, top to bottom. Once all of the wax is completely worked into the headlight and the lens is completely clear and shiny, consider it restored.

    To learn more about car headlights and for various DIY car tutorials, be sure to visit Eastwood.com.

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  • I have seen the light! (Or why it's getting harder to)

    Many auto manufacturers switched to making your headlight lenses out of plastic sometime in the early 80's. They are cheaper to make, less mess if there is an accident, and lighter weight. This is all well and good when the vehicle is new.. but after years of abuse from mother nature, UV rays, and road salt, rocks, etc., they begin to haze. In some cases they even begin to yellow! This is going to greatly reduce the light output from your headlights at night or in adverse weather conditions. This is the time of year where many places in the world are getting shorter amounts of daylight, and we are needing to use our headlights more frequently. Nothing is worse than having to get closer to the windshield to see the road better at night, or during bad weather!

    What we've found is that by using a quality polishing compound like Autosol, and a good buffing wheel, you can restore those plastic lenses back to a crystal clear appearance. They can easily look like new again (if now only you could do the same for your interior!). You will be amazed at how much of a difference it makes with just a few minutes of work. You can do the polishing with the lights on the car, and all you need is a handheld drill with our Eastwood Headlight Restoration Kit to do the job.

    Check out this little video we whipped together to show how easy it is. After you do your lenses, you will really start to notice how many cars on the road have foggy plastic headlights!

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