How to Restore Your Plastic Headlights and Keep Them Lit

How to Restore Your Plastic Headlights and Keep Them Lit

Headlights are one of the most important safety features of your car. Not only do they allow you to see the road and what’s around you, but they also allow other drivers to see you. Without them, you really are driving blind – especially when it’s at night or in severe weather conditions.

It’s important to make sure they’re always kept clean, well maintained and in good working order so that you can continue to drive safely and clearly see the way ahead. But what happens once they start to deteriorate and have trouble functioning properly?

Here at Stud Road Panels, we’re passionate about restoring cars and breathing new life into your vehicle. Here are our tips on how to restore plastic headlights, how to keep them clear and keep them well lit.

How to Make Headlights Clear Again

Typically headlamp lenses are made with polycarbonate plastic which is protected with a UV-resistant film. However, over time this protective film wears away due to sun exposure – and your headlamps may become discoloured, yellow and dull, and start to haze over a little.

This is due to the process of oxidation, which is what naturally happens when oxygen combines when the plastic and changes its appearance. Your lamps also operate at high temperatures – and this heat can further contribute to the process.

However, the good news is that there’s an easy fix for this if you’re wondering how to restore your plastic headlights – and it will take you less than an hour. No matter how cloudy or discoloured they are, there’s a simple maintenance routine you can carry out yourself at home. We’re here to tell you how.

After all, regularly cleaning and restoring your headlamps is much cheaper than having to replace them altogether.

Headlight Reconditioning 101

When cleaning your headlight lenses, there are a few simple things you’re going to need. There’s a variety of restoration kits available on the market. Otherwise, you can usually gather a few things together at home:

  • – Soft microfibre cloth
  • – Sandpaper (with various levels of grit)
  • – Polishing compound
  • – Car wax
  • – UV sealant
  • – Blue painter’s tape

Once you have all of these together and a clean workspace to work in, you’re ready to get started.

How to Make Your Headlights Clear

Here are some quick, easy steps to follow as a guide. It’s so simple that you can do this yourself at home in your own garage.

Note: It’s best to only work on one lamp at a time:

  1. Prepare the area: First you’ll want to give the lamp’s lens a good wash with some soapy water, along with the surrounding area. Then, either remove the light and place it in an isolated workspace – or use the painter’s tape to seal off the area, making sure to fully cover all the surfaces surrounding the lamp. This is going to protect your paintwork and the rest of your car from any little accidental scratches from the sandpaper, just in case your hand slips.
  2. Sanding: To remove the oxidised plastic from the lens, take the most abrasive piece of sandpaper (1000 grit), wet it a little and carefully begin to sand the outer lens in a horizontal direction. It’s crucial to keep the surface wet as you work, otherwise you might damage and scratch the lens – and keeping the sandpaper wet also means it won’t get all gummy with old oxidised plastic.
  3. Work Your Way Up: Gradually work your way through the less abrasive sand paper and switch from 2000 to 3000 grit – this time in a diagonal motion. Remember to keep cleaning and wetting the surface in between sandpaper changes. Depending how heavily oxidised your lenses are, you may have to repeat this process to remove the layers of discolouration. See how you go.
  4. Polish: Wipe off and dry the surface of the lens. Squeeze a little polish onto your microfibre cloth, then rub onto the lamp in a circular motion using firm pressure – then buff with a second cloth. Afterwards, apply some car wax to the outer layer for a smooth, beautiful finish.
  5. UV Sealant: Take your UV sealant and apply this to the surface of the light using a wet piece of paper towel. Only use one layer, then allow it to dry and cure after you’re done. This will protect your headlamp and keep it clear. It also replaces the oxidised sealant that you’ve sanded away, which turned the surface cloudy and yellow.

Once the process is complete, your headlamps will be as good as new in no time. If it hasn’t quite worked, simply repeat the process – it may be that the oxidation hasn’t fully been worn away.

Can You Use Coke or Toothpaste?

It’s not a totally crazy question, as these everyday household products are often used to clean grit off dirty surfaces. However, you’ll get a much better result if you use traditional car care products

Get Your Car Looking its Best

When it comes to restoring your car, you can trust the expert team here at Stud Road Panels. We are passionate about providing you with a range of professional panel beating, auto refurbishing and smash repair services.

We only use high-quality parts and components as part of our bumper and light repairs, so you know your car will continue to look its best and go the distance for your total peace of mind.

Our experts are here to help. If you have any further questions, get in touch with us on (03) 9792 4913, or visit us at our Balmoral Avenue body shop in Dandenong.


Book your appointment now and get $5 discount.


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