Best Headlight Restoration Kit Reviews
See clearly at night when you invest in a headlight lens restoration kit.
Published September 23, 2018
Any vehicle manufactured before the early 1990s used glass for the headlights, but then automakers switched to polycarbonate plastic construction instead. While there are numerous advantages to the newer design, they also tend to get yellow and foggy. That’s why it’s imperative that everyone knows how to find the best headlight restoration kit and how to use it.
While it might seem like a pain to worry about cleaning your headlights, using the plastic is far better than the older glass variety. First of all, they’re more durable. On top of that, they keep the cost of the vehicle down.
Thankfully, using a headlight restoration kit is an easy solution and much cheaper than replacing your headlights. It’s so simple; even a beginner can handle it.
What is a Headlight Restoration Kit?
Inside one of the best headlight restoration kits, you’ll find everything you need to transform your lights back to the visible, effective, and clear beams they once were. Complete kits coming with the sandpaper, polishing agent, and a protectant as well. Some also come with the protective gear you need as well. While there are a few DIY methods out there, using a kit saves a lot of time and the results are far better than what you can do on your own. In fact, one package generally works on about three cars, so it’s well worth the money in the long run.
Why are My Headlights Discolored?
It’s inevitable that your headlights will turn yellow; it’s just part of oxidation. The UV rays shining on your lights damage the casing. Thankfully, a headlight restoration kit goes beyond cleaning the cover, but actually reapplies a UV protected coating which slows down the oxidation process in the future.
Aside from the UV rays, you might also live in a location that deals with rock salt and snow. This eats away the headlight casing as well. Rock salt and road debris are infamous for scratching the headlight cover and creating crevices. If this goes untreated, you might end up needing new headlights completely.
The final reason your headlights might be discolored is because of chemicals used around the vehicle. Insecticides and other chemicals stain and damage the lights. You want to be aware of this when you spray for bugs in your yard. To prevent issues with the headlights, all you need to do is put a tarp over the car before applying anything. You’ll also want to cover it when you run the weed eater or lawn mower. That debris and the airborne particles do a number to your headlights and your paint job.
Can Your Fail State Inspection Because of the Headlights?
Absolutely, but it isn’t common. Many inspectors let you go as long as they meet the requirements. Even if they allow you to pass, your headlights might still be a public safety concern, so you need to consider that.
When the output diminishes enough, you aren’t easily seen by other drivers, wildlife, and pedestrians. It’s not worth getting into an accident over, especially when headlight restoration kits are so affordable and easy to use. The cost you’ll pay when you wreck your car is far more than an investment in one of these kits.
Cleaning the Headlight Lens by Other Means
If you plan to purchase the best headlight restoration kit, simply follow the directions from the manufacturer. If you still choose not to, despite the low price, there are some other options to consider.
Sandpaper – Many people turn to this option first. While they do provide results, there’s a risk involved. If you’re careful, you’ll remove some discoloration. Otherwise, you might remove a layer to the lenses. That’s why we can’t recommend trying this. That doesn’t mean you won’t try it – just be careful what grit paper you use.
Vinegar – Another cheap option to consider. People go this route because vinegar is an all-natural disinfectant. Consumers that want to go green often have this sitting around the house for their normal chores. It does work, and provide meager results on headlights, but you should be prepared to put a lot of elbow grease into it.
Polish – This falls into the same category with vinegar. You’ll have to work hard to make it work, and you might end up with some glare when you’re done. Depending on how severe your discoloration is, you might need to remove the headlight to perform your task properly.
Insect Repellent – While this might sound a little strange, many people swear by it. Simply spray some on with a clean cloth and then wipe it off. This takes less labor than the other options, but it might require you removing your lens again.
How Often Do I Need to Use a Headlight Restoration Kit?
This is a common question when it comes to cleaning headlights. The honest answer is – it all depends on your vehicle. If you live near a gravel pathway, heavily salted roads, or your vehicle sits outside in the elements; you’ll probably find yourself doing it more often. If you aren’t subjecting your vehicle to anything beyond mild conditions, it’s best to use a kit once a year for maintenance purposes.
To get the best results, make sure you do it on a dry, warm day. Don’t try to clean your headlights in the middle of a cold winter or humid day. If you keep up with it yearly, there’s really no reason that you should need to replace your headlights. Considering your only putting out a few bucks a year to keep them clean, it’s well worth the investment and the small amount of time you need to put in.
Advantages of Using a Headlight Restoration Kit
There are numerous reasons why you should consider choosing one of the headlight restoration kits we review. The plastic absorbs things from the environment. Therefore, there’s no possible way to prevent buildup on your headlights over time; it’s going to happen. Here are some things your investment gets you.
Improved Safety – the headlights are essential to your safety on the road. If you don’t see what’s in front of you clearly, you can’t protect yourself. Furthermore, if other people can’t see you, then they are in danger as well. Don’t ignore their need to remain clean so you can drive safely.
Resale Value – If you’ve thought about trading in your car in the future, then you know it must be in optimal shape to get top dollar. Showing up with dirty, spotty headlights just isn’t going to help you seal the deal. Sure, you could wait until you’re ready to sell to attempt cleaning them, but it might be too late. Your best bet is to maintain them, just like you do every other part of your vehicle.
Save Yourself Some Money – If you need new headlights in the future, it’s possible you’re going to have to shell out some serious dough. Utilizing a restoration kit means putting out pocket change in comparison. As with any aspect of your automobile, doing the preventative work is far better than paying for repairs.
Steps for Using a Headlight Restoration Kit
You’ll want to follow all the instructions on the kit you buy, but most of them follow this process.
1 – Prepare your area. You might need to put on some safety gear. Then, prepare the car. Make sure you tape around the headlights to protect the paint.
2 – Do a pre-wash. Clean off the headlights to remove stains, debris, and dirt. If you don’t, you might make scratches when you sand. Most of the time, some soap and water is all you need to get the job done. Just be sure to rinse thoroughly and dry completely.
3 – Sand. This removes scratches that won’t come off with washing or polishing. If you’re dealing with heavily damaged headlights, you’ll want to work with 800-grit sandpaper. Make sure you sand side-to-side while applying even pressure. Also, don’t concentrate on one area for too long. Make sure you wet down the sandpaper so you don’t leave behind heat burns. When you’re done, use fine sandpaper to get any leftover scratches. Make sure you blow away any dust that’s left behind.
4 – Polish. Use the included compound on the lens. Use a microfiber cloth and apply in a circular motion. This should take about ten minutes per lens. If you have a power tool, the process takes less time.
5 – Finish. There may be a few discoloration spots, bumps, or scratches at this point. You might need to soak a 1000-grit piece of sandpaper to lightly sand out those areas. Once they’re gone, you should be done and ready to apply your protectant.
6 – Clean up. Remove your masking tape and give the headlight once last wipe.
Top 10 Headlight Restoration Kits Reviewed
We’ve found the top ten headlight restoration kits available on the market right now. Invest in one of these and you can’t go wrong.
Turtle Wax T-240KT Headlight Lens Restorer Kit
The Turtle Wax restoration kits hit the top of our list because it’s inexpensive and popular among consumers. It’s made only for light or medium-sized restoration projects, so don’t expect this to cut through the glare if you’ve never cleaned your headlights before. This kit is perfect for maintenance and for the cost, it just makes sense.
This kit comes with three restoration pads. Each of them has a different grit from 2400 up to 8000. There’s also an included spray lubricant which allows users to wet sand the lenses. Finally, you’ll use the lens clarifying compound that buffs the fine marks that are often difficult to remove. When all the cleaning is complete, simply use the sealing wipe to give your headlight a layer of additional protection so you don’t need to clean them again anytime soon.
3M 39008 Headlight Lens Restoration System
While we’ll list a total of three different 3M headlight restoration kits, this one made our list first. The best part about this option is that you don’t need to sand your headlights by hand, which becomes tedious labor. Instead, get out your power drill and get your headlights clean. This kit comes with two containers of their polishing compound and a buffing pad.
This product works on all levels of cleaning, from the lightly oxidized to the heavy-duty cleaning jobs. What we don’t like about this kit is that they haven’t included a sealant for some additional protection. If you choose to get this, make sure you add a sealant to your purchase.
Meguiar’s G3000 Heavy Duty Headlight Restoration Kit
If what you want is a Meguiar’s heavy duty headlight restoration kit, we’ve got the best pick for you! It’s been a bestseller on Amazon, and for good reasons. If you need to tackle heavy-duty cleaning, this is the real deal. The sanding discs work well with the applicator pad, or you can utilize the drill pad instead. Once you’ve finished sanding, simply apply the PlastX as a final polish. This helps your headlights receive maximum amounts of clarity.
Then, you’ll be ready to apply the clear coat and admire the fruit of your labor. This kit is on the expensive side, so probably not a good buy if you simply need to maintain your headlights. Instead, consider this purchase if you’ve neglected your lights for too long and you’re hoping for a miracle. This is your best bet.
Mothers 07251 NuLens Headlight Renewal Kit
This kit provides a complete solution and it’s cost effective as well. You can anticipate this cleaning your light, medium, or heavy-duty oxidation on your headlights. We especially like the included buffing pad which seems to do an exceptional job with the polishing.
In addition, they provide their backing plate complete with Velcro which attaches to your corded or cordless drill. This cuts down your labor time significantly. Work with the sandpaper and tackle all your headlight challenges with ease. Then, apply their PowerPlastic polishing compound to see the shine you’ve been waiting for. When you’re done, they’ve included a sealant in the kit to further protect the lights from future issues. That means you’ll have to clean them less often.
SYLVANIA – Headlight Restoration Kit
Our list wouldn’t be complete without a Sylvania headlight restoration kit. For those that choose to do things the old-fashioned way, this option won’t let you down because it comes with everything you need. Inside the box, you’ll find the sandpaper, gloves, microfiber cloths, polishing compound, cleaning liquid, masking tape, and protective clear coating compound as well.
Simply follow the steps and you’ll remove all light to medium-sized levels of oxidation. This kit is ideal for beginners that want to tackle the project themselves, and you’ll like the price as well. With all those excellent reviews, you just can’t go wrong.
Blue Magic 730-6 Headlight Lens Sealer
While this isn’t a full headlight restoration kit, it does deserve a spot on our list. This single product works best for clearing the headlights in between your scheduled restorations. It allows you to go a little longer in between to save money and time.
The compound is also effective and filling in your small cracks for a clearer view. You’ll want to use it when you polish the headlights and whenever you feel they need a little TLC. Simply grab a clean cloth and rub in the spray gently. This bottle should last you several years which is great considering the price. In fact, we believe every garage should have a bottle on hand.
Wipe New HDL6PCMTRRT Headlight Restore Kit
This kit comes complete with two microfiber cloths, a pre-soaked WipeNew towel, instructions, rubber gloves, and a sanding block that contains two different grits on either side. While it doesn’t have the same polishing and protective aspects that some other kits include, we think it’s a promising product; especially if you’re only dealing with mild to medium grades of fogging.
The included towel is heavily saturated, so you’ll have enough to complete four headlights with ease. With this option, you might need to sand, so it’s a nice kit for a novice user. The chemicals included on the towel wipe out all dullness and fill out the small scratches as well. Because the compounds are strong, it’s good to wear the gloves they’ve included.
We don’t recommend this kit for heavy-duty jobs but it’s perfect for small or medium-sized restoration. With that said, it doesn’t hurt to have this kit on hand whenever you need some cleaning.
3M 39165 Headlight Restoration Kit
This five-step kit from 3M is affordable and good for heavy-duty projects. It’s simple to use and comes with your sanding discs, polishing compound, polishing pads, tape, and protectant. This DIY solution shouldn’t take more than an hour to complete, even as a beginner. What’s important to note is that you won’t think the lenses are smooth enough until you reach that final grit sandpaper, so don’t panic. Once the job is complete, however, you’ll be thrilled with the results.
The polishing compound excels at clearing out the dullness and restoring shine. If your headlights are extremely dull, prepare to put a little extra work in to get the job done right. Once it’s completed, you’ll only have to maintain your headlights from here on out.
3M 39045 Headlight Renewal Kit with Protectant
As a final option from 3M, this headlight renewal kit also offers a five-step process that should take under an hour. Everything is included in the package other than the drill you’ll need. Make sure you use the included masking tape while restoring to avoid any damage to your car’s paint.
Once you’ve completed the process, there won’t be any discoloration, dullness, or scratches left. Then, add the polishing compound to restore some more luster to your lights. Not only is this kit complete, but it’s easy enough for anyone to use.
Meguiar’s G1900K Headlight and Clear Plastic Restoration Kit
If you want headlights that look like new, you owe it to yourself to give these a try. It restores your cloudy, oxidized, yellowed, and scratched lights with ease. The box contains an easy-buff wool pad for your standard drill, a bottle of PlastX cleaner and polish, finishing and sanding pads, plus the Stubborn Defect Removal Pack.
You can use this on your headlights, taillights, helmet visors, boat windows, motorcycle windscreens, or any other uncoated plastic surface for a clearer view.
Every automobile owner should care about having clear and clean headlights. With yellow, scratched, dull, and old headlights, your nighttime visibility is diminished to the point that safety becomes a concern. With a simple headlight restoration kit, you can make them shine like new again, most of the time in under an hour.
Finding the best headlight restoration kit is the hard part. With our extensive reviews above, you should find the product that works best for your level of expertise and the amount of cleaning you need to do. Before you head out, make sure you also use the best windshield cleaner. Then, it’s time to get back on the road with better visibility.