It is crucial to have clear headlights for a vehicle for reasons such as safety while driving at night and in foggy weather, and increasing its resell value. However, over a period of time, the headlights fade and oxidize which slowly degrades them.
Degradation happens because of oxidation of the lens. The headlight is covered by a clear film and this is diminished by continued exposure to heat and cold, and harmful UV rays. This exposes the porous material, called polycarbonate, thus discoloring it.
For this reason, the headlight needs to be restored to its initial condition. Basically, restoration of a headlight involves removal of the outer layer that is oxidized and then protecting it from immediate oxidation. Restoration can be done in an auto shop by using ready to use chemicals. Similarly, restoration of the headlight can be done using cheap supplies that are readily available in the garage.
The oxidized layer can be removed toothpaste and a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. In both cases, use a sponge to rub the entire headlight surface with it, rinse it off then apply car wax. This in applicable on small scale when oxidation is not very intensive.
In a worst case scenario, restoration of the headlight is done by wet sanding. This process is more intensive and time consuming but the results is worth the input. For best results, we highly suggest using the Meguiar’s G3000 Heavy Duty Headlight Restoration Kit. The restoration procedure involves the following steps:
- Tape up the area around the headlights and cover all the paint that surrounds it Cut the sand paper of 800 grit into quarters. Spray it with water then add a little soap to help keep it lubricated. Lubrication will make the sand paper lasts longer. Slowly start sanding the headlight. Ensure that the sanding is done in one direction and that all the edges and corners are covered. Wipe the surface with a towel will help check if the surface is uniform.
- In place of the 800 grit, use the 1000 grit sand paper. Repeat the above procedure to get a uniform finish. At this stage the headlight will begin clearing up.
- Replace the 1000 grit sandpaper with the 2000 grit sandpaper. Extra care should be taken at this step, especially lubrication. Take extra time in order to get better results. After wiping, the clearance will be more noticeable than during the previous steps.
- This step involves polishing and it removes the scratches from the previous steps thus giving the headlight a new and shiny look. Attach the compound pad on the drill. Spread a descent amount of rubbing compound on the headlight. Turn the drill on and slowly polish the headlight. Increase the speed steadily ensuring that all areas of the headlights are covered. More compound can be added and this process repeated to enhance the polishing.
- This is the final step and it ensures that the headlight is protected from immediate degradation. In this step car wax can be used, or a mixture of urethane and mineral spirit in the ratio 11. Take a towel and dip in it and ensure that there is no excess from the towel. Start at the top of the headlight and move downwards. Apply a nice thin coat and ensure no runs. In case it becomes thick, wet the towel with spirit and clean the coat off and start over. This coat will dry after 4 hours. Note that complete curing takes about 3 days.