How To Restore Your Hazy Headlights To Their Original Brightness

If you thought the elements were hard on your paint, consider what they do to your headlights, too. Gradually dimming headlights caused by yellowed, fogged, or otherwise occluded casings can be hard to spot at first, because the light level is reduced over such a long period of time that your brain gets used to the ‘new normal.’ That is why you should know how to restore your headlights.

Rest assured, however, that after a few years of slogging through slushy winters and being pelted by the harsh UV rays of the sun, your headlights aren’t as bright as they used to – and that’s putting you at risk during night driving, making it harder for other motorists to see you and of course reducing your own ability to spot obstacles like wildlife and pedestrians in the darkness.

If you’ve noticed that your own headlights have hazed over, don’t worry: chances are you won’t have to buy an all-new set. There are a number of products and methods out there on the market that can help restore your lights to their original splendour, and at a surprisingly affordable cost.

Polish, Polish, Polish

The vast majority of modern car headlight covers – the clear bubble that protects the lenses and bulbs – are made out of plastic, which is stronger and less likely to shatter than glass in an accident. While this might also make them more prone to sun and salt damage, it also means they are very easy to polish.

How can polishing bring your headlights back from the dim, yellowy grave? The same polish that you use on your paint to remove the dull level of oxidation in your clear coat is also capable of gently grinding away the opaque plastic sitting on top of your headlight lens. Once that’s been swirled out of the picture, the transparent layer is revealed once more, allowing much more light to shine through with no damage done to the lens cover itself.

Go With A Kit, Or Do-It-Yourself

There are a number of different ways to tackle the headlight polish problem. You might be surprised to learn that one of the most popular ‘home remedies’ is to slather them with toothpaste and then rub it in with a cloth like you would any other polish. The silica – which is just another word for grains of sand – that is a part of most toothpaste does a good job of removing surface haze while being minimally abrasive to the clear layer of the lens, and is easily rinsed off afterward (with bonus points for the minty smell).

If you’d like to try something a little more aggressive, then a traditional car polish applied in the same manner will also work. For those who would prefer to minimize the amount of elbow grease, however, there are several different headlight restoration kits that come with the polish/paste and polish pads required to get the job done, all in one box. Some even feature a rotating foam polishing ball that you can attach to a power drill to get from cloudy to clear even more quickly.

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If you’ve got a power polisher of your own – such as a random-orbit unit – you can of course tag that in to help, too (as long as you aren’t concerned with making a bit of a mess from the polish being thrown across the front of your car).

Quick, Easy, And Safer

Chances are you won’t spend more than 45 minutes in total polishing your headlights back to their original brightness, which is a small time investment to make given the safety benefits associated with having a clear and unobstructed view of the road ahead. This is on top of how much better your car will look with its like-new headlights taking the place of the older, yellowed pair it was wearing just beforehand.

Regular care and cleaning can help you extend the life of your vehicle’s headlights and save you significant money on replacement lenses down the road, so before you place an order for a new set make sure you try a quick and inexpensive cleaning job. You might be shocked by the results.

Check out all our products available on or trust one of our 600 NAPA AUTOPRO shops for routine maintenance and repairs. For more advices on how to restore your headlights, chat with an expert at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.

By Benjamin Hunting

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