Headlight restoration is taking an old hazy headlight and making it look like new again. Over time the plastic housing on our headlights turn yellow and it affects the look, safety, and value of the car. This post about DIY Headlight Restoration for Under $30 will give you everything you need to know to take your headlights from this
DIY Headlight Restoration for Under $30
We'll need some supplies to accomplish this task. I picked up everything you see here at my local Home Depot for under $30. If you don't mind waiting, Amazon is a cheaper option. Just click on the material to be taken to Amazon.
- Spray Bottle
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Paper Towels (I used shop towels – less lint)
- Clear Coat (Rated for plastic, and UV resistant)
- Sandpaper – 220 Grit (Be sure to use sandpaper that can be used for wet sanding)
- Sandpaper – 400 Grit
- Sandpaper – 2000 Grit
Now that we've got materials let's get started. The easiest way to do this is to take your whole headlight housing out of the car and bring it inside. If your headlights are too hard to remove we'll have to tape around the rubber seals and tape a plastic trash bag over your hood and bumper. To avoid over spray from the clear coat.
- Grab your spray bottle and get the entire plastic front of the headlight housing wet.
- Using the lowest sandpaper grit that you purchased we're going to wet sand the housing. When using the first sandpaper be sure to let the grit do the work. Too much pressure will cause deep scratches and will take more clear coat to cover.
- Use circular motions at first. After the headlight starts to develop a kind of milky yellow film, spray it down again and sand in a horizontal motion. This will prevent the clear coat from dripping later on.
- Wipe off all the hazy film with a paper towel.
- Step up your sandpaper grit and repeat steps 3 and 4. Do this for the 220, 300, and 2000 grit sandpaper.
- After you've worked through all three sandpapers, use a paper towel to wipe it off one more time.The plastic of the housing will be scratched up – don't worry this is what we want. The clear coat will fill the scratches.
- Use a clean paper towel and rubbing alcohol to wipe down the housing. Allow to dry for a couple minutes. This cleans off any oils from your hands and ensures a completely dry surface.
- Shake up your clear coat and spray it directly on the try plastic. Be sure to do this very lightly as to avoid dripping. The first coat will appear bumpy. We're going to do 3 coats.
- Allow the first coat to dry for a couple minutes. If you're impatient like I am, you can use a hair dryer to speed this process up.
- Repeat for the 2nd and 3rd coat.
Now your headlight should look something like this. Pop it back into the car and you're all set. The clear coat sets completely in 24 hours. If you notice that the coating is a little opaque, this is normal. Within 24 hours it will dry clear.
Now essentially you have the same coating on your headlights as the paint on the car. The clear coat needs to be protected for the first 24 hours, this simply means no car washes or scrubbing of the lights. After it's all the way dry, you can apply your favorite car wax to the lights to help maintain the clarity of the lens and to prevent flaking.
There we have it. Headlight restoration for under $30. Having your lights clear again not only makes you safer but it makes the car look better and increases the value. $30 is way cheaper than buying new headlight lenses or whole housings. Now get out there and take your new lights for a spin!