If you want to remedy cloudy headlights on your car, you’ll want to go for the best headlight restoration kit to avoid potential damage and excessive abrasion to the plastic. Many different headlight restoration kits are available, and some can be purchased in multi-packs so you can fix multiple cars.
Headlight restoration kits are typically used on headlights, taillights, and other types of lights found on vehicles. Even the best headlight restoration kit is much cheaper than purchasing a new headlight, and often the kits require only a few steps to achieve shining results.
What Is A Headlight Restoration Kit?
A headlight restoration kit is a collection of materials that are designed to take dull and dingy headlights and restore them to a like-new level of shine. There are different methods that kits use to achieve this, but often they resort to surface activators, buffing agents, and protective topcoats.
The best headlight restoration kit will likely require the user to perform a few steps in order to achieve the best result, but the process can typically be completed in about an hour and will last for several months to several years depending on conditions.
Headlight restoration kits come in different sizes, so there is enough material to do at least two headlights, but some kits come with additional materials so more headlights can be restored. If you have headlights, directional lights, fog lights, or other auxiliary lighting outside of your vehicle that needs refreshing, more than one kit might be more suitable.
Using A Headlight Restoration Kit
Before deciding to use a headlight restoration kit, you'll want to examine your headlights and assess how cloudy they are and if there is any other damage. Damage to the headlights on a car are generally the result of UV damage from sunlight, which can be more of a problem in areas that are warmer or get more sun each year.
Cloudy headlights can also be a safety issue, so if your headlights are so hazy that light is having trouble shining through effectively, it's time to try a restoration method which can potentially increase headlight effectiveness by up to 80%.
The level of cloudiness on your vehicle may also be due to the make or model, and whether or not your car is garage kept or has spent considerable time in an uncovered area. Headlight restoration kits typically use slightly different methods for restoring headlights, and some are more heavy duty for more heavily clouded headlights.
Some headlight kits will come with everything you need in order to perform the complete restoration, but some will require that you have some accessories on hand. Electric buffers are a standard tool that is nice to have but isn't needed if you want stunning results.
Other products may require you to have a tool on hand such as a drill, while others will provide hand-held applicators or require no hard scrubbing at all. Some kits are performed with only your gloved hands, and these typically use harsher chemicals or more physical effort on the part of the user.
Ten Recommended Headlight Restoration Kits
Regardless of which product from our list that you choose, the chances are good that you'll see a considerable improvement in the cloudiness of your headlights, and many lenses can be completely restored to look like new.
If you regularly park your car in a sunny or uncovered area, you may need to refresh your headlights every so often in order to retain optimal lens clarity. As a general rule, the longer your car is out in the sun, the sooner the cloudiness will return to your headlights.
3M 39008 Headlight Lens Restoration System
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The 3M Headlight Lens Restoration system can be used on:
This kit comes with everything you need to remove scratches and restores cloudy headlights using the 3M three-step process. This process can be completed in about an hour and is best performed with the use of a drill. One pack is enough to restore two lenses and features multiple sanding discs.
This kit also includes masking tape to protect the painted surfaces surrounding the lens you intend to restore. The first step for using this kit is to put tape around the headlight lens to protect the surrounding area, and then attach the first sanding disc to the sanding attachment that you can connect to a drill if you wish.
If you prefer to do it by hand, you can skip the sanding attachment and complete the sanding process. 3M provides users the choice of a scratch remover and rubbing compound to get the maximum amount of shine possible on the lens before applying the wax protectant with a soft lint-free cloth.
By using a wax-based protectant, you can easily remove the top layer and rebuff the lens if needed. The wax layer is easily removed and can be applied a second time if needed. This kit retails for $10.50, and an instructional video for how to use this kid is available on the 3M website.
SYLVANIA - Headlight Restoration Kit
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The Sylvania headlight restoration kit retails for $20 and features a three-step process that starts with a surface activator before a round of sanding and polishing. The final step involves applying a clear coat material that blocks UV rays for a longer lasting restoration.
This kit has a lifetime warranty and includes enough material to restore two headlight lenses. Once you complete the restoration according to the instructions, it is guaranteed for the rest of the time that you have your vehicle.
The surface activator works by softening the plastic of the lens so it can be appropriately smoothed for a longer lasting restoration. This process is slightly different than some of the other kits that merely rely on sanding to smooth the lens.
Customers can also purchase the UV block clear coat separately from this kit for any touch-ups or as preventative maintenance on a newer vehicle. It is estimated that using this kit to restore cloudy headlights fully should take about thirty minutes.
This kit is also made to provide longer lasting results than other kits, and users report that their headlights are still very clear and new looking well over a year after they went through the restoration process. When using this kit, it's recommended that you do the work in a shaded area, and a drill is not required to achieve optimal results.
Meguiar's G1900K Headlight and Clear Plastic Restoration Kit
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Meguiar's is well known for producing high-quality car care products, and their headlight restoration kit that only requires one step is highly rated online by thousands of users. This kit boasts that it can restore yellowed, oxidized, and scratched lenses until they look like new.
This kit comes with a wool pad that can be attached to a standard household drill. By using the drill, users are able to get a higher degree of clarity out of the lens and also have more control during the restoration process. This kit can be used on all kinds of lights including tail lights, headlights, windscreens, visors, boat windows, and other plastic surfaces that are uncoated.
Included in this kit are the wool pad, plastic cleaner, and a pack of sanding and finishing pads specially designed to remove defects and provide the smoothest surface possible. To use this kit, you’ll first buff the area with the wool pad connected to your drill and then apply a small amount of the PlastX polish to the same pad.
You’ll want to start slowly and increase the speed of the drill over time so as not to overheat the surface. Once you are satisfied with the restoration, you can clean the product from the lens before it can dry. At this point, you can decide if you're done or if you want to take an extra step and apply headlight protectant which is sold separately.
The headlight protectant is optional, but it can help repel UV rays which will quickly yellow and cloud your headlights within a few months to a year. The PlastX material contains polymers that will repel water and some oxidation, but the protectant is much more suited for maintaining long-term restoration.
Wipe New Headlight Restore Kit
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The Wipe New headlight restore kit includes a single wipe that claims it can clear your headlight in only seconds and the effects will last for several years. This kit retails for around $11, and one kit is enough to clear one pair of headlights which comes with a guarantee that the effect will last for the remaining life of your vehicle.
This kit clears headlight lenses using three different steps. Wipe New recommends that users start with a clean and dry lens by wiping it thoroughly with the two-sided polishing pad. This pad helps to remove oxidation and also polishes the surface to a very fine grain.
The next step is to wipe the lens and dry it thoroughly which should result in a completely restored surface. These results are intended to be long-lasting as the actual surface of the headlight is changed and altered to be smooth.
In this kit, there is one wipe infused with a proprietary Wipe New cleaning agent, one professional grade polishing bad, a microfiber towel for drying, and a pair of nitrile gloves to protect the user’s hands. This product won the SEMA Global Media Award in 2014 as an innovative product that was “fundamentally unique.”
One thing that is left out of the instructions for this kit that users widely report is that to polish the headlight lens there is quite a bit of scrubbing involved and far more effort is required than just a light wipe of the surface. To get the best result you’ll need to physically buff out the imperfections and pitting on the surface of the lens.
Mothers NuLens Headlight Renewal Kit
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The Mothers NuLens Headlight Renewal Kit comes with a variety of polishing pads, a drill attachment, and a polishing tool for professional-grade restoration results. To use this kit, you’ll need to have a traditional homeowner grade drill, and about an hour to complete the process. This kit retails for $20 and can be purchased as a six pack on Amazon for $125.
This all in one kit claims to fully restore the surface of your headlight lens by smoothing it entirely using a series of polishing methods. The first step is to prep the area by ensuring it is clean. You'll want to mount the polishing tool on your drill and apply a small amount of the Power Plastic Polish to the device.
It's recommended that before you begin polishing your headlight that you tape off the area around it to protect the paint. This kit does not include the painter’s tape like other kids or the drill. Once the area is taped off, you can begin polishing by starting with a slow speed and working up to higher speeds.
This kit also comes with several other restoration discs that can be mounted to a backing plate for more aggressive polishing and a smoother surface for more damaged lenses. Once all of the polishing is completed, you can remove the polishing substance with a microfiber towel and buff it gently to a high shine.
The microfiber kit is not included in this kit, and you may need to do several rounds of polishing to get all of the imperfections buffed out. The Power Plastic Polish included in this kit leaves a layer of polymer that is designed to protect the surface, resist oxidation, and guard against elements that may cause further damage.
3M 39084 Headlight Restoration Kit
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The 3M Headlight Restoration Kit is one of the many available in the 3M product line, and this one promises advanced restoration on headlights, taillights, directional lights, fog lights, and other auxiliary lighting on your vehicle. This kit includes several sanding discs for removing imperfections and a polishing pad that can be used with compound for a shiny finish.
Unlike other kits, this restoration kit claims that the whole process can be completed by hand and that there are no power tools required in order to get a professional and high-quality results. This kit contains masking tape for protecting painted areas, Trizact sanding discs for precision resurfacing, polishing pads, and polish.
Customers can also choose to purchase this kit with an attachment that can be used with a household drill, but the rest of the items in the kit are the same. This kit uses an advanced rubbing compound to fully clear the lens surface before finishing it off with a light coat of wax that is synthetic and designed to protect the finished result.
The Trizact abrasives in this kit are unique because they are considered to be ultra-fine which means that users can apply them and not have to worry about putting scratches into the surface of their lens. The Trizact abrasives feature small structures that are 3-dimensional and evenly spread across the entire surface of a sanding disc.
Given the level of precision in creating these mineral-based structures, it's not surprising that there are multiple layers of them on a single pad to ensure that there is even abrasiveness for the entirety of the restoration process.
These high-tech abrasives are known to stay sharper longer than conventional sanding discs, and also smooth away imperfections faster and with greater control. The minerals on these discs are so fine that they can remove items such as dirt, haze, and other small scratches without causing additional damage to the lens surface that doesn’t need restoration.
3M 39165 Headlight Restoration Kit- Heavy Duty
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The 3M Heavy Duty Headlight Restoration Kit is designed to be used with a household drill and used on headlights, fog lights, directional lights, and taillights that have more severe damage than may otherwise be expected.
This kind of damage can be from the car sitting uncovered in a sunny place for extended periods or can also be from driving in areas where particulate in the air has sandblasted the lenses. Regardless of how the damage was incurred, this kit features specialized sanding discs, a polishing pad, and a specific polishing compound for a professional finish.
This kit retails for $34 and includes enough product to restore one set of lights with one application. Included are multiple sanding discs with different grits:
This kit also contains painters' tape for protecting the painted areas around the lens and a protective synthetic wax compound to preserve the restoration long-term. To use this kit, you’ll first want to start by applying the tape around the lens you wish to restore and setting up your drill with the lowest grit of sanding disc on the drill attachment.
The sanding pads included in this kit are also Trizact abrasives which means that they are incredibly delicate and gentle on the surface of your lens without causing additional damage to parts of the lens that isn't cloudy. By using multiple grits of sanding discs, you'll be able to save time on the restoration process, and sanding will be easier.
The first round of sanding is just to remove any yellowed material and large surface defects that are visible. After that round of sanding, you'll move to finer grits that reduce finer scratches and further refine the surface. Lastly, you’ll want to polish the whole lens to remove the finest level of scratches using the rubbing compound which will help get that shiny finish.
The last step is to clear away the rubbing compound and apply the synthetic wax that acts as a protectant. Since this kit is designed for heavy-duty restorations, users can expect the restoration process to take a bit longer than with kits designed for less damaged headlights.
Meguiar's Two Step Headlight Restoration Kit
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Meguiar’s Two Step Headlight Restoration kit retails for $18 and provides a year of protection to your lenses once the restoration is complete. There are only two steps to using this kit, and a drill is not required for the process.
This kit contains a cleaning solution that is designed to be used with one of the included cleaning pads. This solution works by removing clouding, oxidation, and yellowing of the surface material.
There is also a spray headlight coating that is used after the cleaning solution. This spray works to improve how clear the headlights look and also protects against the elements and UV rays. There are also two cleaning pads which work in tandem with the cleaning solution and are slightly abrasive.
Before using this kit, you'll want to apply masking tape to the area around the headlight, and it's a good idea to apply a wider margin given that part of this restoration involves a spray. Before using the cleaning solution, you'll want to shake it well and apply a quarter-sized dollop to one cleaning pad.
To clean the headlight, you’ll want to use a back and forth motion and reapply cleaning solution as needed until the headlight is clean. You may want to clear away the solution from time to time to check on the progress of the restoration. Once the headlight has a frosted look that is uniform over the whole surface the cleaning part of the process is complete.
At this point, you'll want to wipe the headlight clean with a dampened cloth, and allow it to thoroughly dry. Once it is dry, you can apply the headlight coating after shaking it well. The headlight coating will need to be applied in layers with 3-5 minutes between each application to allow for drying.
After two coats the headlight should be adequately protected, and the coating will need to fully cure for 24 hours. While it is curing it is essential that the surface is not exposed to any moisture or direct sunlight.
3M 1 Pack Medium Duty Headlight Restoration Kit
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The 3M Medium Duty Headlight Restoration kit is very similar to the regular duty and heavy-duty ones we have on our list of recommendations. It features masking tape, several sanding discs, and a synthetic wax protectant that can restore headlights, fog lights, tail lights, directional lights, and other light lenses.
This kit doesn't require that you use a drill, but using a standard household drill will speed up the process and allow for less effort to achieve a professional result. The Trizact sanding discs are super fine and can remove tiny scratches, yellowing, and oxidation without damaging the surface of the lens. Polish, and synthetic wax protectant is also included in this kit.
Users report that it takes a couple of hours to complete the restoration of two lenses, and there is enough product in this kit to perform one application on a set of headlights or other lights. The final protective coating will need a few hours to dry, and users can expect a professional looking finish with high shine.
Rain-X Headlight Restoration Kit
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The Rain-X Headlight Restoration kit includes a bottle of Rain-X lubricant, Rain-X sealant, Rain-X headlight restorer, polishing pads, and a microfiber cloth. It is recommended, as with many other kits, that you prepare the surface around the lens by covering it with masking tape before starting the restoration.
This kit also has three different grits of sandpaper and a cream polish for a finer finish. The final sealant is applied using towelettes for a smooth result. This kit is perfect for removing oxidation, yellowing, and scratches that have damaged the lens surface and there are no special tools required.
This kit retails for $15, and some users have reported having leftover product from using this kit. Masking tape is not included, and some users say that the sealant doesn't last as long as other brands and wears off within a year.
There are many different restoration kits available to refresh old headlights, taillights, directional lights, fog lights, and other auxiliary lighting on your vehicle. Most kits are for normal levels of restoration, but a few on our list deal directly with heavy duty and medium duty restoration needs.
If you are looking for a restoration kit, it's best to choose one that comes with an extended warranty and a high-quality sealant or final protective coating. Many coatings are more akin to the wax you put on your cars paint and can wash off easily. A warranty ensures that the product will maintain a shiny look for longer.
Price also doesn't mean that a product is better and for those that have significant restorations to do it's recommended that you purchase a kit that uses a drill. Using a drill will not only save you time but will make the whole process easier.