Best Headlight Restoration Kit – Buyer’s Guide 2017
Introduction – Best Headlight Restoration Kit
Do your headlights look like this:
Are they cloudy, yellowed, and peeling? This is a very common issue with modern day headlights due to the fact that more and more manufacturers have been using plastic headlight housings for their vehicles. Prolonged exposure to the harmful UV rays of sunlight over the course of a car’s life is the main cause of this yellowing, clouding and peeling. Combine this with the dirt and grime that are constantly being thrown onto the headlights and nose of the car, and you get oxidation of the plastic which turns more and more yellow as it becomes more oxidized.
This hazing of the headlight lenses can ruin the look of your ride and, more importantly, hamper the performance of the headlights causing legitimate safety concerns. In the past, this would require the headlights housings to be replaced. Headlight Restoration Kits provide the tools you need to completely refinish your headlights right in your driveway and restore that performance and crystal clear look. They are Level 1 in terms of difficulty meaning that the job is very easy even for someone with no DIY experience.
Choosing the Best Headlight Restoration Kit
There are a few things to consider when picking out the Best Headlight Restoration kit:
First, determining what level of restoration you need will be important to make sure you’re not overbuying. If you have slight discoloration or yellowing, you likely don’t need to get the heavy duty kits and can spend a bit less money.
Second, many of the kits include power-drill attachments for polishing, sanding or both, while some kits are 100% manual. You will pay a bit more for the drill accessories, but it will reduce the effort required significantly and can potentially be reused in other situations around your car.
Third, taking a look at the quantities and quality of the accessories included is important. Some kits include a whole separate bottle of their top-of-the-line polishing compound in the kit and reusable sanding/polishing pads. Other kits are designed for single-use applications and then you toss them out. Depending on how long you’ll be driving your car, you may consider going with a reusable kit to prevent having to spend the money ever year or two on a disposable kit.
How to Restore Headlights
Most of the kits on the market are 3 step kits.
Step 1: Wet Sanding the Headlight Housing
The precursor to this step is always ensuring that the lenses are clean and dry before starting. We recommend washing the car prior to performing a Headlight Restoration. We also recommend using some painter’s tape to tape the paint around your headlight to prevent damage to the paint finishes.
Wet sanding uses extremely fine grit sandpaper to abrasively remove the outer layer of plastic that has oxidized. The micro abrasions produced by extremely small due to the fine grit as well as the layer of lubricant (typically water or soapy water) that is used to wet the sandpaper. Keeping the sanding surface wet is the key to proper wet sanding.
Some kits provide a drill-powered sanding attachment to reduce the effort required to wet sand the headlight housings. Manual or automatic work fine just be careful not to apply too much pressure. Once you’ve worked your way through the sandpaper in order of lowest to highest grit, you will notice that the yellowing has been removed but the headlight is still cloudy. These are micro-abrasions left by the wet sanding process. The polishing step will remove the cloudiness.
Step 2: Polishing the Headlight Housing
Polishing is the step that should restore the clarity to your headlight housings. Now that the yellow is gone, and the lenses have been wet-sanded, the polishing compound will correct the extremely fine micro-abrasions left by the sand paper. Again, some kits will provide a drill attachment for this step as well. We recommend using the drill for the polishing step to make sure those micro-abrasions wet wiped out and you’re left with the clearest lenses possible.
Step 3: Sealing the Headlight Housing
The Sealing step is the final step that will hopefully prevent the oxidation from occurring for at least a year or so. Different kits come with different options for sealing and all have different specifications on how long they guarantee the clarity. You can’t prevent the oxidation forever, so it’s best to revisit this entire procedure once a year to keep your headlights performing at 100% efficiency.
Top 5 Best Headlight Restoration Kit Comparison
The Turtle Wax kit is the cheapest kit on the list coming in at just over ten dollars. While some parts of the kit may be reusable, it seems like its designed to be a single application product due to the fact that it only includes 2 lens sealing wipes. At its core, it is a wet sanding kit that includes a spray lubricant and sanding pads with grits between 2400-8000 that will remove the oxidized layer.
A clarifying compound is also included to polish the lenses after the wet-sanding. Finally, the lens sealing wipes are used to provide protection from future yellowing and oxidation.
This is one of the more popular kits on our list, however, it’s reviews don’t quite stack up to the average. With 3.9/5 stars, it may be best to take a look at some of the other options unless you just need something cheap and quick. Maybe you’re getting ready to sell the car and you just want to clean the headlights one time – this is the cheap one time use option. Take a look:
Mothers is another big brand in the automotive care industry similar to Meguiars. Their NuLens Headlight Renewal kit is the most affordable kit on the list that includes a power drill attachment. The Mothers Powerball is actually one of the most well-known and best performing drill polishers out there due to its design with multiple sponge tentacles that provide uniform pressure across the polishing surface.
This kit also includes a sanding wheel drill attachment that is separate from the Powerball polisher. However, extra caution must be used when using a power sanding method to remove that oxidized layer. Too much pressure or being too aggressive with the sanding can leave the headlights in worse shape than when you started.
Ultimately this kit has relatively good reviews with 4.2/5 stars across a few hundred reviews. This kit is almost worth the cost just to get the Powerball attachment for future projects. The Mothers PowerPlastic polishing compound is stated to leave a protective polymer layer to guard against future degradation, but this likely will not perform as well as the sealing compounds that the more expensive kits include.
Check it out at the link below for the latest pricing, reviews and information.
Sylvania is a large brand in the automotive lighting world. From headlight bulbs to headlight housings, these guys are the experts in all things lighting. The Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit is designed by the actual company that designed the headlights so you can be sure that the quality and performance will be up to par.
This kit is one of the simpler designed kits on the list with its 3-step fully manual process for removing the oxidation on your lights. There is a surface activator that will begin to break down the oxidation which is followed by a sanding and polishing step that fully removes the layer of yellow/haze. Finally, a UV-blocking clear coat is applied to protect the finish for up to 12 months.
The kit states a limited lifetime warranty that guarantees performance as long as you own your car as well as a 12 month satisfaction guarantee. This is actually the highest rated kit that we reviewed with 4.6/5 stars across a few thousand reviews. However, it’s not the cheapest and doesn’t include any attachments for power tools to reduce the amount of effort required.
If you don’t mind doing the job manually, this is a great option to consider. Be sure to check out the link below for more info.
3M is one of the largest brands in the world. Their 39008 Headlight Lens Restoration System is easily the most popular kit on the list. It is a moderate-duty kit with a drill attachment that makes the process significantly easier than manual sanding.
The kit is actually a four step system for gradually buffing out the oxidation of the headlights. The abrasives used in the sanding discs are so fine that the will not scratch even the softest of lenses. After polishing off the oxidation, the kit includes a sealer that will protect the new layer of plastic from future oxidation.
This kit has 4.5/5 stars across thousands of reviews and is just about the cheapest you can get for a drill-compatible restoration kit. This is the MaintainYourRide recommendation for Best Headlight Restoration Kit from a Value perspective. Be sure the click the link below to get the full product details, reviews, photos, and pricing.
Meguiar’s is one of the most popular brands in car care products. The breadth and quality of their automotive detailing product line is among the top in the industry. The Meguiar’s G2980 Heavy Duty Headlight Restoration Kit is one of their top tier products designed specifically to treat the worst headlight oxidation, yellowing, and clouding.
This kit combines all of the features of the basic kit for light oxidation as well as the two-step kit for moderate oxidation with the additional cleaning power of sand-paper and a polishing attachment for a drill. The drill attachment makes the process significantly easier and can be reused for many other projects around the car as well as the house. This kit also includes a sealant product that is applied after polishing off the oxidation and is guaranteed for up to one year of protection for your headlights.
This kit comes at a slightly higher price than the other kits on the list, however, the polishing attachment for the drill is what makes up the majority of the value. This kit has four and a half stars across thousands of reviews when you factor in the basic and two-step kits that this is based off of. The PlastX Polishing compound included in this kit is worth almost a third of the price alone. Factoring in the rest of the items included, its not a bad price for the lot.
If your oxidation isn’t too terrible, you may be better off going with a cheaper option. The cheaper Meguiar’s kits are good alternatives if you’re not too concerned with the drill polishing attachment or one of the other options on this list as well.
Headlight Restoration Video
MYR Recommended Best Headlight Restoration Kit – Overall: Meguiar’s G2980 Heavy Duty Headlight Restoration Kit
MYR Recommended Best Headlight Restoration Kit – Performance: Meguiar’s G2980 Heavy Duty Headlight Restoration Kit
MYR Recommended Best Headlight Restoration Kit – Value: 3M 39008 Headlight Lens Restoration System
Don’t forget to check out our Buyer’s Guides for Best Car Wax and Best Car Wash Soap when you get through with this one. Getting the best Soap and Wax for your car is the basic foundation of a proper car care kit and will help preserve your cars finishes for much longer than average.