headlightcleaning

3 Easy Ways to Repair Your Headlights

Headlights are a necessity for driving at night. Not only do they illuminate the road and road signs, but it also alerts oncoming traffic to your presence. Unfortunately, headlights are no longer made with glass as they once were, because manufacturers found they broke too easily in collisions. Now, they are made either of polycarbonate or plastic. And both of these materials oxidize. Meaning, they wear down and turn cloudy over time as they are exposed to oxygen.

And that leads to a lack of vision while you drive. And a lack of vision is a dangerous situation to be in. That’s why it’s imperative that you clean and repair your headlights as needed, so you can stay safe and get where you’re going.

There is a multitude of articles out there about different, unique ways to repair headlights. Some work. Some don’t. To make it easy for you, we’ve compiled the three easiest ways to take care of foggy headlights. Always attempt to wipe down your headlights first for grime, as this may make your headlights look oxidized when, really, they’re  just dirty.

PRO TIP: If, while cleaning, you notice water droplets on the inside of your headlights, fear not. You can usually remove the headlight covers without too much difficulty, and wipe down the inside of the headlights. And if the inside has also oxidized, you can treat it the exact same way as you do the outside.

Method #1: Repairing Your Headlights With Toothpaste (Yes, Toothpaste!)

It may seem like a strange idea to start with, but this method has taken off recently. In order t clean stains and grime off of tooth enamel, toothpaste has abrasive properties. This works on the headlights the same it does on your teeth. And that leaves you with a clean, clear pair of headlights.

  1. Start by gathering all of your supplies. You’ll need masking tape, toothpaste, water, car wax, and a soft cloth. If you have sensitive skin, you might consider wearing gloves as well.
  2. Pull out the masking tape. You’ll want to use sections of tape to cover the edges of the headlight. This is just a precaution to keep scuffing or chemicals from messing with the paint on your car.
  3. Put toothpaste on the cloth. Start with a few dollops, because you can always add more. Rub it over the headlight in a small, circular motion. And make sure you get every inch well scrubbed, applying a bit of pressure to really remove oxidation.
  4. Rinse with water. You’ll want to get all the toothpaste off, so that it doesn’t leave residue. And then allow your headlights to air dry.
  5. Apply car wax to provide extra protection. This is an optional step, but is highly recommended to slow future oxidation. If you do use car wax, rinse your headlights again and allow them to air dry once more.

Method #2: Repairing Your Headlights With Glass Cleaner and Automotive Polish

For heavily damaged headlights, this easy to find combo is a perfect repair duo. The abrasive components combined are slightly stronger than toothpaste and can wear down at oxidation faster and better. It does, however, take a bit more work.

  1. Start by gathering all of your supplies. You’ll want to find automotive polish, glass cleaner, masking tape, car wax, water, and a soft cloth. If you have sensitive skin, you might consider wearing gloves as well.
  2. Pull out the masking tape. You’ll want to use sections of tape to cover the edges of the headlight. This is just a precaution to keep scuffing or chemicals from messing with the paint on your car.
  3. Spray your headlights with the glass cleaner. Be generous as this is basically the primer for the heavily abrasive automotive polish. Once you’ve covered it thoroughly, wipe it down with your soft cloth.
  4. Apply the automotive polish. Put the polish onto your soft cloth and then rub it onto the headlight in a circular motion. You’ll need to spend at least five minutes on each headlight to allow the polish to fully rub away all the staining. You may consider using a buffer to make the process easier.
  5. Rinse with water. This will remove the chance of any residue being left behind. Once you’ve finished, allow the headlights to air dry.
  6. Apply car wax to provide extra protection. This is an optional step, but is highly recommended to slow future oxidation. If you do use car wax, rinse your headlights again and allow them to air dry once more.

Method #3: Repairing Your Headlights With A Polishing Compound Kit

If you have tried one or both the previous methods, and they did not work, you may need a more extensive repair. In this case, the kit will actually allow you to resurface your headlights, so they will be back to looking as clear as new.

  1. Start by gathering all of your supplies. You can locate a polishing compound kit at pretty much any automotive store. It should include most of the supplies, but here is what you’ll specifically want to look for: masking tape, a soft cloth, a kit included cleanser (or dish soap), polishing compound, car wax, water, and sandpaper. If you have sensitive skin, you might consider wearing gloves as well.
  2. Pull out the masking tape. You’ll want to use sections of tape to cover the edges of the headlight. This is just a precaution to keep scuffing or chemicals from messing with the paint on your car.
  3. Clean off any dirt. Take your soft cloth and apply kit included cleanser or any plain dish soap. Rub it over the entire headlight and then rinse with water.
  4. Apply the polishing compound. Put the polishing compound on your soft cloth and rub it in a circular motion onto the headlight. You will want to ensure you get every inch and then give it a few minutes for the chemical to fully work.
  5. Wet your sandpaper. It is crucial to keep your sandpaper wet at all times. Your kit should come with a few different pieces with different levels of coarseness. Start with the coarsest one and work your way through to the finest. Press down hard as you rub back and forth to fully wear away at the oxidized layers of the headlights.
  6. Rinse the headlights thoroughly with water. The polishing compound is a strong chemical, so you’ll want to make sure you rinse all of it off. Then allow it to air dry.
  7. Apply car wax to provide extra protection. This is an optional step, but is highly recommended to slow future oxidation. If you do use car wax, rinse your headlights again and allow them to air dry once more.

Headlights are an important piece of safety equipment on your car. Never underestimate the damage oxidized headlights can cause. Taking the time to clean and repair your headlights will go a long way in making your trip safer and easier.

If you found this information helpful, be sure to share it on your social networks with your friends. We all know at least one friend with foggy headlights who could use this article! And if you have any other tips, tricks, or suggestions, comment below!

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