Over time, the headlight assembly of your vehicle, just like every other component on your car, will start to get dirty. When a headlight system gets dirty, it usually manifests as a yellowish film that reduces the effectiveness of the headlight beam, even if you’re using bright halogens. There are many causes of this film, which can include excess moisture, ultraviolet light, insects, and even smoke. In any situation, part of your vehicle upkeep routine should be the maintenance of your headlight assembly, especially since this vital component of your car needs to work at 100 percent in order to keep you safe.
A common practice the many vehicle owners try to use is the “toothbrush method,” which attempts to clean this film off of the front of the headlights using toothpaste and a toothbrush. This may have some limited effectiveness, but toothpaste and toothbrushes aren’t really designed to add a protective layer to your headlights.
For this reason, it’s much better to use one of the best headlight restoration kit products, which is dedicated to and formulated specifically for the glass or plastic surface of your headlights. Not only will a dedicated kit clean deeply into the material via special solutions, but in most cases, these will come with sanders and will also add a protective layer that will help reduce the accumulation of this grimy build-up.
Best Headlight Restoration Kit Buyer’s Guide
Why Would You Want or Need a Headlight Restoration Kit?
Simply put, daily driving causes a cloudy build up to occur on your headlights. This will directly reduce the effectiveness of your headlight’s light output, which means you won’t be driving under the best circumstances. One of these kits is very easy to apply in most situations, and many of the products on the market also work as protectants, so there’s a lot of value. It is important to understand that different kits have different methodologies, so finding the right product for your vehicle and headlight assembly is absolutely essential.
What Kinds of Features Should You Expect to Look Out for in a Headlight Restoration Kit?
As mentioned, these products definitely vary by quite a bit, but as a rule, there are some features that you can look out for. These include:
UV protection: Believe it or not, the sun can definitely degrade the clarity of your headlight assembly, so it’s a good idea to protect this plastic material from the sun’s rays.
Sanding: Most kits will come with some type of sanding functionality. Usually, this will have finer and more coarse grits so that you can buff away any surface imperfections and scratches.
Versatility: While most people use one of these kits for their headlights, some products are designed to have multiple uses. This level of versatility will allow you to not only clean your headlights but your fog lights and directional lights as well.
Oxidation protection: In most cases, it’s oxidation that causes this foggy build up on your headlights. Fortunately, some of the best products in the market actually will add a protective layer to the outside of your headlights, which is designed to inhibit oxidation. This will increase the amount of time that you will have between headlight restoration sessions.
Best Practices for Upkeep with a Headlight Restoration Kit
When it’s time to restore your headlights, there are a few best practice options that you should always consider. Here are a few:
Clean the headlight thoroughly: Before you start the process, you should use a soapy solution to clean off any excess crime that may have accumulated on the front portion of the headlight assembly. While the chemicals are designed to break down exterior substances, a nice pre-wash will help the chemicals bond better to the surface of the headlight.
Use painter’s tape: With some headlight restore kits, the chemicals used can be very abrasive. For this reason, you’ll definitely want to protect the body of your car from these sometimes harsh chemicals. Utilizing painter’s tape is a great way to ensure that any excess spillage doesn’t cause damage to the front of a car. In fact, some kits even come with this.
Best Headlight Restoration Kit Reviews
One of the best features of this Sylvania headlight restoration kit is its activator solution. This solution almost immediately removes any cloudiness from the surface of your headlight, but this solution is designed only as the first step in a very thorough process. This Sylvania kit also includes several other crucial components that will really renew your headlights. In addition to this, Sylvania has also included multiple grits of sandpaper, which you can use the buff way any scratches that have accumulated on the surface.
The product also uses a clarifying compound, which really polishes the surface to a like-new condition. The product also includes a UV clear coat how to protect your headlights from oxidation caused by the sun.
- This is a fairly thorough kit.
- The UV protectant is very effective.
- The inclusion 400, 1000, and 2000-grit sandpaper can really help bring life to your headlights.
- This product won’t be as effective in temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
You don’t always need an in-depth product that has a multi-tiered approach to removing cloudiness. This product, which is manufactured by 3M, is great for those who are looking to do a lighter level of work. In fact, full restoration processes should only take a few minutes. It is important to understand that this product comes of a sanding disc, so you need a bit of elbow grease to treat the surface of your headlights.
- This is good for headlights, tail lights, fog lights, or directional lights.
- The scrubbing pads will remove many of the scratches that might have accumulated on your headlights.
- This is for a lighter level of work.
- It won’t be as effective on older headlight systems with a lot of accumulation.
This is another 3M product, but this time, scrubbing pad is designed to work with a drill, which can help you buff away deeper scratches. 3M has also thrown in a polishing pad, which can also be attached to your drill. As a result, this 3M product provides a deeper level of cleaning with half of the elbow grease.
3M has also thrown in several sanding discs, which can also be used to clean up other lighting systems on your car.
- The sand, refine, and polish system is very simple.
- The drill-mounted components make restoration easy.
- 3M didn’t include any painter’s tape.
Mothers’ Nulens headlight restoration system is very unique from any of the other products on the market today. For example, instead of just including a sander, this kit also includes a “Powerball” buffer that is best designed to quickly remove most external material from the front of the headlights.
This isn’t to say that the company didn’t also include some sanding pads; in fact, these are also included in the kit, which will be reserved for deeper gashes and cuts. As a result, this is definitely one of the more complete kits on the market today.
- The Powerball buffer is very effective.
- This comes with a solution to actively inhibit oxidation.
- This is a very complete kit; it should take care of most headlight issues.
- Some of the pads can disintegrate over time.
This product, which is also from Meguiar’s (the company behind Mothers), also has a Powerball-style wool pad that is designed to buff away any imperfections from your headlight assembly. In addition to this, the company has thrown in a PlastX plastic polish, which really restores the shininess of most headlights. This kit also stands out because of the fact that it has hand tools included, which you can use if you don’t have a drill. Even without a drill you can achieve a high level of deep cleaning.
- This product really does provide professional results.
- This will clean up to 10 headlight lenses.
- The product will make most headlight assemblies look new.
- If you’re not careful, the sanders can leave a patina of scratches on your headlight.
One of the best features of Wipe New is the fact that the solution will actually bond with the acrylic so that you’re providing a brand new layer on top of your headlights. As a result, older lights end up looking brand new much easier. Of course, like many of the other products in our guide, Wipe New also comes with sanding pads that will help you remove scratches and imperfections from the surface of your headlight assemblies. On average, this product completely revitalizes your headlights within about 10 minutes.
- The bonding process is very quick.
- Once you apply the acrylic layer, it’ll last through thousands of car washes.
- This treatment lasts for years.
- This product doesn’t actively protect against UV.
The third 3M product in our guide provides a fairly well-rounded experience for those looking to restore their headlights. One of the best features of this product is the fact that you don’t have to use any tools to apply the kit to your headlights. That being said, if you want to, you can speed up the process by using a standard household drill. Despite the fact that this is a heavy duty kit, restoring your headlights only requires a four-step process, which should only take a few minutes.
- Unlike some other 3M restoration kits, the product comes with protectant tape.
- The buffers/sanders can be used by hand or with a drill.
- It comes with enough sanders and buffers to be used on multiple headlight assemblies.
- It only comes with one 3000-grit disc.
Turtle Wax, as a company, is known for its protectant products, and this restore kit not only can revitalize your headlights, but it’s also designed to protect them from future damage. It does this by including lens sealing wipes, which are designed to protect the lens from future UV damage. In addition to these components, the product packs in the old staples such as sandpaper pads of various grits as well as lens clarifying compounds. Overall, this is a very convenient product from Turtle Wax.
- The fact that the lens sealers come in wipe form is very convenient.
- This product also comes with a spray lubricant for the sanding pads.
- This is a drill-based headlight restoring kit.
- This doesn’t make every lens type clear.
Meguiar’s markets this product as a two-step restoration kit, and if you’re looking for simplicity, this is a good product to start with. All you have to do is apply the included cleaning solution and the headlight coating, which is applied via drill-less sanders. Once you’ve completed applying this product to your headlights, they should stay protected for a full year. You can even drive the vehicle directly after applying the product to your headlights.
- This product only requires a two-step process.
- You don’t need a drill.
- The two-step headlight restoration kit protects the headlights for a full year.
- Sometimes, the spray tends to spurt the chemical in various directions.
Out of all the products in this guide, this kit, which is from Visabella, might be the heaviest duty. Not only does it include the wipes for some of the previous products, but it also includes the polishing paste, several high-grit pads, and buffers. This is a drill-based system, which makes it fairly easy to do quickly. In fact, this is designed as a three-step system, which means that you can complete the restoration process in about 15 to 20 minutes.
- The process is able to be completed by one person.
- This is a very heavy duty system.
- It includes an adapter for a power drill.
- It has UV-protecting wipes.
- Sometimes, the rotating pad attachment can be a bit off-center.