Your car’s headlight lenses degrade over time and can become yellow and cloudy in just a few years which significantly affects night-time visibility.
Modern headlight lenses are all made out of plastic because it can be molded into any shape, it’s cheaper to make, and it’s also safer than glass when accidents occur. Car manufacturers use a special UV coating to extend the lifespan of their lenses, but this coating will also eventually wear down after prolonged exposure to UV rays, road debris, and microscopic particles in the air.
The US NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has outdoor exposure tests for headlight lenses. But it only requires that lenses last at least 3 years without losing more than 25% of its original light transmittance properties. So you shouldn’t be surprised if your headlights start losing their luster after a couple of years.
Also reead: Best LED Headlight Kits
With a good headlight restoration kit, you can extend the life of your headlights and not have to replace the entire headlight housing, which is not only more expensive, but is also significantly more labor-intensive.
With this in mind, let’s review the best headlight restoration kits you can buy online today.
1. Meguiar’s G2970 Two Step Headlight Restoration Kit
This all-inclusive Two Step Headlight Restoration Kit from Meguiar’s doesn’t require a power drill or any other power tools to bring your headlights back to life. Meguiar’s recommends using this kit for moderate to heavily damaged headlights. It’s a lot more effective than the G2960 Basic Headlight Restoration Kit but doesn’t require power tools like the heavy-duty G2980 kit.
It comes with two abrasive cleaning pads, so you have a clean pad for each of your headlights. It also comes with a bottle of cleaning compound that’s powerful enough to be effectively used by hand or with a buffer.
All you need to do is clean and dry your headlights before scrubbing it with the cleaning compound using the pads. Let it dry for 5 minutes then wipe it off with a damp cloth. You can scrub it a second time if the lens clarity still looks uneven. Once it’s dry, spray it with the headlight coating, which replaces the factory UV coating, and let it dry for another 5 minutes. The coating should be fully cured with 24 hours and should protect the plastic for one year.
Meguiar’s has made its name by providing a solid line of products that just simply work as advertised. The brand is recommended by car enthusiasts and auto detailers alike, so you know you’re not just paying for a well-marketed brand name.
- Complete headlight cleaning, restoration and coating kit
- Removes heavy oxidation, yellowing, and scratches
- Can be applied by hand; Does not require additional power tools
- Comes with 2 cleaning pads, Meguiar’s Cleaning Solution and Headlight Coating spray
- Headlight coating protects your headlight lens for up to 1 year
- Easy to apply
- Cleaning solution and Headlight coating should be good enough to clean up to 4 headlights
- Doesn’t require power tools
- Easy to apply by hand
- Headlight coating is effective for up to 1 year
- Abrasive pads will wear down after several applications
2. SYLVANIA Headlight Restoration Kit
SYLVANIA Automotive specializes in vehicle lighting and is one of the most respected headlight bulb brands in the world. Given its reputation, it’s easy to see why the SYLVANIA Headlight Restoration Kit is one of the bestselling kits in the market today.
The kit comes with 3 sheets of sandpaper with different grit sizes, a bottle of Surface Activator, a bottle of UV Block Clear Coat, a half-ounce packet of Clarifying Compound, 2 applicator cloths, a lint-free clear coat applicator cloth, and vinyl gloves. It comes with everything you need to restore your headlights and doesn’t require any additional power tools.
The Surface Activator softens the degraded top layer of the plastic which makes the sanding process easier and more effective. Once you’ve washed off the activator, you can wet sand the headlight lens. Use the coarsest sandpaper first. Wash off the debris, then sand it again using the finer grit sandpaper to remove the rough sanding marks.
After the third round of sanding using the 2000-grit sandpaper, polish the lens using the Clarifying Compound and the applicator cloth. Rinse off the Clarifying Compound and use the Surface Activator once again to completely clean the lens. Let it dry then apply the UV Block Clear Coat using the lint-free cloth to seal the top layer of plastic and protect it from oxidation.
- Complete headlight restoration kit that even comes with gloves
- Doesn’t require power tools
- SYLVANIA’s proprietary Surface Activator speeds up the sanding process
- Includes 3 sheets of sandpaper with progressively finer grit sizes – 400, 1000 and 2000 grit
- Comes with Clarifying Compound to give the lens a final polish and UV Block Clear Coat to seal the plastic finish
- Included materials are good enough for 2 headlights; Surface Activator and UV Block Clear Coat are enough for 2 more headlights
- Lifetime Warranty
- No power tools required
- All-inclusive kit
- Very inexpensive
- Surface Activator is very effective
- Sheets of sandpaper and Clarifying Compound is only good for one-time use
- Requires a bit of elbow grease
3. 3M Heavy Duty Headlight Lens Restoration
The 3M 39008 Headlight Restoration Kit is suitable for heavy-duty restoration jobs. It’s designed to be used with any household electric drill and comes with a special attachment to hold the included sanding discs and the soft compounding pad.
The kit uses a 4-step process to effectively remove all yellowing and worn out surfaces of the headlight lens, with the final step giving it a finely polished finish. It comes with 6 500-grit, 4 800-grit, and 1 3000-grit sanding discs which are enough to properly restore 2 severely cloudy headlights. You can also buy additional 3M sanding discs if you need to do more headlights.
This kit also comes with a 1-ounce packet of 3M rubbing compound and a soft compounding pad to polish the sanded plastic and give the lens a clear finish. 3M estimates that the entire restoration process for two headlights should only take about an hour.
- Designed for heavily oxidized and cloudy headlights, taillights and fog lights
- Comes with drill attachment, 3 grits of sanding discs, a compounding pad, and a packet of rubbing compound
- Includes 6x P500 Gold Sanding Discs, 4x P800 White Finishing Discs, and 1x P3000 Trizact Gray Refining Disc
- Uses high-quality sanding discs that are made in the USA and UK
- Works with any standard household drill that can spin at 1,200 to 1,600 RPM
- Materials included are enough to restore 2 severely degraded headlights
- Great for severely cloudy lenses
- Includes several high-quality sanding discs
- Additional sanding discs can be easily purchased
- Compatible with most power drills
- One of the most affordable heavy-duty kits available
- Instructions do not specify if you should dry sand or wet sand
- Kit does not include a sealant or clear coat
4. Mothers NuLens Headlight Renewal Kit
Mothers’ NuLens Headlight Restoration Kit is designed to be used with a regular electric drill. It comes with a drill attachment, several sanding discs, the patented PowerBall 4Lights Foam Polishing Tool, and an 8-ounce bottle of PowerPlastic 4Lights Plastic Polish.
The included wet sanding discs come in several grit sizes; 2 800-grit, 2 1500-grit, and 1 3000-grit. The coarsest grit sanding disc can easily remove the heavily oxidized layers of plastic from your headlight lenses, while the finer grit discs will smoothen and even out the sanding marks.
The PowerBall foam polishing tool has a proprietary design that eliminates swirl marks during the polishing process. It’s used in conjunction with the Mothers PowerPlastic polishing compound to restore the clarity of the lens. Mothers’ headlight polishing compound also serves as a sealant and top coat that protects the lens surface from the elements.
The PowerBall polisher is washable and can be used over and over to keep your headlights in great condition for several years. There’s also enough polishing compound in the bottle to treat multiple headlights several times a year.
- Delivers professional-looking results with ease
- Includes 3-inch drill attachment and 5 wet sanding discs; 2x 800-grit, 2x 1500-grit and 1 3000-grit
- Also comes with proprietary PowerBall washable foam polishing tool
- 8-ounce bottle of PowerPlastic polishing compound also serves as a sealant
- Polishing tool and compound can be used repeatedly for several years
- Backed by Mothers satisfaction guarantee
- Great for restoration and routine maintenance
- Dual-purpose PowerPlastic polishing compound also protects the lens surface
- Ideal for maintaining several headlights
- Very affordable
- Included number of sanding discs may not be enough for extremely degraded headlights
- Mothers recommends monthly reapplication of the PlasticPolish by hand or using the PowerBall
5. Turtle Wax T-240KT Headlight Lens Restorer
The T-240KT Headlight Lens Restorer kit from Turtle Wax is the original version of the company’s headlight restoration product. This kit has two double-sided sanding pads ranging from 2400 to 8000-grit, a bottle of Turtle Wax Spray Lubricant, another bottle of Lens Clarifying Compound, and 2 Lens Sealing Wipes.
The ‘improved’ version, called the Speed Headlight Lens Restorer (product code 53435), comes with only one sanding pad, a bottle of Turtle Wax Repair & Renew, 4 ceramic acrylic wipes, and a pair of gloves.
Both Turtle Wax headlight restoration kits cost half as much as the other kits we’ve reviewed here and many have proven that it works great. Some have used just the Turtle Wax Clarifying Compound with a cloth to restore the clarity of their headlight lenses.
If the polishing compound is not enough, the limited number of sanding discs supplied may not be enough to completely remove oxidation and scratches from your lenses. It also comes with just a couple of sealing wipes that might wear off in just a couple of months.
- A very low-cost headlight restoration kit from a reputable brand
- Includes 2 double-sided sanding pads with 4 grit sizes ranging from 2400 to 8000-grit
- Comes with Turtle Wax Spray Lubricant to make the wet sanding process easier
- Turtle Wax Lens Clarifying Compound effectively removes dirt and polishes the lens
- Enough clarifying compounded included to treat multiple lenses
- 2 Lens Sealing Wipes protect the plastic lens surface from further oxidization
- Costs half as much as most headlight restoration kits
- The Lens Clarifying Compound is proven to be very effective
- Complete kit with everything you need; sanding lubricant, polishing compound, and sealing wipe
- Size and number of sanding pads not enough for heavily oxidized lenses
- Requires a lot of elbow grease if you need to sand down your lenses
- Not enough lens sealing wipes to protect lenses for extended periods
6. Rust-Oleum Wipe New Headlight Restore Kit
The Rust-Oleum Wipe New Headlight Restore kit is a great budget option that’s easy to use and delivers great results. It comes with pretty much everything you’d need to bring your headlights back to life.
The kit includes a double-sided Lens Polishing Pad to get rid of the existing clear coat and oxidized layers of plastic. The green side has a 2000-grit sanding surface while the gray side has a 3000-grit surface.
After the sanding process, the Rust-Oleum Wipe-It towelette restores the clarity of the lens by simply wiping it across the surface of the lens. The towelette contains Rust-Oleum’s Wipe New headlight clear coat that also protects the lens surface from further damage.
Once the clear coat is fully cured after 24 hours, it will last for a year and can withstand up to 100 washes. The infused towelette can be used on multiple pairs of headlights as long as it’s used before it dries up.
It also comes with a pair of nitrile gloves so the Wipe New clear coat doesn’t dry up and harden on your skin. A microfiber cloth is also included so you can effectively clean up any debris that you sand off.
- Budget-oriented headlight restoration kit that delivers great results
- Easy to use and requires no power tools
- Comes with a double-sided Lens Polishing Pad; 2000-grit green side and 3000-grit gray side
- Wipe-It towelette contains Rust-Oleum Wipe New clear coat which can be applied by hand
- Clear coat can last up to 1 year or up to 100 car washes
- Includes a pair of nitrile gloves to protect your hands from the Wipe New formula and a microfiber towel
- One of the cheapest headlight kits available
- No power tools needed
- Includes clear coat that’s effective and easy to apply
- The entire process takes very little time
- Fine grit sanding surface will not be suitable for heavily oxidized lenses
- Some users have experienced mixed results
7. LuDuo Headlight Restoration Kit
The LuDuo Headlight Restoration Kit is another great budget option that’s available at a fraction of the cost of medium to heavy duty restoration kits from more popular brands.
Like other heavy-duty headlight restoration kits, this one is meant to be used with a power drill. It comes with a drill attachment, 6 sanding discs with 3 different grit sizes, and a sponge polishing pad.
You also get 2 packets of polishing compound and 2 packets of UV protectant. The UV coating is applied by hand using the smaller sponge disc. A roll of masking tape is also included to protect the paint surrounding your headlights during the restoration process.
Using this kit is fairly straightforward. Just sand down the surface of the headlights, buff it with the polishing compound, then apply the UV coating to protect the lens surface.
Some people have reported mixed results after using this kit. This can probably be attributed to the UV coating and how it’s applied by hand using a sponge applicator since the included sanding and polishing tools are the same as what other kits use.
It’s hard to beat for the price, and the drill attachment can be reused with other sanding discs that you can purchase separately. The number of sanding discs and the amount of UV coating included with the kit should be good enough for 2 heavily oxidized headlights, but there’s enough polishing compound to do several more headlights.
- Very affordable headlight restoration kit that’s suitable for heavily oxidized headlights
- Comes with drill attachment for sanding discs and polishing sponge
- Sanding discs can also be attached to the polishing sponge if you want to sand by hand
- Includes 2x P800, 2x P1200 and 2x P2000 sanding discs
- Also comes with 2 packets of polishing compound and 2 packets of UV coating
- UV coating should be applied evenly by hand using the included white sponge disc
- Includes a roll of masking tape to protect your car’s paint
- Materials included should be good enough for 2 heavily oxidized headlights
- One of the lowest priced heavy duty headlight restoration kits in the market
- Drill attachment and polishing pad are reusable
- Gets mixed reviews
- UV coating can be difficult to apply properly
- Limited number of sanding discs
8. 3M Medium Duty Headlight Restoration Kit
3M’s 39084 Headlight Restoration Kit is designed for moderately oxidized headlight lenses. It doesn’t require any power tools and can be easily used by hand.
Instead of a drill attachment, this kit comes with a foam pad that has a Velcro backing which holds the different sanding discs. The thick foam pad acts as a handle so you can easily sand down your headlight’s lens surface.
The kit comes with a total of 12 sanding discs. – 6 500-grit discs and 4 800-grit discs to get rid of heavy oxidation, and a 1000-grit and a 3000-grit disc to give the lens a very smooth finish. There are enough sanding discs in the kit to deal with very cloudy and hazy headlights.
It also comes with 2 1-ounce packets of rubbing compound so you can polish off the sanded surface and restore the clarity of the lens. Just put some rubbing compound on the other side of the foam pad and use it as a hand polisher. To prevent further oxidation after you’ve restored your headlights, you’ll need to apply a clear coat like 3M’s Quick Headlight Clear Coat.
- Restores moderately cloudy headlights
- Requires no power tools
- Designed to be easily used by hand
- Comes with a Velcro-backed foam pad used for attaching sanding discs and for polishing
- Includes a total of 12 sanding discs; 6x P500, 4x P800, 1x P1000 and 1x P3000
- Also comes with 2x 1-ounce 3M rubbing compound
- Foam pad makes sanding by hand easier
- Comes with lots of sanding discs
- Uses high-quality 3M sandpaper and rubbing compound
- A few dollars more expensive than 3M’s heavy-duty kit
- Doesn’t come with headlight clear coat
9. Chemical Guys Headlight Restore and Protect
The Chemical Guys Headlight Restore and Protect compound is a 2-in-1 solution that removes the cloudiness of headlights and also adds a protective layer that prevents it from further oxidation. It comes in a 16-ounce bottle which should be good enough to maintain several pairs of headlights for a couple of years.
This product can be applied by hand with a microfiber towel or with a power tool like a dual-action buffer or a more common power drill. To use this with a drill you can get the Chemical Guys drill attachment and Hex Logic Cutting Pad, or something similar.
If your headlights are in really bad shape, Chemical Guys recommends sanding them down first with 2000-grit and 3000-grit sandpaper before polishing it with Headlight Restore and Protect. Otherwise, for light to moderately hazy headlights, you just need to wash your headlights, polish them with the compound, then wipe off any excess material to make them crystal clear.
The entire process should take less than an hour and there’s enough product in the bottle to do it over and over again as part of your regular maintenance.
- All-in-one headlight restoration compound that removes oxidation and protects the lens surface
- Can be applied by hand or using power tools
- The cream-like formula contains micro-abrasives to polish lens surfaces and synthetic wax sealant to keep them protected
- Easy one-step process restores light to moderately cloudy headlights quickly
- Heavily oxidized lenses can be sanded with fine-grit sandpaper before polishing
- 16-ounce bottle is enough to maintain several pairs of headlights for several years
- Dual-purpose compound clarifies and protects headlights at the same time
- Each bottle contains enough compound to regularly maintain several pairs of headlights
- Can be applied using either a microfiber towel or a household drill
- Relatively low-cost
- Not adequate for severely damaged headlights that require sanding
10. OPT7 Headlight Restoration Kit
This complete Headlight Restoration Kit from OPT7 comes in a handy little bag that stores everything you’ll need to give your headlights a second lease on life. OPT7 is a popular brand that’s been specializing in LED headlights for the last decade, so they know what they’re doing when it comes to automotive lighting.
The kit comes with 2 1000-grit and 2 3000-grit sanding discs that can be attached to the included plastic hand sander. It also comes with a drill attachment in case you want to speed up the sanding process.
It also comes with two types of polishing compounds and two foam polishing pads. The CPX Stage 1 Polish should be used with the firm polishing pad, while the CPX Stage 2 works with the softer polishing pad. The 2-step polishing process ensures that your headlights lenses will look as good as new.
The final step is the application of OPT7’s Ceramic Nu clear coat using the provided microfiber towel. The special coating protects the lens surface from rays UV and oxidation. It also bonds with the plastic and makes it harder so it’s more resistant to scratches and chips.
OPT7 also includes alcohol wipes so you can clean up your headlight lenses before sanding and applying the ceramic coating. Two microfiber towels are also included with the kit. The smaller towel should be used to apply the clear coat.
You’ll only need to use a small amount of polishing compound and clear coat to restore a pair of headlight lenses, so the three small bottles should go a long way if you have more than one vehicle. You can always buy additional sanding discs if you also need to sand down more headlights.
- Complete headlight restoration kit that comes in a convenient bag
- Uses a multi-stage process to deliver professional results
- Comes with a plastic hand sander, as well as 2x 1000-grit and 2x 3000-grit sanding discs
- Includes drill attachment and 2 foam polishing pads – 1 soft pad and 1 firm pad
- Comes with 2x 30ml bottles of CPX Polish for the 2-stage polishing process
- Advanced Ceramic Nu coating protects the lens surface from UV rays, oxidation, and scratches; Lasts up to 18 months
- Comes with 1 large and 1 small microfiber towel
- Included polishing compound and ceramic coating should be good enough for several pairs of headlights
- Complete sanding, polishing, and clear coat kit
- Can be used by hand or with a power tool
- Uses advanced ceramic clear coat
- Included polishing compound and clear coat can be used for several headlights
- More expensive than other kits
11. EASTUP Headlight Lens Restoration Kit
The EASTUP 80011 Headlight Lens Restoration Kit packs a lot of value for your money. It’s a complete kit that’s designed for heavy-duty restoration jobs.
It’s intended to be used with power drills that can operate at 1,200 to 1,600 RPM. It comes with a drill attachment and a soft interface pad that increases the flexibility of the sanding discs. This makes the sanding process easier on your hands and also helps evenly spread out the pressure applied on the headlight lens surface.
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The kit comes with 10 3M-branded sanding discs with 4 different grit sizes (400, 800, 1,000 and 2,000 grit). The 400-grit sanding discs can easily remove severely degraded plastic surfaces, while the finer grit sanding discs smooth out any rough sanding marks.
After sanding, use the polishing pad and the rubbing compound to polish the lens surface and restore its clarity. It comes with a 3-ounce bottle of rubbing compound which should be more than enough for a pair of headlights.
It also comes with a 1-ounce bottle of Headlight UV Coat to protect the freshly polished headlight from further oxidation and damage. The UV coating can be easily applied by hand using the included applicator tool.
You also get a pair of gloves, a roll of masking tape, a microfiber cloth, and alcohol wipes with this kit. You don’t need to buy any other additional supplies to get the job done quickly and properly.
- Complete headlight restoration kit that comes with all the supplies you’ll need
- Designed for heavy-duty restoration jobs on severely cloudy headlights
- Works with a regular power drill that can run at 1,200 to 1,600 RPM
- Comes with a drill attachment and a soft interface pad to help you apply pressure more evenly
- Includes 10 sanding discs from 3M with rough to fine grit sizes; 400, 800, 1,000 and 2,000-grit
- Comes with a foam polishing pad and a 3-ounce bottle of rubbing compound
- Comes with a 1-ounce bottle of Headlight UV Coating and applicator
- Kit includes gloves, alcohol wipes, masking tape, and a microfiber towel
- A very low-cost heavy duty restoration kit
- Offers tremendous value for money
- Highly effective and gets great customer feedback
- Uses high-quality 3M sanding discs
- Requires a power tool
- Only enough sanding discs for 2 heavily oxidized headlights
Preparing your Headlights for a Restoration
Before attempting to restore your headlights, you should always give them a thorough wash first. This removes any dirt that’s still stuck on the lens and could grind down on the lens surface during sanding or polishing.
It’s also a good idea to wipe it down with isopropyl alcohol to remove anything the car soap hasn’t lifted off and soften up the layers of dirt that may have built up on the lens surface over the years.
After properly washing and drying your headlights, you should mask off the areas that surround your headlights using painter’s tape or masking tape. This ensures you don’t accidentally damage your car’s paint job with sanding marks or take off your car’s clear coat during buffing.
Painter’s tape is better than masking tape because it doesn’t leave any residue on your car’s paint job. It’s also a good idea to cover up larger body panels with some newspaper or plastic trash bags. You can also use regular cling wrap as a quick substitute.
Wearing gloves is also preferable especially if you’re going to be applying a clear coat by hand since it can quickly dry up on your hands.
Why Wet Sanding is Better for Headlights
If you’re sanding down your headlights by hand or with a drill, wet sanding will make the process much easier. Wet sanding also makes the sandpaper or the sanding disc last longer since you’re constantly washing off the layers of plastic you’re sanding down (also known as slurry).
Dry sanding is less messy but the build-up of material on the sandpaper makes it less effective much quicker.
You should also avoid applying too much pressure while sanding, especially if you’re using a power drill. You don’t want to take off too much plastic from the lens surface and create uneven hot spots that are irreversible. You should also resist the temptation to run your drill too fast to make the job easier since you’re more likely to damage the lens.
Why Use a Headlight Clear Coat
No headlight restoration is complete unless you apply a protective layer of clear coat on your lenses. Without a clear coat, you’ll end up with the same cloudy and yellowish headlights after a couple of weeks – requiring you to restore it all over again.
Any type of restoration, whether you’re just buffing the lens with rubbing compound or sanding it down completely, will quickly take off the layers of clear coat applied from the factory. To prevent further damaging the newly exposed plastic surface of the lens, it’s important to seal it with a UV protective top coat.
You should also choose a clear coat that’s specifically designed for headlights because it not only needs to protect the lens from the elements, but it also needs to let light pass through without affecting its intensity. Most auto body shops offer headlight restoration services and spray clear coat that’s meant for car paint. These clear coats are very durable but it will refract the light going through it and make it look a little muddier since it’s not specifically designed to let pass through with no issues.
Another good option is to stick on a clear film that’s specifically designed for headlights. These films tend to last longer than aftermarket clear coats and can be easily replaced once they start wearing out.
A headlight restoration doesn’t cost much and is many times more cost-effective than buying a new set of headlights. It also requires less work since you won’t have to remove your headlights. In most modern vehicles, you’ll also have to remove the bumper to get the headlights out.
The AAA recently did a study that showed that vehicles with 10-year old headlights typically only produce around 20% the amount of light compared to new headlights. Upgrading to aftermarket HID or LED headlight bulbs does improve night-time visibility, but cloudy lenses will still limit the amount of extra light passing through it – making them less effective overall.
Aside from providing better night-time visibility and increasing road safety, a proper headlight restoration job also makes your car look better. This can add value to your vehicle if you’re trying to sell it or trade it in for a new one.
If you’re vehicle is still fairly new, it’s best to make headlight restoration a part of your routine maintenance. Spending some money upfront and putting a bit of time into looking after your headlights will save you hundreds of dollars down the road. Especially since modern headlight assemblies are more complicated and thus more expensive than they were just a decade ago.