Your vehicle’s headlights are constantly exposed to the elements in the environment, and it’s little surprise that over time they may appear dull or even have a foggy, hazy finish. Not only does this affect your car’s appearance, but it can impact your headlight’s ability to illuminate the road ahead of you. That means it’s also a safety hazard if you often drive at night.
Day in, day out, your car’s headlights are exposed to various weather conditions, UV rays, and more. It’s only natural that those plastic lenses start fading, no matter how often you wash your car. It’s a good thing the market offers a wide variety of headlight restoration kits, allowing your headlights to appear brand new once again. But like nearly every automotive part being sold today, there are some headlight restoration kits that are easier to use than others.
If you’re confused by all the offerings in today’s marketplace, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve taken a look at all the different products currently being sold, selecting the top 10 and explaining why below.
For more information on headlight restoration kits, refer to our table of contents.
Updated 10/20/2020 with new product recommendations.
Table of contents
- 1. 3M Headlight Restoration Kit
- 2. Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit
- 3. Rust-Oleum Wipe New Headlight Restore Kit
- 4. Mothers NuLens Headlight Renewal Kit
- 5. Meguiar's 1-Step Headlight Restoration Plus
- 6. Rain-X Headlight Restoration Kit
- 7. Turtle Wax (2-in-1) Headlight Cleaner and Sealant
- 8. Philips Headlight Restoration Kit with UV protection
- 9. CLT Headlight Restoration Kit
- 10. Cerakote Ceramic Headlight Restoration Kit
- How Do You Use a Headlight Restoration Kit?
- How does Headlight Restoration Work?
- 3M Headlight Restoration Kit Review
- Pros and Cons of the 3M Headlight Restoration Kit
1. 3M Headlight Restoration Kit
One of the most popular headlight restoration kits on Amazon comes from 3M, a trusted brand in the automotive industry. This kit however, requires a household drill to be effective and takes a bit more time for best results. It’s a professional-grade product that can be used on headlights, tail lights, fog lights, and directional lights, and comes complete with 3M Trizact sanding discs and a polishing pad with compound.
Taking advantage of 3M abrasive technology, this kit removes yellowing and buildup without damaging the plastic lens surface. While the 3-step process is relatively easy to do from your own home or garage, it does take around an hour or even longer for best results. Overall, it requires a bit more elbow grease than other kits, but it’s also one of the most effective.
Unfortunately each kit is designed to restore two headlight lenses, so this isn’t something you can store away after use.
2. Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit
There’s a real good chance you’ve heard of Sylvania if you’ve ever had to shop for replacement headlight or tail light bulbs. It’s one of the most reputable brands for bulbs, so it’s not surprising the company also offers one of the best headlight restoration kits available.
The easy-to-use comes with enough product to restore two headlight assemblies back to a nice, clear finish. Best of all, it should take you about 30 minutes to do the job, which consists of a 3-step process. First, you’ll use the “Surface Activator,” which is a proprietary formula that will soften the plastic, making it easier to sand smooth. Then, you’ll do the actual sanding and polishing before sealing the headlight lenses with a UV Block Clear Coat applicator.
Designed to restore original clarity and vision to sun damaged plastic headlight lenses, this product will result in clearer lenses, allowing your headlights to shine brighter. Best of all, this product comes with a lifetime warranty.
3. Rust-Oleum Wipe New Headlight Restore Kit
A more affordable and easier solution to restoring your headlights is offered by Rust-Oleum with the Wipe New Headlight Restore Kit. This product is extremely simple and straightforward to use. You simply have to clean, wet sand, and polish your headlight lenses using the included polishing pad. Afterwards, you apply the Wipe New to give those lenses a fresh, clean appearance.
This product uses a nano-polymer formula and application procedure that removes oxidation from headlight lenses and protects them for years to come. It also works fast and dries in one hour, although it’s highly recommended to avoid exposing your headlights to moisture for 24 hours.
Rust-Oleum claims Wipe New will protect the lenses through 100 car washes and includes a lifetime guarantee to pass inspection.
4. Mothers NuLens Headlight Renewal Kit
In the car care world, Mothers is one of the most reputable brands out there. Its NuLens Headlight Renewal Kit is designed to quickly and safely restore, maintain, and protect all types of smooth, shiny plastic and acrylic headlights to crystal clarity. This product will easily get rid of yellowing and stains, as well as buffing out minor hairline scratches, smudges, and flaws in a single step.
This all-in-one kit utilizes a drill-mounted, precision foam polishing ball that quickly and safely restores your headlights. Mothers says most lenses can be done in just minutes using a simple polishing procedure. The tool is washable and reusable, while the included 8-ounce PowerPlastic 4Lights polish leaves a tough protective, oxidation-inhibiting polymer coating to guard against future abuse from the environment. Each kit also includes a 3-inch backing plate and restoration discs.
It’s highly recommended to purchase painter’s tape if you’re planning to use this product. This way, you can protect the surrounding paint areas near your headlights.
5. Meguiar's 1-Step Headlight Restoration Plus
Meguiar’s 1-Step Headlight Restoration Plus kit is similar to the Mothers NuLens kit in that it also includes an attachment for a corded drill. Meguiar’s version is called an “Easy Buff” wool pad, which is designed for a faster cut, truer clarity, and more control. When combined with Meguiar’s Plast-X (which is included in the kit), it’s quicker and more effective to restore your headlights than by hand.
This kit comes with a 4-ounce bottle of Plast-X Clear Plastic Cleaner and Polish, drill-operated Easy Buff wool pad, and a Stubborn Defect Removal Pack, which are sanding and finishing pads. This product is not intended for use on coated plastics, LCD, or navigational system displays. For best results, make sure the headlights are a cool surface before starting.
Once you’re done restoring your headlights, Meguiar’s also recommends coating them with its Headlight Protectant, which is sold separately. Meguiar’s Headlight Protectant acts as a barrier between the plastic and harmful UV rays, helping prevent future oxidization and hazing.
6. Rain-X Headlight Restoration Kit
You’ve likely heard of the Rain-X brand, which is mostly known for its water-repellant products. The company also offers an all-in-one kit that will help restore plastic by removing haze and discoloration. It’s a multi-step kit that includes Rain-X Lubricant, Rain-X Headlight Restorer, Rain-X Sealant, polishing pads, and a microfiber cloth. This allows you to easily clean, clarify, polish, and seal your headlight lenses for improved visibility.
Unlike the kits that require a household drill, this one can be done by hand with no tools necessary. Some users do note that the polishing pads are a bit on the smaller side, making them difficult to hold. But overall, it’s a minor trade-off to get effective results without requiring too much physical labor.
7. Turtle Wax (2-in-1) Headlight Cleaner and Sealant
If your car is still relatively new and you’re only dealing with light hazing or oxidization, you can save some money and effort by purchasing Turtle Wax’s Headlight Cleaner and Sealant. Offered in a 9-ounce bottle, this product is a 2-in-1 cleaner and sealant that restores clarity and prevents yellowing in 1 easy step. This product is basically a simple solution that won’t be as effective as other kits, but is ideal if you aren’t dealing with severely damaged lenses.
And since it comes in a bottle, you can use it multiple times as necessary. In a way, you should view this product as a maintenance item rather than a solution to a problem. It is formulated with OEM acrylic resins to prevent future oxidization and cloudiness from reoccurring. The cleaner and sealant can also be used on clear plexiglass, plastic windows, and other translucent plastics.
Again, this product is ideal for lightly damaged headlights and tail lights, but is an ideal choice for owners of relatively new cars.
8. Philips Headlight Restoration Kit with UV protection
Philips is a well known and trusted brand when it comes to lighting, so little surprise it also offers a headlight restoration kit. The company claims its product will provide 2 years of UV protection for your headlight lenses when properly used. This is a simpler solution that doesn’t require power tools and each kit comes with everything you need to restore both headlight lenses, but it can also be used on tail lights, turn signal lights, and reflective lens covers.
This product requires a 4-step process to restore your headlights: cleaning, sanding, polishing, and applying the shine and UV restorer. Each package comes with a 1-ounce bottle of water-based pretreatment, 1-ounce bottle of cleaner/polish, 1-ounce bottle of shiner restorer/preserver, a pair of 3/4-inch by 3-inch 600-grit sandpaper (coarse), a pair of 3/4-inch by 3-inch 1500 grit sandpaper, a pair of 3/4-inch by 3-inch 2000-grit sandpaper, and paper towels.
9. CLT Headlight Restoration Kit
Another product that comes in the form of disposable wipes is offered by CLT. Designed to restore headlight lenses in 2 minutes, these wipes use a 3-step process: clean, dry, and coat. Each package includes 2 yellow wipes for cleaning (one for each headlight) and 1 orange wipe for finishing and coating the UV protection layer for both headlights. This is a more affordable option for car owners who don’t have extremely hazy or damaged headlights.
Like other disposable wipes, the CLT Headlight Restoration Kit doesn’t require any tools or additional products to work. This product is effective on foggy, oxidized, or discolored headlights. Just don’t expect great results if your headlights are severely oxidized or hazy, these are best used as a maintenance item on relatively new cars, although they are decently effective on some damaged headlights.
10. Cerakote Ceramic Headlight Restoration Kit
If you’re a fan of detailing your car, you’ve likely heard of ceramic coating and detailing products. Cerakote offers a ceramic headlight restoration kit that is formulated to chemically bond to your headlights, providing UV protection for as long as you own the vehicle. That’s right, the company is so confident in its product that it offers a limited lifetime warranty that this coating will last as long as you own the vehicle. Otherwise, they’ll cover the next kit for free.
Everything you need to restore your headlights are included with the kit, which means no power tools are required. Just some good ‘ol elbow grease and time. Although the company claims it’s a 30-minute process to restore your headlight, the time and effort required likely varies depending on how badly damaged your headlights are. You’ll start with an Oxidation Remover to wipe away hazy surface oxidation, before using an ergonomic surface prep pad to get rid of deep oxidization. This step also prepares your headlight for the ceramic headlight restoration wipes, which leaves behind the layer of UV protection.
If you love the results from using ceramic coating on your paint, this may be the kit for you to restore those headlights back to their original appearance.
How Do You Use a Headlight Restoration Kit?
It’s always recommended to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when it comes to restoring your headlights, especially since some kits require a different process than others. Below you’ll find some general steps so you can get an idea of what is involved with restoring your headlights.
- Start by washing your vehicle’s headlights, ensuring that the plastic lenses are wiped clean of dirt, grime, and dust.
- Depending on the product you’re using, you’ll want to use painter’s tape to mask off the area around your headlights to protect the surrounding paint.
- Some products come with a pre-treatment formula or cleaning solution that can be applied to make sure your lenses are clean.
- Most kits will require the use of sandpaper to lightly sand down your headlight lenses. This step will vary based on the product you’re using, so refer to your instructions. Typically however, you’ll use different grit sand papers to get all the haze and oxidization off your headlights.
- Once completed, apply any sort of polishing or sealant product to your headlights to protect them from future hazing or oxidization.
How does Headlight Restoration Work?
Overtime, your car’s headlights will eventually succumb to the environment, causing them to develop a yellow or hazy appearance. This is normally caused by UV exposure along with general weather, dirt, and debris. These conditions will cause the protective layer of your headlights to break down, resulting in discolored lenses that appear foggy and old.
Headlight restoration products are designed to get rid of that unsightly appearance by using solutions that break way all the built-up dirt and grime. Some of these kits use sandpaper to wet sand the outer surface of the headlight, getting rid of the buildup. Afterwards, a protectant or polish can be used to clean up any leftover debris or residue, while giving a new layer of protection for your headlight lenses.
More importantly, restoring shine to your headlights will result in a safer driving experience. Cloudy headlight lenses can decrease visibility by as much as 40%.
3M Headlight Restoration Kit Review
Are the lenses on your headlights, tail lights, or fog lights cloudy or dull? Your first instinct may be to just purchase replacement units, but before you spend hundreds of dollars, you may want to check out a headlight restoration kit. Most lenses on your vehicle can be restored with some manual labor and a few bucks. Most quality headlight restoration kits are affordable and worth trying before you decide you need to replace the entire light housing.
Clear headlight lenses play an important role in keeping your driving experience safe. Foggy or dull headlights can affect forward visibility as a driver, while dull tail lights will make your brake lights harder to see for those driving behind you. So not only do restored headlights and tail lights make your car look better, but they improve daytime and night time visibility of your bulbs.
One of the most popular headlight restoration kits currently available comes from 3M, a well-known company in various industries including automotive. The 3M 39084 headlight restoration kit doesn’t require any power tools and comes with everything you need to make your lighting shine like new.
Pros and Cons of the 3M Headlight Restoration Kit
The 3M 39084 headlight restoration kit includes six sanding discs, four finishing discs, two refining discs, a pair of one-ounce rubbing compound and a foam pad—enough to restore a pair of headlight lenses. The kit is designed for use on basically every lighting product you can find on your vehicle, including headlights, tail lights, fog lights, and directional lights. It can also be used on trailers, snowmobiles, emergency vehicle light bars, plastic motorcycle lights, and other plastic lenses.
The combination of light abrasives, polishes, and protectants help remove scratches, dirt, and oxidization that can appear on your lenses over time, working in a way that standard cleaners cannot.
There are other kits from 3M that uses power tools to make the job easier, so opt for one of those if you have a power drill lying around the garage. Also pay close attention to whether the kit you’re purchasing comes with 3M automotive masking tape. If it doesn’t, purchase yourself a roll of painter’s tape so you can protect the paint and finish around your headlights, tail lights, or fog lights.
So how does it work? Restoring your headlights is a surprisingly straightforward task but it could be time consuming depending on the condition of your lenses. If you have ever polished or waxed your car, it’s a somewhat similar process. After taping up the area around your headlights, you use the various discs the kit includes to get rid of the dirt, grime, and oxidization that has layered up on your headlight lenses over the years. Then, you apply the rubbing compound to make the lenses shine like new, improving clarity and making your driving experience safer. Afterwards, you can apply a layer of wax protectant to the lenses, preserving all your hard work and the lenses from future wear and tear.
What makes the 3M headlight restoration kit one of the best? Aside from its affordable price, it’s a comprehensive kit that comes with the items you need to properly do the job. With over 5,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, the various 3M headlight restoration kits deliver great results if you’re willing to put in the time and effort.
So before you go straight to the dealership or a parts store to purchase replacement light housings for your vehicle, grab a restoration kit and put in some elbow grease. You may be surprised at the results!
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