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Video:How to Clean and Restore Foggy Headlight Lenses

with Handy Andy

Rain, dirt, and UV rays can fog up the plastic covering of headlight lenses. See how an inexpensive headlight lens restoration kit can bring back the shiny luster to your vehicle’s headlights without the expense of replacements.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Clean and Restore Foggy Headlight Lenses

Hi, I'm handy Andy for About.com. Well, I just finished washing my car and it looks pretty good except for this dull headlight lens.

Why Restore Headlight Lenses?

Today most headlight lenses are made of plastic rather than glass. What happens is the sun's ultraviolet rays mix in with the road grit and the rain and it all works together to make this dull headlight lens. Replacing a single headlight can cost $200 to 300, or even a $1,000 on an expensive car. Today I'm going to show you how to make your lenses clear again. Now it's going to require some time and work, but the effort is worth the result.

Headlight Lens Restoration Kit

The trick to a real transformation is to pick up a headlight lens restoration kit from an auto parts store. Now, these come with different sandpaper grits, rubbing compound, and a disc pad that fits into a household drill and it costs about $20 bucks. That's not bad. So, if you're up for it, let's get started. Be sure and follow the instructions of the kit you buy. I'm going to show you the steps that came with my kit.

Prep the Headlight Lenses for Cleaning

First, I'm going to clean the headlight with soap and water. Next, I'm going to use auto painter's tape around the headlight to protect the finish of the car.

Remove Scratches From the Headlight Lenses

I'm going to use a few different sandpaper grits to get rid of scratches and defects on the lens. I begin with the coarser grit attaching it to the pad that came with the kit. You want to hold the drill flat or at a very slight angle. Don't use excessive pressure or hold the drill in one place. This can cause the lens to heat up and smear. Move at a slow, steady pace across the lens.

After a few passes wipe off the residue and look to see if you've removed all of the imperfections. At the end of this step the lens should have a white, evenly sanded surface that looks frosted.

Now I'm going to repeat the process with a finer grit of sandpaper. As before, I want to move at a slow, steady pace across the lens. Okay, now it's time for our third step, which involves sanding with water and this form disc, which will get rid of the scratches left behind by our two previous sandpaper grits.

During this step on many cars a white residue or slurry will build up on the lens. This means your reducing the sandpaper scratches. After I start to see the slurry, I make 4 to 6 passes over the lens.

Polish the Headlight Lenses

You know, I think it looks better already. Well now it's time for our final step and this is where the real magic happens. I've attached a foam-compounding pad to the disc holder. Now I'm going to spay it with a little bit of water; put a dime-sized amount of polish on the pad, and hopefully polish things out to a clearer lens.

Before turning the drill on, I smear the polish with the foam pad to reduce splatter. I polish the lens until the cloudy haze is gone and the clarity has improved. Then, I wipe it clean.

Clean and Restored Headlight Lenses

Woo! Look at that thing gleam! That did a pretty good job! So I used 3 different sandpaper grits and then a polish and it all took about an hour. So let's do a comparison between the headlights.

So you know, I think it was worth the investment in time and when you consider $20 for a kit, compared to $200 for a brand new lens, you know that's pretty easy math.

Well, I guess I better get started on my other lens there it looks like we might be having some rain. Thanks for watching! To learn more visit us on the Web at About.com.
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