Clouded headlight lenses are a pain. Here’s how to restore them.

It’s amazing how quick those beautifully clear headlight lenses become yellowed and cloudy. Sometimes we wonder why the engineers who designed the gorgeous curves and angles in those plastic lenses haven’t also figured out how to keep them from aging so soon.

It’s not just their appearance that’s disturbing, either. Besides reducing the amount of light that gets through, clouded lenses make your car look older and not very well cared for. Potential buyers will note that telltale “old” look and probably move on. Click here to read.

Fortunately, you’ve got this! With some simple supplies and a little patience, you can restore that new-car clarity to your headlight covers.  You’ll need some sandpaper – 400-grit, 600-grit, and 2000-grit – and some rubbing alcohol, as well as paper towels, painter’s tape, scissors, plastic garbage bags and a spray bottle filled with water.

First, tape off the lenses with painter’s tape. Then spray the lens and some 400-grit sandpaper with water, then lightly rub the lens in circular motions at first, then horizontally back and forth (the wet sandpaper won’t make deep scratches, and the final clear coat won’t drip down the headlight because of the horizontal scratches).

Repeat the same process, first with the 600-grit and then the 2000-grit sandpaper. You should notice the clarity improving in the lens.  When finished, wipe down the lens with rubbing alcohol, using a lint-free paper towel, to ensure complete drying.

Next, open the garbage bags out and spread them over every surface of the car that might come in contact with the clear coat spray that you’re going to apply.  Carefully mask around the headlight lenses, using the scissors to make a clean outline. The tape must be applied firmly enough to prevent any dripping underneath; drips should go onto the surrounding plastic.  Now wipe the lens with the alcohol again and give it a few minutes to dry.

Finally, apply the clear coat in a thin horizontal spray. You’ll want three coats, allowing five minutes between each to dry. Let it dry for a full day. If there are imperfections, you can use the wet sandpaper routine again with 2000-grit sandpaper.

Finish it off with a coat of auto wax, if you’d like. And there you are!