If you have a vehicle made in the last two decades, you most likely have headlights with a plastic or composite housing. In the mid to late 1980’s auto manufacturers started to change from sealed beam glass lens headlights to clear plastic lenses that required a replaceable bulb. As the technology has evolved over the few decades, the lens materials have been continuously developed and improved to better resist the sun’s ultraviolet rays. However, early versions of plastic headlight lenses tend to be less resistant to UV rays and over time will start to yellow on the exterior surface. Beyond the yellowing, rock chips, scratches from road debris, and other contaminants will start to mar and etch the lens surface, causing suboptimal lighting performance. If left too long unattended, it could become a potential safety concern as visibility starts to become limited.
One potential solution is to replace the headlight housing with new OEM or cheaper aftermarket unit, but this can be quite costly. A significantly less costly but slightly more labor intensive approach is to restore rather than replace. For this task, you will need a headlight restoration kit which will make the job quick and painless. The process to restore is fairly simple and in most cases does not require the headlight housing to be removed from the vehicle. The basic process typically consists of a pre-cleaning to remove any major bugs or debris, a light sanding of the exterior surface, and lastly a polishing step.
To protect surrounding surfaces, you will also want to make sure you have some blue painter’s tape on hand to cover any surfaces that you want to keep from being affected by the process. The best headlight restoration kits allow you to complete the entire process in roughly 30 minutes per light.
The Best Headlight Restoration Kit
Sylvania is a brand that is well known for making many automotive lighting parts but they are arguably most well known for making headlight bulbs themselves. Just take a walk down the aisles of any auto part store and you will undoubtedly see the name Sylvania plastered everywhere on the shelves. The company has developed and manufactured headlights for decades for all types of automobiles ranging from classic muscle cars all the way to modern exotic cars. Whether on-road, off-road, or even dual purpose, Sylvania tends to have a lighting solution for pretty much any car.
With that said, it makes a lot of sense that Sylvania offers the best headlight restoration kit on the market. We like it so much because Sylvania’s headlight restoration kit is one of the easiest kits on the market to use. Each of the three steps in the process is clearly defined and the materials used are clearly labeled to make the process easy to complete correctly, even if you are relatively new to automotive detailing and bodywork.
As mentioned before, before starting the restoration process we recommend covering the surrounding painted surfaces (or anything you don’t want to be scuffed accidentally during the process) in blue painter’s tape. Consider it cheap insurance for your car’s paint against a rogue scuff or scratch during the sanding process. As it only takes a minute or two, we highly recommend not taking a shortcut here.
The kit does come with one vinyl glove to protect your hand from the applied sprays, so prior to starting, it’s best to put it on. The first step in the process is preparing the surface with the surface activator. The activation spray is a proprietary softener that will make the sanding process easier. Leave the spray on the surface for roughly 30 seconds until the yellow gunk starts to loosen and then wash off with water. You can then move on to wet sanding the surface with the included 400, 1000, and 2000 grit sandpaper sheets, starting with the 400 and moving to the finer grits in sequence. The sandpaper will remove the yellowing and you can then apply the clarifying compound in a circular motion on the surface. A second coat of activator will be applied after rinsing the surface with water. Once it’s rinsed off and your lens is allowed to dry, you can then apply the UV Block clear coat in smooth strokes along the surface with the included blue lint-free applicator cloth. Once that dries, the complete process is done. Your headlights will be clear and should look like new!
When it comes to value, Sylvania’s kit represents the best headlight restoration kit value on the market. It is remarkably inexpensive compared to other kits, and certainly way less expensive than replacing your headlight lenses. As far as available purchasing options, Amazon’s attractive price is pretty tough to top. Overall, the kit is top notch and contains everything you will need to restore the headlight clarity on your car whenever they need a refresh. We think you’ll be very happy! It’s also nice to have the peace of mind that while the UV rays from the sun will eventually turn any headlight lens a hazy yellow, there is a cheap and easy solution to fix them up. Happy wrenching!