Introduction: Fix Cloudy Headlights the Right Way

Over time the plastics that make up the lenses on a car's headlights yellow and fog over time. Headlights take a beating on the road by everything; from dirt and gravel, to UV rays from the sun. The plastic lenses don't allow light to pass through as easily making seeing at night difficult/dangerous and negatively affects how the car looks.

The obvious, easy method to getting clear headlights is just to replace the headlight housings with new ones. Often new housings can be very expensive at several hundred dollars used or are discontinued from production with no replacement option. The third option is to fix what we have with some patience and costs significantly less.


Various Grit Sand Paper (400, 600, 800, 1000, 2000, 3000 grit)

Rubbing Compound

Car Wax

4 Microfiber Rags

Bowl of Water

Towel for Cleanup

Tools to Remove Headlight Housing (Varies by vehicle)

Step 1: Remove the Headlight Housing

You'll want to remove the housing from the vehicle so we don't risk any damage to our vehicle's paint. These steps will differ from car to car so be sure to find how to remove the headlight housings for your specific vehicle.

Disconnect the wire harness to the headlight bulb and locate any bolts, or screws that attach your housing to the body of the vehicle.

Remove the bolts/screws holding the headlight and gently remove the headlight from the body.

Be careful not to drop the housing as this could make our job harder by scratching the lens or (worse cracking or damaging it.

Bring the housing to a comfortable place to sit with the rest of our supplies.

Step 2: Removing the Oxidation

We want to remove the oxidation and any major imperfections in our headlight lens. Wet the headlight lens and the 400 grit sandpaper with some of the water to allow the sandpaper to move more easily. Work the 400 grit sandpaper back and forth in one direction down the length of the lens until the oxidation and any major imperfections are removed. Clean off the lens with some of the water and the towel. The plastic lens will look cloudier after this, but we want to start with a clean, even surface.

Step 3: Create a Uniform Surface

We'll make a uniform surface on the lens with progressively finer sandpaper. Wet the lens and the 600 grit sandpaper. Work the sandpaper across the width of the lens, perpendicular to our first sanding. Periodically re-wet the sandpaper to clean it and make it easier to use. Continue with the 600 grit sandpaper until all the scratches from the 400 grit sandpaper are no longer visible. Wet the lens and wipe clean with the towel.

Once all the scratches from the 400 grit are no longer visible, repeat the process with the 800, 1000, 2000, and 3000 grit sandpaper.


- Periodically re-wet to clean the sandpaper

- Wipe clean with a towel after finishing with each sandpaper grit

- Alternate directions when changing sandpaper

Step 4: Final Smoothing and Protecting

The last finishing step we do will be using the polishing compound. The polishing compound works like super fine grit sandpaper. Apply a liberal amount of polishing compound to one of the microfiber rags. Work the compound on the lens with moderate pressure. Reapply polishing compound to the microfiber rag and repeat the process until the lens is crystal clear. Once the lens is clear, wipe any excess compound with a clean microfiber rag.

Our last step in fixing our headlight housing is to protect it from future abuse from the outside. Apply a liberal amount car wax to a clean microfiber rag. Rub the wax on the the lens with moderate pressure until it is completely coated. After the wax has dried after a few minutes, wipe the excess with a clean microfiber rag. Repeat waxing once more.

To protect the headlight from oxidizing again in the future, wax the headlights each time you wash and wax your vehicle.

Step 5: Put It All Back Together

Reinstall the headlight housing to your vehicle in the reverse order from removing it. Don't forget to plug the wire harness back into the bulb and enjoy clearer, brighter, and nicer looking headlights!

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