Simple DIY Headlight and Taillight Polishing





Introduction: Simple DIY Headlight and Taillight Polishing

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Its getting colder outside here so not too many more outside projects for me now but this one is worth it. It makes your car more visible and gives you more visibility in rain and snow storms.

I've seen a lot of headlight refinishing kits out there. Everything from pads and toothpaste looking goo to something that looks like baby wipes. I made a polisher a long time ago from a dryer motor and a couple of 1/2 in arbors to use for polishing gauge plates and other small automotive parts.

I figured I'd give the headlights a try the old fashioned way....

Step 1: Simple Is Best

I never bothered to mount the motor to anything. I just toss it in the vice when I need it.

You just have to be very careful not to melt the lens.

The wheel had plenty of leftover rouge on it so I just raked it clean with a screwdriver. There are years of red rouge stuck in those wheels so I didn't want to add any more.

I worked the light quickly from side to side. I put a few drops of #3 Novus plexiglass scratch remover on the light to help it along. I gave the light a couple of spritzes from the #1 Novus spray bottle polish to keep it lubricated.

Did I mention you have to be careful to not melt the lens?

When you're done a quick coat of Krylon Crystal Clear will seal the deal.

The difference was amazing and it only took 1 minute each!

Step 2: Taillights Too!

One of my tail lights had a small crack in it. It was noticeable from the right angle. I used some solvent cement to seal it but that left a small blister around the crack so I sanded that away with a scotch-brite pad and buffed the tail lights until they looked like new.

You have to look a lot harder to see the crack and from a foot its not visible anymore. Not bad for free and no worry about damaging the paint or bumper around the lights since they are off the car. They are only held in with 2 screws so it was easy to remove them. Not bad looking for 15 year old lenses! I didn't clear coat these so I'll see how they hold up to the sun.

You do have to be careful not to melt the lens......

I've even done bicycle reflectors and marker lights.

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    8 Discussions


    This may sound stupid to you but, did you do the inside of the headlight or could you leave them inside the car body and mask it off to protect the cars paint job? A great hint either way.

    You might have known a female would ask a question like this. Sorry!

    1 reply

    I had these out of the car for other reasons.... That and my Buffer is made from an old clothes dryer motor mounted in a bench vise with 8 inch wheels....

    When my son did his cavalier he used a drill motor with a 3 in diameter buffer. He left the hood up and used a little blue painters tape around the headlights with a scrap of cardboard inserted between the bumper and the bottom of the light. Had to change the tape once or twice.

    When you're done clean them well and spray on a coat of UV lens sealer. You can get the fancy stuff at auto stores. I use Krylon Industrial clear coat since I have a few cans in the garage already.

    Thanks for the reply. I will have to pick some up on my next trip to town. I have some other plastic things I'd like to try and polish. Excellent tute.

    The only thing you forgot to mention was about the rouge. How do I know what to buy as far as type, color, ?????

    2 replies

    Come to think of it I bet some Dupont white polishing compound would work too.

    For me its what was nearby......

    Yep, I just added that and a few pics. I usually use Red Rouge. The stick I have is almost 2 decades old. It shriveled a bit and probably got a bit rougher with all that sawdust stuck to it.

    I didnt add any fresh rouge. I actually raked the wheels to get rid of some of the crud in the wheels.

    The #1 Novus spray wold have been enough to refinish a cloudy lens. The #3 was needed for the one I glued up the crack on.....

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    I don't know why I never thought of using a buffer wheel to do this! Thanks for the ible

    1 reply


    I had to try it. I had previously restored a screwdriver handle that had become chewed up and that came out good enough to make me try other plastics.