Complete Headlight or Foglight Restoration: Fix Dull, Hazy, Yellow, Pitted Lights




Introduction: Complete Headlight or Foglight Restoration: Fix Dull, Hazy, Yellow, Pitted Lights

This will show you how to restore old plastic head/foglights that have become hazy, oxidated, or chipped/pitted so that they look brand new. Also, depending on how badly your headlights have deteriorated, you may notice much improved light output and better night visibility.

Warning: This is for PLASTIC headlights/foglights. Do not attempt on glass.

What you need:

Sandpaper - 400, 800, 1000, 1500, and 2000grit (total of $8 at hardware store)
ScratchX or PlastX ($5 at autozone, advance auto, pep boys, etc)
Soft cotton cloth, or microfiber polishing/waxing pad

Total Cost = $13......compared to hundreds of dollars for new headlights and foglights

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Step 1: Wet Sanding

1) Start with 400grit sandpaper

2) Get a bowl of water and dissolved a few drops of dish detergent

3) Wet sandpaper and sand with light to moderate pressure in horizontal direction.

4) Rinse, repeat in vertical direction

5) Rinse, repeat in small circles

6) Rinse

7) Repeat steps 1-6 with 800grit sandpaper, then 1000, then 1500, and finally with 2000grit

Here a some pics of the process to give you an idea of what things will look like after some of the sanding stages (forgot to take a pic of 1000grit, but you catch my drift)....

Step 2: PlastX Application

Ok, now you're done with the "hard" part.

1) Everything needs to be completely dry. So wipe with some paper towels and let air-dry for a few minutes.

2) Apply a few drops of PlastX to the lights

3) Use cloth or microfiber pad and rub in small circles until the PlastX begins to disappear
(You are filling in the fine scratches left from the 2000grit sandpaper to give it a smooth finish.....don't rush this step, it may take a good 3-4min depending on the size of the lights)

4) Once the PlastX is nearly gone, use a clean part of the cloth and wipe of the excess thoroughly. (You will hear a high pitched squeaking sound when all the residue has been removed.)

5) Stand back and admire your work!!!

Step 3: Prevent Future Damage

Now that your lights are looking new, you'll want to keep them looking that way for as long as possible.

I added 3 coats of car wax to each light to protect them from hazing/oxidation...2years later they are still looking great.

Also, you can try spraying one or two coats of clear acrylic spray for maximum protection

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    6 Discussions


    4 years ago

    Also, I would say to spend the most time sanding with the 400 grit. That removes the vast majority of dirt and yellowing. Took me about an hour per headlight. There's a small yellow sanding block used for automotive paint that is available that would help with hand fatigue, if needed. Small strips about the length and width of 2-3 fingers works best.

    Thanks for this instructable. I plan to polish and wax it 2 more times within this week.


    4 years ago

    I just did it to a 2005 Camry that desperately needed it. Visibility, especially in the rain, was practically nil. I went from 400 to 600 grit and then, 1000. I couldn't get the 800. Local hardware store wanted $40 for all the sandpaper. I got mine at autozone for $20. Used a polish called Novus for motorcycles and a cleaner wax in a spray can.

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    9 years ago on Introduction

    Nice one. I learned the trick of using 1500, and wet sanding it. They showed me that at the bodyshop. But I didn't know you could completely do this.. Awesome instructable!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Are those Dodge Neon headlamps? Those yellow so bad, Ive seen some that look as bad as when you scuffed it with 400, just more yellow tinge! I have to take the headlights out of my 94 Plymouth Voyager, and buff them with white rouge on my buffing wheel, Ive seen Plastex before, Ill have to give it a try!


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Those are actually 2001 Maxima foglights. And the PlastX alone is garbage, doesn't do a thing. I actually applied 3 coats of PlastX to the left light in the second pic before I tried the sanding...and as you can see it did nothing.