How to Restore Foggy/Yellow Headlights

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Have a pair of yellowed, foggy, eyesore headlights? If your lights are foggy, not only are they decreasing the value and appearance of your vehicle, they are also significantly reducing your visibility at night. Here's how to fix that to make your car look better, and your drive safer!

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Step 1: Prep-Cleaning

Thoroughly clean the plastic with warm soapy water. be sure to remove any tar, bug splatter, or sap before continuing. Toothpaste or acetone can be used to remove sap.

Step 2: Starting to Sand

Sand down evenly with p220 sandpaper, dont under-sand, theres no such thing as too much sanding for this step. Make sure you don't miss any spots.

Step 3: Wet Sanding

Wet the plastic with warm, soapy water and continue to sand the entire surface over again with p600 paper. use a wet soapy cloth to wipe off dirty water and be sure to keep the plastic thoroughly covered with the soapy water while you sand.

Step 4: Smoothing It Down

Rinse off your headlights well and check for any remaining yellow plastic. (continue with p600 paper if there is any) then re-apply new warm, soapy water. continue to sand wet plastic with p1000 sandpaper until the entire surface is smoothed down.

Step 5: Finish Sanding

Finish up sanding your headlights by thoroughly sanding warm, soapy water into plastic with p3000 paper. Wipe off water to check for any uneven surface and sand as needed.

Step 6: (Optional) Enamel/Top-Coat

Dry the headlights completely and make sure there is no water remaining around and inside creases, or around the edge of the headlight's housing. The headlights are sanded so they will still appear foggy, but they should not be yellow. When dried, mask off around the outside of the Headlight with masking tape to protect the car's paint, and apply an even coat of automotive clear-coat. Allow to dry without driving for 42 hours before removing masking tape.

Step 7: Finishing Up!

Use caranuba wax or clear plastic polish to finish shining up the plastic to a crystal clear finish!

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    4 Discussions

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    tumicki.john48

    Tip 5 months ago on Step 2

    I would suggest instructing how to sand, if it isn't done properly one could cause a deep scratch in the headlight.

    1
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    tumicki.john48

    5 months ago

    I'm a collision repair technician. I can vouch for this method. With serious yellowing it may require a rough grit, but for minor cases I would start with 400 or 600-grit. Be sure not to dig into the plastic, keep your hand flat while sanding and use a squeegee or durablock.

    1
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    AngieB34

    2 years ago

    Ive been cleaning my headlights this way for years and have also shown several of my friends. After spending my hard earned money on lense restoration kits with no luck of them doing what they advertise i took a chance and sanded and sanded and then sprayed with clear coat. 2 years now on my truck lights and still staying clear even with several car washes.

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    Swansong

    2 years ago

    Good instructions :) Did you take any progress photos while you were cleaning them? Just for reference if you would like to add some progress/step photos so that others can replicate your projects then it will receive more attention from the community and be possible to be featured on the site. Here are some helpful guides on how to write out an instructable. https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Create-a-Fe... I look forward to seeing more great content from you!

    Thank you,

    Christa (Swansong) Community Manager