Headlights get dirty like any other exterior part of your car. Headlights have one more problem than the typical dust, dirt, grime and stain. The headlights will turn foggy. This is inevitable, regardless of what type it is and which model you own. The only variable is when. Hazy or hazed headlights are a result of oxidation. Sustained use of the vehicle will lead to oxidation at and around the lenses. This oxidation is the main culprit. Foggy headlights should be restored. Normal cleaning is of no help. No one should drive any type of automobile with foggy headlights, especially after sunset. Very little light emanates from headlamps that turn foggy and it increases the risk of accidents.
How to Restore Headlights
There are many answers to how to restore headlights. The easiest answer is to hire an expert. You can find a local car wash and auto detailing company in Raleigh, North Carolina. Let the pros get on the job and you can be sure of the outcome. The other options are mostly do it yourself projects. These options are only relevant if you have some level of experience in auto detailing and car wash. If you have never worked on the exterior and interior components of your vehicle, then a do it yourself project can be totally or partly futile.
Methods of Headlight Restoration
There are three popular methods of headlight restoration and these do not include using toothpaste or baking soda or bug spray. You may come across videos online about using toothpaste or baking soda to clean and restore foggy headlights. These have mixed results. It is possible the headlights will remain exactly as they were. The three methods involve sanding and using some kind of rubbing compound. The first simple method is to use sandpapers and a lens & polish protection. The second method involves sandpapers and rubbing compound or clear coat. The third method involves sanding, rubbing compound and polishing compound.
Stepwise Guide to Headlight Restoration
The headlights should be washed and cleaned. It is better if you go for a thorough car wash. Protect the immediate area around the headlights before you start the restoration. You can use a plastic cover. You may also use blue painters tape. Do not use typical duct tape or other materials. Now, the first step of restoration is sanding. You will need two to three sandpapers depending on the level of fogginess, which is to say the extent of oxidation and hence the severity of the haziness. You can choose five hundred, eight hundred and one thousand grit sandpapers. Some cases will require eight hundred, two thousand and three thousand grit sandpapers.
Get a spray bottle filled with water. Spray a bit of water on the headlights before you start sanding. The surface should be wet throughout the sanding process. There will be two to three phases of sanding and you shall progress from a lower grit to a higher one. Begin with the five hundred or eight hundred grit sandpaper depending on the level of fogginess. Observe how the effects of oxidation get undone. When there is no further transformation using a lower grit, go for the higher grit sandpaper and continue sanding. Make sure you spray some water from time to time to keep the surface wet. You have to go for a two thousand or three thousand grit sandpaper in the last stage of sanding. This is more to get rid of the scratches resulting from the earlier sanding phases. You should have got rid of a lot of fogginess by the end of the sanding process.
You can choose to use rubbing compound first and then polishing compound. You may use lens and polishing compound. You may only use a rubbing compound, but you must have some kind of polisher to restore the splendor of the headlight. Rubbing compound and polishing compound can be used just as you would polish a shoe. You must use moderate quantities of these compounds, as instructed on the label, and apply them in a circular motion. Always start with the rubbing compound. Using the polishing compound straight after sanding is futile. The rubbing compound should be applied and you must go through several circular motions. It takes scores of rubbing motions to restore headlights. The process takes a few minutes.
After you have using the rubbing compound or clear coat, reach for the lens and polishing compound or just a polishing compound and apply it. The same circular motion is necessary. You must not exert too much thrust on the headlight. Be gentle but keep polishing the surface till you get the desired glossiness. The deterioration of the plastic or polycarbonate will determine how glossy your headlights can be after getting rid of the fogginess. Always use microfiber cloth to apply the compounds. Use different ones for the rubbing and polishing compounds.