Want to give the headlamps of your car an all-new look? Follow these easy DIY tips and make the car headlights appear like new again.
Cars are magnificent machines. Magnificent and Pricey! Cars need maintenance and care. Car-care procedures are underrated. For instance, take headlights. Now, it doesn’t matter how cool, fast and latest your car is, if your headlights are hazy and foggy, it just spoils everything! Moreover, when the lenses on your car headlights get hazy and oxidized, they disperse the light and reduce visibility. Therefore, to ensure your vehicle’s safety, it’s important to clean your car’s Headlights properly.
Two major factors that lead to foggy headlights: road debris and UV rays from the sun. Both erode the protective coating on headlights. To fix the situation, the damaged coating needs to be removed and a new protective coating is added.
To prevent the headlamps of your car, you should apply the DIY steps mentioned in this article to clean your headlights at home without having to spend big bucks at the service centers.
Things You Will Need
- Dish detergent
- Car washcloth
- Several microfiber detailed rags
- Painter’s tape
- Rubber spatula
- Foam sanding block or large, thick household sponge
- Approximately five 8-inch strips of 500-grit “dry” sandpaper – or two full-size sheets
- Approximately five 8-inch strips, each of 1000 and 2000 grit “wet” sandpaper or two sheets each
- Gallon pitcher
- Spray bottle
- Headlight lens or plastic polish
- Rubbing alcohol
- Headlight lens seal
Handy Tips to Shop
- Visit an auto-parts store or an auto-care store to do your purchasing. Most of the stores have DIY headlight cleaning kits or complete cleaning kits. These kits have everything from sandpaper to polishing paste/liquid. This will make your work a whole lot easier.
Pay attention to the kind of kit that you purchase. They are available in two basic varieties: Hand-polishing kits and Machine-polishing kits (which include a drill fitting for your own electric drill). Both come with a step-by-step direction guide. The hand-polishing kits work almost like the process we have discussed above.
- A big NO-NO to using toothpaste or baking sodas as cheap alternatives for polish gels. Many online hacks suggest using these but we strictly forbid! We will tell you why. It’s because the paste made from baking soda and soap is equal to about 3000-grit polish, is insufficient to really remove oxidation. Similarly, toothpaste varies from 2500-grit all the way down to 180-grit, which means you would have sanded your headlights with a paste far too course for them.
Steps To Follow for Mirror Shine & Finish
Regular road grit and grime can make your headlights look dirty and hazy to a degree that can make a more accurate diagnosis difficult. So first and foremost, try washing the headlight with a soap solution.
Scrub the lens and area around it properly using dish detergent solution. Use a harsh detergent as it strips your car’s wax and dries out your car paint. Normally you wouldn’t want this, but in this case, you do. Rinse and allow it to dry completely.
Now is the turn to use the Painter’s Tape. Wrap it around your car’s headlights properly with a wide margin. Ensure that the rubber sealing around the headlights is also covered. Use extra tape to ensure maximum safety.
Use a rubber spatula to tuck the tape in the crevices around the headlight and the rubber sealing. Use a razor to trim away excess tape at the confluence of the rubber seal and the lens.
Take a foam sanding block or a large dish sponge. Now wrap the 500-Grit Sandpaper around the sponge. The foam helps distribute pressure on the sandpaper so you don’t leave deep gouges in the lens. Any time you’re using sandpaper around the car, you want to make sure you don’t get too vigorous and scratch the paint.
Now use the sandpaper folded sponge to sand the headlights. Just press the material on the headlight and start scrubbing in a back-and-forth motion. Also, keep changing the direction of sanding every 10 seconds or so.
The straight-line strokes and alternate direction will help in a perfect finish. It will also avoid circular, swirly patterns forming on the headlight.
Use even pressure and sand away at the headlight, until you have an even, dull finish.
If the factory coating begins to come off, you will notice a hazy line begins to appear and changes shape as it is sanded off. It is generally best to sand the coating completely off. Your car headlight should now be uniformly hazy and completely opaque.
Wipe the headlights using a soft microfiber cloth. Check your work. The sanded headlights should now have evenly sanded edges and corners. After checking thoroughly, rinse the headlight with clean warm water.
After going over the headlights with your coarse paper, switch to sandpaper with a higher grit count. For this, first, fill the gallon pitcher with water. Add the detergent to it. Now take few pieces of 1000 or 2000-grit sandpaper and soak them in the pitcher.
Take a spray bottle and fill it with soapy water from the pitcher. Spray it all over the headlights till they turn misty. Wrap the large sponge with the 100-grit sandpaper and repeat the sanding process just as you did in step 7. Keep spraying the headlights whenever you change the sanding direction to keep it wet and smooth. Repeat the process until the finish changes from dull to satiny.
After you have dried the headlights properly, inspect your work again. Look for rough spots and irregularities. Inspect from an angle so that you don’t miss anything. In case you find irregularities, re-wash the lens and continue the sanding process with a fresh piece of sandpaper.
Now switch to the 2000-grit sandpaper. Wash the headlights again and similarly continue the sanding process. Rinse and dry the lens completely when you’re finished. The lens paper should be almost uniformly clear now with slight hazing but no yellow tinge. Headlights with an interior texture where you cannot necessarily see the bulb, you can usually stop at 1500-grit.
It’s time to polish your headlights! If you are using a liquid polish, you can smear it directly, as thick polish lines, over the headlight top. If you have a paste textured polish, take a glob of paste on a small 4X4 piece of clean microfiber towel and smear it all over the lens.
Polish properly covering every inch of your headlights until it’s uniformly covered. Add more polish if needed. Polishing should be done by applying adequate pressure, neither less nor in excess. Work in a circular motion, polishing repeatedly and uniformly. Divide the work into small sections of the headlight. It should take less than five minutes or so for the section to start looking clearer. Once you’ve buffed a portion, move on to the next one. However, the longer you polish, the better the results. Stop when every section is uniformly polished and feels smooth.
Ensure that the polish should not contain peroxide or whitening agents and additives. Visit an auto-care shop to purchase the best products.
Wash the headlight with detergent water, rinse thoroughly, and allow to dry completely. Wipe the lens with alcohol and a clean, soft towel. Spray with a lens sealer and wipe it off with a lint-free towel. Do as directed on your sealer’s packaging as it will yield the best results.
Sit back and praise yourself. You did a good job! With the lens crystal clear and satin-smooth, the sealer filling in any minor imperfections to form a perfect, glass-like surface, your headlights will shine like diamonds in the sun.