On my 10 year old van the headlight lens are becomming real foggy.
It`s almost as if they have been sandblasted.
What can I do to make them clear again? Can I use a buffer wheel in a
drill with some sort of rubbing compound? Please help.
"Headlight restoration kit" --
My son works at a dealership in the prep bay. He was a skeptic
when they told him to restore a couple headlights on a used car-- Now
he's a believer. [but for *his* car, he'd just buy a new set of
glass, despite the cost.]
Instructional video is good. You could duplicate materials.
I used to use toothpaste to polish up a plastic watch lens.
Any mild abrasive would work but at all costs, avoid solvents, as they
could ruin the plastic lens.
Nothing better than new lens, but you can defog/descratch pretty well
much more cheaply with the DIY remedies.
I used this on 2 cars. Bought it for 7 bucks or so.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
I did a Amazon review July 4, 2011.
That about covers it in my experience.
Just needed a clean rag.
I used plastic polish and a foam pad on my cordless drill.
But after a few months(in central Florida),it clouds up again.
the key is that the lenses are coated with a UV protectant at the factory.
I discovered a restorer kit that includes a packet of coating/sealant that
has the UV protectant,and it lasted over a year before my 94 Integra GS-R
was stolen,stripped and torched.
the name of the kit is CrystalView Headlight Restorer/Defogger,and I
bought it at WalMart for $20. It comes with polishing compound,ultrafine
sandpaper,and polishing cloths for badly scratched lenses.
I haven't seen it there lately but they may still have it at the online
The MGF website is MyHeadlight.com
Disclaimer; have no financial connection with the company or WalMart.
Actually I just use Bonami or Comet (household cleansers) with a
sponge and it works good on my 10 year old car. Honestly it comes out
almost as new. If you look real for imperfections, of course not new
but it's reasonably close .... surely works at nite a lot better
without a doubt. I never did this but I bet with a buffer, it would
be even better but for me, its easy enough to do by hand and looks
I use rubbing compound by hand. Works great. No need to spend money on
a headlight "restoration" kit.
This is what I use. I bought it for a car that needed some oxidation
I've seen it, on cars that sit outside all the time. Polishing/waxing
your light lenses at the same time that you do the paint keeps them
looking shiny however.
I recently bought an old Jeep Cherokee and apparently a PO had gouged
the 3rd brake light either by backing into something or else loading
something on top of the vehicle, so while collecting parts for some
other stuff I wanted to do (specifically, adding a factory fog light
switch and cruise control) had a guy that was parting out a wrecked
vehicle send me his 3rd brake light. It was all kinds of pink and hazy
looking, but I just hit it with some old Zymol that I found in my box of
detailing stuff, now it looks like new.
I've also noticed that the clear turn signal repeaters on A4 chassis VWs
seem to age particularly badly, although fortunately for owners of those
cars, replacements aren't expensive if they don't buff out.
Now why headlights, probably the most important light of the vehicle,
seem to weather worse than most other light lenses, I don't know - but
they do seem to. Maybe it's because a lot of them are "laid back" so
they are more exposed to the sun's rays than a typical taillight? In
any case most of the weathering seems to be on the outside of the lens,
and it's always related to sun exposure.
This is a reason that I like good old sealed-beam format headlights (so
I can replace them with E-code assemblies with glass lenses) I have
seen some European vehicle-specific headlights w/ glass lenses (VW
Corrado for example) but I don't think I've ever seen a glass lens on a
US market car outside of a sealed beam; I don't know why that is.
Plastic is definitely a step back in durability and clarity (at least
after they fog up) for sure.
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
yeah,any plastic polish works good for plain fogging.
I used a foam pad on my cordless drill.
the headlight lenses are polycarbonate plastic that's dipped in a coating
that is hard and protects from UV.
Glass lenses were great,but would shatter from stones thrown up by semis
and other vehicles. They also could not be molded into complex shapes
without great cost,and then there was the advent of halogen bulbs in the
Polycarbonate(Lexan) is less prone to shatter from such road debris,but
NEEDS the anti-UV coating to last. But it eventually wears away,and then
the lenses degrade.
The outside. The problem appears to be UV light from the sun.
I believe headlamps are made of polycarbonate. Other lenses are usually
made of acrylic (PMMA).
By law, plastic headlight lenses must be coated with an anti-abrasion
epoxy. It's that epoxy which discolors as a consequence of UV. No other
plastic lenses need be so coated, so those generally don't go yellow or
As for a fix, most garages, bodyshops, and detailing places offer headlamp-
lens-cleaning services. They work surprisingly well. Auto-supply stores,
Walmart, and other retailers offer DIY kits that do much the same thing.
I don't think it was a Congressional law. I think this one was an NHTSA
modification to FMVSS-108, the NHTSA's lighting regulations.
Automakers in the early-'80s petitioned the NHTSA for permission to
1) make headlights something other than square or round, so as to improve
2) make them out of plastic, which would help meet CAFE regulations by
saving weight over glass.
The NHTSA eventually granted permission, with the proviso that the new-
design lenses be coated with anti-abrasive compound.
I think the 1987 Mustang was the first car to have the new plastic design.
Those headlights were yellowing within a couple of years. They've improved
the expoxies a lot since then, but they still eventually go opaque in time.
Well, no, not quite...
NHTSA has a bunch of requirements that lighting must meet but they do
not mandate any specific material or manufacturing technique, only the
performance requirements the end product must meet.
There's a reg's that requires that _if_ a coating is used to meet the
performance standards (brightness, color, etc.) that that coating must
contain a UV-detectable component so that it (the coating) can be shown
to be present in the production products but there's nothing that says
if can make the specifications w/o a coating you have to use one for any
purpose. The practicalities are that coatings are needed to meet the
performance spec's but that's not the way the reg's are written.
The tests are multitudinous and detailed, particularly for color
matching. The weathering test is outlined as--
There are something like 300 pages of more fascinating bedtime reading
but the word "epoxy" doesn't appear.
But meeting those performance requirements effectively means the
application of a coating on the underlying plastic, since there currently
does not exist a practical plastic with the stability and surface-hardness
required to pass the tests without a coating being applied. My
understanding is that the coating ends up being a cross-linked polymer, an
I've no clue on actual materials; whatever the treatment(s) are the
spec's are performance not material based is the point.
The abrasion one is probably as minimal of a one as any; I expect the
photometry and UV testing are at least as difficult to meet. To my
surprise an impact test itself didn't seem to be mentioned...
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