We’ve all seen it, either on our own car, or on someone else’s. We’ve all seen foggy, scratched, pitted headlights. Not only do these headlights look terrible, they can compromise your ability to see in the dark, when you need your headlights the most. Why does this happen? Modern headlight lenses are made of plastic. Over time, pieces of dirt and grit from the road, combined with the UV rays of sunlight cause your headlights to degrade, taking them from crystal clear to a milky white. It may seem like there’s nothing you can do to fix your headlights, but there are actually options. The solution to this problem is headlight restoration.
If you walk into any auto parts store, you’re sure to see several different products all claiming to restore your headlights to their factory appearance. None of these products are very expensive, and they shouldn’t be; none of them work very well. The results of using these consumer grade products are iffy at best. Professional headlight restoration is a much better option. Professionals use products and equipment that are simply not available to home mechanics. Even if you had the right tools, which you really want to risk damaging a $300 headlight assembly?
The process of professional headlight restoration includes three steps. Sanding the surface of the headlight comes first. Three progressively finer grits of sandpaper are used, leaving the headlight perfectly smooth, though still cloudy.
The next step is a thorough wipe down with an alcohol-based cleaner. This removes all traces of oil or any other impurities that could interfere with the headlight restoration process. Then, the surface of the headlight is treated with a specially formulated product that will restore the clear, factory look.
This is where the consumer process ends, but there is one more step in the professional process. To ensure a long-lasting, durable shine, the fresh surface needs to be cured by exposure to ultraviolet light. UV rays can cause minor burns and eye damage, so this is not something that the average shade tree mechanic should be working with. Once these steps are done, your headlights will not only look like new again; they will stay looking great for a long time to come. In fact, any reputable shop should guarantee this work for at least two years.
Very few things will make a car look worse than dingy, clouded headlight lenses; even an otherwise great looking car could look like a piece of junk. Cloudy headlights are not just ugly though, they are potentially unsafe. Whether you want your car to look its best or you’re considering selling your car and you want to get top dollar, you need to think about professional headlight restoration.