Are headlight restoration kits actually worth it?

close up of car headlight
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New cars come with brand-new, incredibly clear headlights, but as cars age, the polycarbonate coating starts to degrade and they can become cloudy. Constant exposure to sunlight may also accelerate this process.

Foggy lenses can minimize the amount of light that emits from the bulb, lessening the driver’s visibility and becoming a safety hazard. Headlight restoration kits promise an inexpensive, DIY fix, but do they actually work?

After conducting tests, Consumer Reports concluded that headlight restoration kits are effective, and that they can improve headlights for as little as $10 to $25. Using a little effort, you can sand off the damaged area and reapply a protective layer to help restore visibility. (Depending on the kit, an electric drill may be needed, so keep that in mind if you don’t own one.)

The effects of the kits won’t last forever. Eventually, you’ll need to remove the haze again, typically after a year or so. If you’d rather leave it to the professionals, you can always book an appointment at your local body shop, but it won’t be as cost-effective. However, if you’re up for putting in a little effort to bring back your headlights’ original clear beam, here are five popular options available online.

1. Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit 

Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit 

$21.75 at Amazon

This kit from the brand Sylvania helps you restore sun-damaged headlights to their former glory in three simple steps. First, you apply the proprietary “Surface Activator” to the headlight to help soften the plastic. Next, sand and polish the headlight, and lastly, apply the UV block clear coat.

2. Cerakote Ceramic Headlight Restoration Kit 

Cerakote headlight restoration kit

$16.88 at Walmart

Give underperforming headlights a boost by removing oxidation. No additional tools are needed outside of this kit: just wipe the surface of your light, and then sand and apply the ceramic coating.

3. 3M Ultra Headlight Restoration Kit

3M headlight restoration kit

$15.98 at Amazon

For headlights that are in pretty bad shape, try this heavy-duty kit from 3M. Start by using a series of different sanding pads with different grits and your own drill (not included). Finish with its clear coat wipes and let it dry for an hour. This product can be used on headlights, fog lights, directional lights and taillights.

4. Turtle Wax Speed Headlight Lens Restorer 

Turtle Wax headlight restoration kit

$9.88 at Walmart

Restore cloudy headlights with minimal effort using this inexpensive kit from Turtle Wax. It offers a 4-step solution to remove dullness, restore clarity and protect plastic from future damage. In addition to breathing new life into dull headlights, it also removes scratches and swirls.

5. Meguiar’s Two Step Headlight Restoration Kit 

Meguiar's headlight restoration kit

$17.84 at Amazon

This two-step kit from Meguiar’s provides up to a full year of protection and doesn’t require a drill. Use the cleaning solution with the abrasive pads to remove the dulled, yellow plastic and then apply the headlight coating to restore it to crystal-clear clarity.

MORE: 9 tricks car detailers use to get your vehicle squeaky clean

Clear headlights help drivers be more aware of their surroundings during rainy or dark drives. The nice part about these kits is that nearly anyone can revive their headlights to like-new condition without spending a lot of time or money.

About the Author

Emily O'Brien

Emily is a freelance writer who loves connecting the dots among facts and finding obscure little details to weave in throughout her work. Whether she's interviewing Olympic athletes, small business owners, dessert cookbook writers, or world-renowned architects, she's passionate about shining the spotlight on good people doing remarkable work. More.

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