Until the 1990s, automotive headlights were made from glass. Then polycarbonate plastic was invented, and the headlight would never be the same. The new material was less expensive to manufacture, easier to fix, and more durable than its glass counterpart.
The only problem with the plastic was discoloration. As the plastic aged, oxidation would set in, fogging the headlights or causing yellow tinting. Thankfully, with a proper headlight restoration kit, you can give your headlight new life and avoid the need to buy a new one.
However, not every kit is made the same. So, how do you choose the best headlight restoration kit?
To help you make an informed decision and pick the kit that’s right for you, we have ranked the top six best headlight restoration kits we could find. To rank the kits, we compared the details of each kit against one another, as well as aggregated testimonials and reviews from product customers. While every experience is different, you can trust that one of the products below is sure to fit your need.
Comparison Table: Best Headlight Restoration Kit
Top 6 Best Headlight Restoration Kits
- Restores Headlight To A Like-New Appearance and Removes Haze: Headlight lenses on your vehicle can become yellow, dull,...
- Restores Headlight Light Output: Restores original clarity and vision to sun damaged plastic headlight lenses. The...
- 3 Easy Steps To Restore Long Lasting Uv Protection To Your Headlights: Step 1 - Surface Activator, Proprietary activator...
Sylvania ranks high among most “best kit” lists. Buyers can expect a noticeable improvement in both illumination and appearance, and headlights should maintain this appearance substantially longer than most competing brands. Expect to get your hands dirty, as each of its six steps involves manual labor, but overall, that’s what sets Sylvania apart. The by-hand application of the restoration kit dramatically reduces the possibility of damage to surrounding paint. The kit provides sandpaper that exceeds the size of other brands, making the application easier than expected.
The six steps begin with sanding the damaged area with progressively finer grades of sandpaper. Once complete, rinse, apply a coat of UV-blocking polymer, and stop for the day. Kit components include sandpaper, gloves, microfiber cloths, polishing compound, initial cleaning liquid, masking tape, and a protective clear coat compound.
The kit also includes a proprietary UVB clear application coat, which sets it apart from the rest. The coating protects against damaging ultraviolet rays, prolonging the headlight’s finish. There is also an activator that helps loosen the stain before sanding.
On one site, 126 customers gave the kit a five-star rating out of more than 150 reviews. “The instructions are easy to follow, but it takes a lot of patience and work if you really want to do it right,” writes one customer. “By the time I was finished, my shoulders were quite sore. However, the result was well worth all the work. My lights have never looked so good! Definitely recommended!”
Ease of use
- KIT INCLUDES:1 - Disc Pad Holder, 3.25 in (8,2 cm), 6 - 3M Gold Sanding, Discs 500 Grit, 3 in, (7,6 cm) each, 4 - 3M...
- LIKE NEW HEADLIGHTS: Easy heavy duty kit solution help your headlights look like new
- REMOVE HARSHEST YELLOWING: Kit is powered by drill-activated sanding to provide maximum clarity
The 3M Headlight Lens Restoration Kit follows the Sylvania kit closely, but because the best results require some skill beyond elbow grease, it gets knocked back to the No. 2 slot. This kit requires four steps altogether. However, it does work well on more than standard headlights. You can use it for taillights and fog lights, as well.
The kit includes sanding disks that attach to an electric drill to make sanding a bit more convenient. However, if you do not have experience sanding with a power tool, you might want to think twice or practice a bit before committing to the technique. A simple slip of the drill could cause damage to the paint around the headlight. The kit includes tape to cover automotive paint before sanding, and experts suggest applying the tape generously if you have not sanded using this method before.
More than 73 percent of nearly 5,000 customer reviews on one site gave this product five stars. Fans of the product touted its easy use and the results, though most made sure to point out the effort needed to get the best results. The grit on the sand disks is so fine, it was pointed out, that there was little worry about scratches. The detractors, less than 7 percent, either found the product difficult to use or had to use more than one kit to get close to the result they wanted.
Ease of use
- Designed to quickly and safely restore, maintain and protect all types of smooth, shiny plastic and acrylic headlights...
- It easily cleans away yellowing and stains, and even buffs out unsightly hairline scratches, smudges, and flaws in a...
- The included PowerPlastic 4Lights polish restores crystal clarity, leaving a tough protective, oxidation-inhibiting...
The Mothers NuLens Headlight Renewal Kit takes a slightly different approach than its competitors. Included in the kit is a precision foam polishing ball that attaches to a power drill and is used to polish and buff away headlight yellowing. It will also buff out hairline scratches, smudges, and flaws, according to the manufacturer. Sandpaper restoration discs help prep the headlights.
Like similar kits, experience using a power tool is a plus, since it can be easy to damage surrounding paint if the area is accidentally sandpapered or polished. Curved headlights can present a challenge for those new to power sanding, as well.
The kit receives decent customer reviews, with 64 percent of nearly 500 customers giving the product a five-star rating on one site. For one customer, it was the first headlight restoration kit he did not “loathe.” Following the directions closely leads to the best results, wrote another. Most who rated it one-star simply said it did not work for them.
Ease of use
- Kit includes: 3 restoration pads of various grits from 2400 to 8000 grit, Spray Lubricant (4 oz.), Lens Clarifying...
- Can be used on all lenses, plexiglass and plastic surfaces
- Restores dull, yellowed headlights to like new condition in less than 5 minutes per lens
With enough effort, the Turtle Wax T-240KT Kit can provide results similar to the other heavy hitters on this list, but the results do not last long. The trouble may be the kit’s wipe-on sealant, meant to hold and maintain the application effort. Unfortunately, the consensus among both customers and reviewers was that the sealant disappears rather quickly.
On the plus side, the kit is affordable, coming in at a price point lower than nearly all other worthwhile restoration kits (around $10). You do get what you paid for, however. Its materials, particularly the sanding pads, are smaller and less abundant. The smaller pads also make sanding and buffing a bit more tough on the fingers.
If your headlights are particularly foggy or highly oxidized, it may be best to avoid this particular product and invest in something a little more substantial. If you only need to do some simple restoration, however, you are looking for this product.
Reviewers on one site thought much the same. A little over half of the more than 2,000 reviews received gave the product five stars. Almost 20 percent of reviewers ranked in at or below two stars. Some reviewers noted that, because of its size, users might only get one or two uses out of the kit before having to buy another.
Ease of use
- Restores clarity to severely neglected, oxidized, yellowed, and scratched headlights.
- Includes Easy Buff wool pad that attaches to a standard corded drill for a faster cut, truer clarity, and more control....
- Inclusive kit contains all that you need to bring clarity back to your headlights. Kit comes with Easy Buff Sanding Pad...
The Meguiar’s G3000 Headlight Restoration Kit delivers an easy to use solution to worn out, oxidized headlights, even those with heavy oxidation. The results, however, don’t last as long as many customers would have liked, especially considering the kit’s higher price point (around $45).
Like most of its counterparts, the kit includes a complete set of sanding tools and polishing products. It also includes a microfiber towel for precision work, along with its Easy Buff wool pad. The Easy Buff wool pad attaches to a power drill.
More than 65 percent of 1,500 customer reviews give the kit five stars. One customer touted the kit’s ability to bring new clarity to his headlights, while another merely wrote, “It does what it’s supposed to. What more can you ask?” Those who gave the product one-star felt it did not live up to what it was meant to do, or made the situation worse.
Ease of use
- Restore Light Output: The headlight kit polishes cloudy headlights for a crystal- clear appearance
- Detail & Shine: Suitable for acrylic/plastic lenses for UV protection, light clarity, and visibility
- Easy To Use: Simply wipe dull car headlights with the headlight cleaning wipes to restore and shine
If you are looking for a touch-up more than anything else, the Fast Brite Headlight Restorer Kit offers a simple and fast application for moderate results at a comparatively inexpensive $10. Beware, however, that the kit is sold mostly through infomercials and comes with an accompanying shipping and handling charge. That price, coupled with the retail price, can knock the kit out of contention altogether.
The majority of customer reviews give Fast Brite a low ranking. Most stated simply that the product did not work. Those who gave the product a four- or five-star ranking said the product did as much as they expected it to do. Some customers saw a marked improvement in their headlights.
Ease of use
There is good reason to take a hard look at the next headlight restoration kit you purchase. Clouded lenses present a safety concern as they diminish the power your headlights have to throw light onto the road. Oxidized lenses block the light, cutting your ability to see in the dark, sometimes up to 80 percent. Imagine missing something that’s coming your way because you cannot see with compromised headlights.
Car owners in warmer, sunnier climates tend to deal with the situation more frequently than their colder climate counterparts. That is because ultraviolet radiation ages headlights more than any other environmental factor. Also a factor: the headlights’ shape and composition. Varied angles and more exposure to the sun can cloud lenses faster than headlights on other car models. Whether the car is garaged or normally parked in the driveway is a factor, as well.
Restoration kits provide an affordable option for getting headlights back to 100 percent luminescence, or as close as possible. That said, there are a few things buyers should consider before making a purchase.
Image Source: Unsplash
Experience with power tools
Many restoration kits include sanding and polishing tools that are made to attach to a power drill for easier application. For those who do not regularly use power tools, this can be tricky. When sanding, the speed of the wheel and the grip of the grit can send the tool off its expected trajectory. When this happens, the sanding discs may catch the car’s paint job, scratching the metal or tearing off chips. If you intend to keep your car in pristine condition, you should consider this.
Ability to do hard work
When we talk about “ability to do hard work,” we mean both the ability to perform manual labor for a sustained period and the ability to stay focused mentally. Even with a power tool, the work of sanding the headlight to a smooth, unblemished finish is tedious, precise work. If you do not have the patience for this type of work, you may want to consider other alternatives. At the very least, be prepared to pace yourself to get the most out of your purchase.
The right tools for the job
While most of the headlight restoration kits we reviewed come with nearly everything you will need, there are certain tools you will want on hand. If you do not have a power drill, for example, and the kit you purchased comes with a power drill attachment, you might be making a trip to the hardware store or your next-door neighbor’s house. Make sure you have protective eyewear and gloves, as well. You might even want to wear a filtered facemask since you could breathe in plastic dust.
When choosing between kits, take into consideration your commitment to the project and what you want to get out of it. Do you want amazingly clear headlights, almost back to factory standards? Or do you want to give your headlights the once over and will be happy with whatever results you can obtain with the least amount of work possible?
Knowing which bucket you fall into will help you decide whether to spend $40 or $10. It will also give you a sense of how much time and effort you are willing to put in.
As always, we suggest you do your own research before making a purchase. Use our reviews as a guideline, and share your experiences with customers looking for their own headlight restoration kit.
Last update on 2023-01-27 at 05:10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API