How to polish your car headlights to make them shiny? Step-by-step guide

The fog that forms around each headlight is a widespread occurrence that can be seen with the naked eye and warns us that we should polish our headlights.

The back and the front result from prolonged exposure to the sun, unfavorable weather conditions, or even salt from the ocean.

Considering that the car spends most of its useful life exposed to the elements, it is essential to note that the headlights are typically made of plastic or polycarbonate.

These materials tend to deteriorate over time.

How to polish your car headlights to make them shiny

Also, it is straightforward to check because all you have to do is look to see if any “fog” has formed or if the headlights have turned yellow.

If your vehicle already has some years of travel on it and you want to avoid surprises in the ITV caused by insufficient lighting, we recommend you check on the headlights.

Remember that the headlights illuminate your way and mark your position on the road so that other drivers are aware of our circulation.

This, the integrity of the headlights primarily gives greater power in lighting.

If the headlights on your vehicle become opaque or yellow over time, this indicates that the outer transparent plastic is wearing away.

The difference in brightness that can be seen between new headlights and worn headlights is quite noticeable.

At the same time, the difference in cost between purchasing new headlights and doing it ourselves is pretty significant, given that changing the headlights can be quite costly for our budgets.

Even though what you are about to read in this article won’t fix our headlights entirely, it will, in some way or another, significantly enhance road lighting while incurring almost no additional expenses.

Because polishing has limited effects, it will never be the same as completely replacing the headlights.

However, we can guarantee it will be a solution for greater efficiency and appearance while driving.

When and how to polish the headlights of your car, broken down into their steps

Before doing anything else, we need to ensure that our headlights are in good working order.

The most apparent symptomatology is not to try to recall whether or not they were illuminated to a greater or lesser extent in the past (which is also relevant) but rather to examine the changes that the passage of time has brought about in them.

As we have previously stated, the primary factor that we consider is whether or not the headlight covers are covered with a yellowish or whitish layer comparable to a “haze” forming around them (more excellent opacity).

If this is the case, then you already have the primary indicators by which we need to polish the headlights of our vehicles and return the effect of translucent (transparent) to enable them to provide better lighting on the road and carry out their primary functions.

When we pass our finger over the headlight, if we feel some roughness on the surface, this is another very apparent symptom.

This article will explain the five steps necessary to keep your headlights shiny in a way that is easy to understand and does not require a great deal of prior knowledge.

1. Ensure that we have access to all of the required resources

You also have the option to buy in the shop a particular kit that will come with all of the necessary components and detailed instructions for its application.

2. Using the cloth, clean, polish, and cover the headlights as thoroughly as possible.

The first thing that needs to be done is thoroughly cleaning the surface to eliminate any residues that may have become embedded.

Remember that the headlights’ character feeling rough to the touch is one of the signs that they need to be polished.

To accomplish this, we will take a cloth that does not contain lint and moisten it with water and soap to clean the headlight.

Because there are tiny particles that can become embedded for an extended period as well as bird droppings that are very difficult to remove, it is recommended that this process be carried out multiple times.

After removing all stains and debris, proceed to mask the headlights with masking tape to protect all adjacent surfaces from the effects of sanding.

This should be done once the area has been thoroughly cleaned.

The finished surface of the bodywork that will not be treated in any way should be shielded from any potential damage.

3. Sand the surface of the headlight

Following the cleaning and securing of the area, the next step is to remove the most superficial layer of the headlight.

In other words, this layer must be removed to remove the coating that causes the headlight to be opaque.

To remove the worn part, you should use sandpaper of varying grits and, based on your intuition, choose the most appropriate.

Since the degree of roughness of the sandpaper increases in proportion to the number of grains per square inch, sandpaper with a grain size of 400 is the most coarse of those available; however, the most common grain sizes are 1,000 and 2,000.

Once the grain has been identified, we move on to the sanding step (which involves running it through water) to smooth out any imperfections and wear on the layer.

However, we must be careful not to apply too much force, as this could result in irreparable damage to the headlight.

Because of this, running the sandpaper through some water at regular intervals is prudent to prevent irreparable harm.

To begin, we must use the most aggressive abrasive (400), but only if necessary and always based on the opacity.

After removing the more significant flaws, we will use finer sandpaper to homogenize the finish and equalize the wear produced by the more abrasive sandpaper.

It is important to remember that the final finish will be more delicate and finer grain.

If you do not trust your strength or skill, you can use a drill with an adapter to perform the other sanding, despite the handling being a little more complex.

However, in this situation, we must pay attention to the speed at which the drill rotates and the pressure we exert on the headlight because these factors can also produce severe damage.

When you are finished sanding, the surface of the headlight must be white without any bright spots; if this is not the case, we will need to repeat the process.

You must always finish sanding with the least aggressive sandpaper (2,000).

4. Giving the headlights a good polish

Sanding will inevitably result in the headlights taking on a more worn appearance than they did initially; this should not cause you any cause for alarm.

When you are finished sanding, it is time to apply the polishing paste; however, before you do that, clean the headlights with the cloth from step 2 using soap and water, and then thoroughly dry them; it is essential to polish while the headlights are dry.

We will use the liquid polish that contains the silicones on our list; its application is not overly complicated.

In the drill fitted with the adapter, we will first place the wool disc, which is also included on the list.

Then we will apply the polishing paste before beginning to polish the headlight in a circular motion while paying close attention to detail.

Because the polishing paste contains very abrasive microparticles, which will be responsible for leaving the irregularities caused by sanding in perfect condition, we emphasize how delicate this step needs to be.

You will notice that the surface of the headlight will gradually and subtly acquire the transparency we desire.

This is what you can expect to see. If we have done it correctly, the headlights will appear similar to that of brand-new ones.

How to polish your car headlights to make them shiny: Guide

5. After thoroughly cleaning the headlight surface, apply a coat of varnish (if you so desire).

When we are satisfied with the result we have just obtained, it is time to clean everything we have done to the surface of the headlight.

After all, we have already sanded and applied an abrasive paste; the headlight deserves nothing less than being returned to its original state of composure.

To view our work, moisten the cloth with water and wipe the surface clean; pay close attention to how transparent the character is, and make sure it feels smooth when you run your finger along it.

If this is not the case, there is no need for an alarm; you must polish point 4 once more.

After washing the headlight with soap and water, it is recommended that you let it air dry before making any judgments.

The application of varnish is optional, but it is recommended because the previous layer of varnish will have been eliminated through the sanding and polishing processes.

A specialized workshop should be able to provide you with the varnish, which serves as protection for the headlight and increases its longevity.

If you decide to purchase it, it is vital that you allow sufficient time for the paint to dry and that you do not move the vehicle at any point during the process.

This will ensure that none of the preceding steps are undone.

Applying the sealant (varnish) may be the most detailed of all the steps that have been seen; therefore, if you are not confident enough, visit your reliable mechanic or follow the instructions if you think that you can.

These varnish kits come with clear instructions that will make it easier to apply the varnish.

If you feel uncomfortable performing this final step on your own, it is strongly recommended that you take your vehicle to a professional mechanic to have it done.

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