Do Headlamp Restoration Chemicals Work?


The headlight lenses in older cars often will become cloudy or yellowed. A variety of headlight lens restoration products are on the market. While a clear lens will improve lighting on road surfaces, these products have varying success in providing lasting clarity.

The Problem

  • A cloudy or yellowed headlight lens is caused primarily by exposure to the sun and weather. Also, normal driving on the roadway will produce scratches on the lens.

Wash-and-Wipe Chemicals

  • A simple wash-and-wipe chemical will clean and remove some of the cloudiness but not enough to be long lasting. It is recommended that it be reapplied every three months.

Polishing Chemicals

  • A better product is one in which the chemical is applied to the lens with a polishing disk. These kits typically will feature two or three polishes with differing grits that are applied in order of heavier to lighter, and finished with a cleaning wipe. You apply them either by hand or, in some products, with a drill and drill attachment. Because these are abrasive and remove the surface of the lens, reapplication is much less frequent than the wash-and-wipes chemicals. Some of these products come with a sealant to help protect the lens from further deterioration.

Sanding and Polishing Chemicals

  • The best results are achieved by sanding the headlight lens in several steps and ending with a chemical-polish process. Kits are available that include 400- to 600-grit sandpaper disks, 800- to 1,000-grit sandpaper disks, 2,000- to 3,000-grit sandpaper disks, polish, a drill attachment for sanding, and a drill attachment for polishing. Because this is the more complete abrasive and polish process, reapplication typically is unnecessary.

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  • Photo Credit front wheel and headlight image by Milovanoff from
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