How to Repair Cloudy and Hazy Headlights

Modern vehicles are equipped with plastic or polycarbonate headlight lenses, which become naturally oxidized over time, making them cloudy and hazy--even yellow--in appearance. This oxidization is accelerated by exposure to the sun's ultraviolet light, acid rain, chemicals used to melt snow and ice, the absorption of dirt and grime into small scratches in the lens, and pitting from gravel and rocks. Cloudy, hazy and yellowed headlights do not shine as brightly, and they do not illuminate the path forward as clearly as when the car was new.

To repair minor headlight cloudiness or haziness, start with window cleaner, a diluted degreasing agent or a commercially available plastic lens cleaner. If one of these successfully cleans your headlight lenses, finish by polishing them with polishing compound.

For more stubborn, but still minor, cloudiness or haziness, you'll need to apply a compound containing a minor abrasive to clean the lenses. Rubbing regular toothpaste, not the gel type, over the entire headlight lens is a simple and safe next step to eliminating minor headlight lens damage because it contains light abrasive materials designed to safely scrub and clean teeth. Thoroughly rinse the toothpaste from the headlights, and then polish them using a polishing compound.

To repair damage greater than a light layer of oxidization, you will need to remove the entire top layer of plastic or polycarbonate from the headlight lens. Using a wet-sanding technique, starting with coarse grit sandpaper and working your way to fine grit sandpaper, you can remove significant oxidization from the headlight lens, following the process with a layer of rubbing compound. After removing the rubbing compound from the lens, polish the lens using a polishing compound.

If you need to sand your headlight lenses to remove oxidization, remember that this is a wet sanding process, so be sure to soak your sandpaper in water for at least five minutes prior to use.

In addition to trying these methods to repairing cloudy, hazy, and yellow headlight lenses, you may also want to investigate lens repair kits at your local auto supply store. Some include all of the recommended materials, cleaning agents, and polishing compounds necessary to get the job done.

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