How to repair dull and faded car headlights like a pro

How to repair dull and faded car headlights like a pro. Car headlights are an essential part of your vehicle and serve as the primary source of light when driving at night or in low-light conditions. Over time, however, the headlights can become dull and faded, reducing visibility and making it difficult to see the road ahead. Fortunately, restoring dull and faded headlights is a simple and cost-effective process that can be done at home with a few basic tools. In this article, we will show you how to repair dull and faded car headlights like a pro.

Materials needed:

  • Sandpaper (1500, 2000, and 2500 grit)
  • Plastic polish
  • Clean rags
  • Protective gloves
  • Masking tape

Step 1: Clean the Headlights The first step in restoring dull and faded headlights is to clean them thoroughly. This will remove any dirt, grime, or other contaminants that may be on the surface. Start by using soap and water to wash the headlights, then dry them completely with a clean rag.

Step 2: Sand the Headlights Next, it’s time to sand the headlights. This will remove any yellowing or hazy film that may have built up on the surface. Start by using 1500 grit sandpaper and gently sand the surface in a circular motion. Then, switch to 2000 grit sandpaper and continue sanding until the surface is smooth. Finally, use 2500 grit sandpaper to polish the surface until it is crystal clear.

Step 3: Apply Plastic Polish Once the sanding is complete, it’s time to apply plastic polish. This will help to restore the shine and clarity of the headlights. Apply a small amount of plastic polish to a clean rag and rub it into the surface of the headlights in a circular motion. Then, use a clean rag to remove any excess polish.

Step 4: Protect the Paint To protect the paint around the headlights, use masking tape to cover any areas that you don’t want to come into contact with the sandpaper or plastic polish. This will prevent any damage to the paint and ensure that you only work on the headlights themselves.

Step 5: Repeat the Process Repeat the process of sanding, polishing, and cleaning until you are satisfied with the results. This may take several rounds of sanding and polishing, but the end result will be a crystal clear and bright set of headlights.

In conclusion, restoring dull and faded headlights is a simple and cost-effective process that can be done at home with a few basic tools. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can repair your headlights and ensure that they are shining brightly and providing the visibility you need when driving.

Restoration kits

Restoration kits are are the most common answer to the problem and often are the only product you will need. These kits are designed to quickly and safely restore all types shiny plastic and acrylic headlights to crystal clarity. They are normally easy to apply easily clean away clouding, hazing and yellowing, and can even buffs out hairline scratches and flaws in a single step.

The kits normally included a specialised abrasive lens polish, applicator pad and some sealant that when applied leaves a tough protective layer to guard against future decolorisation and clouding. Some kits also include a sanding disc for badly damaged plastics and masking tape to protect the surrounding bodywork.

Most kits utilise a drill-mounted foam polishing pad to quickly and safely apply polish to the plastic headlights covers, bringing them back to full clarity. The polishing process can be completed in just minutes. Then a sealant is applied either by cloth or spray.  Once finished the headlights are often like new.

​On cars with very light clouding and fogging, you can simply use a machine polisher and compound to achieve a similar result. But in almost every case a restoration kit or specialist polish is better.

Toothpaste is an old trick for cleaning up headlamps without purchasing a kit. But the results don’t match the results achievable with a proper kit and you will only see minor improvement.

Using a car bodyshop

If a cars headlights are particularly bad and a restoration kit hasn’t done the job. You may need to employ the services of a professional bodyshop. They will be able to apply a clear coat acrylic paint finish to the lights restoring them to an as new finish. 

These clear coat finishes are available in spray can form, but the finish is always better when applied by a pro sprayer using a spray gun and car oven. 

Replacement lights

If all else fails you will need to source new lights. This should really be a last resort and hopefully you have allowed for this possibility in the purchase price. Secondhand headlamps are normally easy enough to find either online on sites such as eBay or Gumtree. However lights for rarer or specialised cars can be very expensive even when secondhand.


Almost 100% of the time a good quality restoration kit will bring cloudy and hazy lights back to passible if not new condition. But if you aren’t confident always allow for this before you buy the car. Obviously badly faded headlights can sometimes be an advantage when buying a car. Often a private seller will be unaware that headlight repairs can be carried out easily and economically allowing you to squeeze a bit more profit out of a deal.

Like what you’ve read? We’ve also written an article on how to valet a car and an Essentials car valeting equipment.