The Best Headlight Restoration Kits: I Can See Clearly Now

Top 8 Headlight Restoration Kits

the best headlight restoration kits i can see clearly now

You’ve all seen them – sad, yellowed headlights on the nose of a vehicle offering all the illumination of two fireflies in a couple of jam jars. There are several theories as to why some cars end up looking as if they should be extras in a 1970s French movie: exposure to ultraviolet light, constant assault from road debris, and just general poor quality plastic are some of the leading explanations.

With the majority of headlights on modern cars made of polycarbonate plastic, it’s inevitable that some of them will wind up in this sorry state.

Rounding up eight selections, we learned there is no shortage of options for this DIY job. Bin those fireflies for good and check out these eight potential solutions to restoring your car’s headlights to their showroom glory.

Table of Contents

1. Editor’s Pick: 3M Ultra Headlight Restoration Kit

Yeah, I’m a brand snob. Selecting a well-known name doesn’t always pay dividends but sometimes, as with televisions and breakfast cereal, you do get what you pay for. Such is the case here, with this headlight restoration kit from 3M. It also has an 4.3 out of 5 star rating.

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Customers report that, if you decide to use this kit, one will have to apply more than a little elbow grease. The investment of time and effort appears to be worth it, however, with the vast majority of users reporting great satisfaction with the product. The kit contains masking tape, light sanding discs, and a wax protectant. Break out the power drill (or not – the company says this kit works okay without one) and use that 3M abrasive technology to remove yellowing and built-up crap without damaging that plastic lens surface.

Pros

  • Well-known brand, much cheaper than a new set of lenses

Cons

  • You gotta put in the sweat equity

Bottom Line

  • Editor's Pick for best Headlight Restoration Kit

Yeah, I’m a brand snob. Selecting a well-known name doesn’t always pay dividends but sometimes, as with televisions and breakfast cereal, you do get what you pay for. Such is the case here, with this headlight restoration kit from 3M. It also has an 4.3 out of 5 star rating.

ALSO SEE: Buyers Guide: The 8 Best Windshield Wipers You Can Buy

Customers report that, if you decide to use this kit, one will have to apply more than a little elbow grease. The investment of time and effort appears to be worth it, however, with the vast majority of users reporting great satisfaction with the product. The kit contains masking tape, light sanding discs, and a wax protectant. Break out the power drill (or not – the company says this kit works okay without one) and use that 3M abrasive technology to remove yellowing and built-up crap without damaging that plastic lens surface.

2. Power Tool Option: Mothers NuLens Headlight Renewal Kit

You’ll definitely need a cordless drill for this one, which is not a bad take at all. Deploying a series of bit-mounted tools, this kit is designed to safely restore, maintain, and protect many types of plastic and acrylic headlights.

With the PowerBall 4Lights polishing tool attached to any cordless drill, apply a nickel-sized amount of the included liquid polish to the center of the ball. Polish the lens until clean and clear, adding polish as needed. Buff clean with the supplied microfiber towel and enjoy the crystal-clear results. A good company continues the sales cycle, of course, so Mother’s recommends applying liquid polish, by hand or with the PowerBall polishing tool, on a monthly basis.

Pros

  • Compatible with common hand drills tools, plenty of how-to videos

Cons

  • Polish has the potential to make a mess if the user is careless

Bottom Line

  • Put your power tool to work

You’ll definitely need a cordless drill for this one, which is not a bad take at all. Deploying a series of bit-mounted tools, this kit is designed to safely restore, maintain, and protect many types of plastic and acrylic headlights.

With the PowerBall 4Lights polishing tool attached to any cordless drill, apply a nickel-sized amount of the included liquid polish to the center of the ball. Polish the lens until clean and clear, adding polish as needed. Buff clean with the supplied microfiber towel and enjoy the crystal-clear results. A good company continues the sales cycle, of course, so Mother’s recommends applying liquid polish, by hand or with the PowerBall polishing tool, on a monthly basis.

3. Budget Pick: Rain-X Headlight Restorer

For a cheap fix to a dirty headlight problem, check out this solution. Marketed by Rain-X, a very well-known brand, this liquid product is said to help restore clear plastic by removing haze and discoloration. This particular Rain‑X Headlight Restorer (sans application tools) is best for mild yellowing or haze on headlights while a more expensive Rain‑X Headlight Restoration Kit (avec application tools) is recommended for more severely oxidized headlights.

Reviews are all over the board, ranging from five stars of satisfaction to rants and raves about how the product does nothing. However, if one keeps in mind this particular product isn’t intended to perform miracles on a heavily yellowed set of lamps, it will likely live up to expectations.

Pros

  • Affordable, great for a quick fix to ward off discoloration before it gets out of hand

Cons

  • Doesn’t include any application tools, useless for heavily oxidized lenses

Bottom Line

  • Top pick if you're shopping on a budget

For a cheap fix to a dirty headlight problem, check out this solution. Marketed by Rain-X, a very well-known brand, this liquid product is said to help restore clear plastic by removing haze and discoloration. This particular Rain‑X Headlight Restorer (sans application tools) is best for mild yellowing or haze on headlights while a more expensive Rain‑X Headlight Restoration Kit (avec application tools) is recommended for more severely oxidized headlights.

Reviews are all over the board, ranging from five stars of satisfaction to rants and raves about how the product does nothing. However, if one keeps in mind this particular product isn’t intended to perform miracles on a heavily yellowed set of lamps, it will likely live up to expectations.

4. Chemical Guys Headlight Restore and Protect

Chemical Guys have made a good name for themselves, despite being a relatively new brand compared to stalwarts like Turtle Wax and Rain-X. This product is decently sized at 16 fluid ounces, so it should be more than enough to do the job on your car plus the kid's Power Wheels (What? Those are just stickers? Oh dear).

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Reviews are solid, as they are for most products by this crew. In fact, nearly 90% of users gave this stuff a 4 or 5 star rating, contributing to its healthy rank with a large sample size. No sanding of the light is required, but it is optional. Definitely don't sand that light on the Power Wheels, okay?

Pros

  • Well respected brand, good sized bottle

Cons

  • You may have to sand the light

Bottom Line

  • Tell your kid to get his own stuff

Chemical Guys have made a good name for themselves, despite being a relatively new brand compared to stalwarts like Turtle Wax and Rain-X. This product is decently sized at 16 fluid ounces, so it should be more than enough to do the job on your car plus the kid's Power Wheels (What? Those are just stickers? Oh dear).

ALSO SEE: Buyers Guide: Top 8 Best LED Headlights for Your Car

Reviews are solid, as they are for most products by this crew. In fact, nearly 90% of users gave this stuff a 4 or 5 star rating, contributing to its healthy rank with a large sample size. No sanding of the light is required, but it is optional. Definitely don't sand that light on the Power Wheels, okay?

5. Turtle Wax T-240KT Headlight Lens Restorer Kit

Labelled with one of the first car-care brands your author can remember seeing as a young lad, this solution from Turtle Wax includes 3 restoration pads of various grits from 2400 to 8000 grit, spray lubricant, a lens clarifying compound, and a four-inch square lens sealing wipe.

ALSO SEE: Buyers Guide: Top 9 Best HID Headlight Bulbs for Your Car’s Next Upgrade

Those three multi-stage wet restoration pads focus on deeper discoloration and scratches to restore the lens to like new condition. That sealing wipe helps protect from future yellowing and discoloration so, y’know, you’re not out doing all this again in a month or two. At under $8, it is one of the cheapest multi-step kits on our list of the best headlight restoration kits.

Pros

  • No power tools required, affordable multi-step kit

Cons

  • Takes a serious amount of elbow grease

Bottom Line

  • One of the cheaper kits from a reputable brand

Labelled with one of the first car-care brands your author can remember seeing as a young lad, this solution from Turtle Wax includes 3 restoration pads of various grits from 2400 to 8000 grit, spray lubricant, a lens clarifying compound, and a four-inch square lens sealing wipe.

ALSO SEE: Buyers Guide: Top 9 Best HID Headlight Bulbs for Your Car’s Next Upgrade

Those three multi-stage wet restoration pads focus on deeper discoloration and scratches to restore the lens to like new condition. That sealing wipe helps protect from future yellowing and discoloration so, y’know, you’re not out doing all this again in a month or two. At under $8, it is one of the cheapest multi-step kits on our list of the best headlight restoration kits.

6. Wipe New Headlight Restore Kit

This is an off-brand, no-tools-required kit with surprisingly good reviews. It is billed as a simple no-frills headlight restoration system designed to restore foggy or yellow plastic headlight lenses by using a simple disposable wipe.

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Color us skeptical with that claim, but there are plenty of real-world reviews on this product that report an acceptable result given the time and effort required. The company also purports that one's car headlights are "guaranteed to pass inspection for the lifetime of your vehicle". For the sake of $12.99, a 4.1 out of 5-star rating is more than acceptable.

Pros

  • Very affordable, requires absolutely no effort to use

Cons

  • Effort often equals results in this case

Bottom Line

  • It's the price of a good cheeseburger meal

This is an off-brand, no-tools-required kit with surprisingly good reviews. It is billed as a simple no-frills headlight restoration system designed to restore foggy or yellow plastic headlight lenses by using a simple disposable wipe.

ALSO SEE: Turn Down For Watt: Best Portable Car Jump Starters

Color us skeptical with that claim, but there are plenty of real-world reviews on this product that report an acceptable result given the time and effort required. The company also purports that one's car headlights are "guaranteed to pass inspection for the lifetime of your vehicle". For the sake of $12.99, a 4.1 out of 5-star rating is more than acceptable.

7. Meguiar's Basic Headlight Restoration Kit

From the popular brand Meguiar’s, one you’ll recognize if you watch any sort of daytime car restoration show, this kit purports to restore hazy headlights to factory-like condition without the use of sandpaper or other harsh abrasives. Chalk this up as a good bet for head lights with light to moderate oxidization.

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According to the materials – and several of the reviewers – the process kicks off with a good soap-and-water washing of the headlamp lenses. From there, apply the cleaning solution using the provided applicator. This will take some work, so make sure to rub this stuff on the lamp in a firm manner. Don’t get this stuff on the car’s paintwork. Wipe it off with a clean towel, repeating the step until the headlamp has a frosted look, at which point it might appear worse than when you started. However, a couple of applications of the included spray coating (with drying time in between) works with the cleaning solution to provide a clear lamp.

Pros

  • Sandpaper-free application, results are said to last for a year

Cons

  • May not totally restore very yellowed headlights

Bottom Line

  • You thought we forgot about Meguiar's didn't you?

From the popular brand Meguiar’s, one you’ll recognize if you watch any sort of daytime car restoration show, this kit purports to restore hazy headlights to factory-like condition without the use of sandpaper or other harsh abrasives. Chalk this up as a good bet for head lights with light to moderate oxidization.

ALSO SEE: Flat, Busted: Best Portable Air Compressors and Tire Inflators

According to the materials – and several of the reviewers – the process kicks off with a good soap-and-water washing of the headlamp lenses. From there, apply the cleaning solution using the provided applicator. This will take some work, so make sure to rub this stuff on the lamp in a firm manner. Don’t get this stuff on the car’s paintwork. Wipe it off with a clean towel, repeating the step until the headlamp has a frosted look, at which point it might appear worse than when you started. However, a couple of applications of the included spray coating (with drying time in between) works with the cleaning solution to provide a clear lamp.

8. OPT7 Headlight Restoration Kit

This impressive-looking kit is on the lower end of the scale in terms of price but comes equipped with all manner of pads, compounds, and coatings. In a damning indictment of the 'low effort' options on this list, the seller of this product says "anything less is a shortcut that results in short term or poor results." Very good, then.

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The brand uses a ceramic coating, a process traditionally used for high-end detailing, apparently tweaked specifically for headlight lens restoration. Be aware this product involves a five-stage process, so go ahead and clear your schedule for Saturday afternoon.

Pros

  • Promise of professional results

Cons

  • Long process, across-the-map reviews

Bottom Line

  • Ample positive reviews from those who put in the effort

This impressive-looking kit is on the lower end of the scale in terms of price but comes equipped with all manner of pads, compounds, and coatings. In a damning indictment of the 'low effort' options on this list, the seller of this product says "anything less is a shortcut that results in short term or poor results." Very good, then.

ALSO SEE: Work That Body: The Best Dent Repair Kits for Your Car

The brand uses a ceramic coating, a process traditionally used for high-end detailing, apparently tweaked specifically for headlight lens restoration. Be aware this product involves a five-stage process, so go ahead and clear your schedule for Saturday afternoon.

Headlight Restoration FAQs

This is a problem, huh?

Yep. Not only do yellowed headlights look bad, there is the ever-present risk of poor lighting, creating a potentially dangerous situation for both the driver and other vehicles sharing the road. It’s arguable these cataract-sodden peepers will decrease the value of your car, as curbside buyers and used car managers alike always look for any excuse to lowball sellers.

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What's the difference between all these kits?

Effort, mostly. Some of the products in this list don't require any more involvement than the equivalent of wiping your maw after a feed of Five Guys. Others have more steps than programs at the Betty Ford clinic. Choose carefully and be honest with your own level of committment.

Does brand name matter?

There's a good argument to be made that the likes of 3M and Meguiar's and others of their ilk have been around for decades for a very good reason. Short of certain financial institutions that shall remain nameless, companies that produce a subpar product don't tend to stay in business very long.

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

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  • Dal20402 Dal20402 on Feb 23, 2021

    These products can give great results immediately after use but the results won't last nearly as long as the OEM headlights did. You'll just have to do it over every year. One way around this may be to prep and clearcoat the lights, but no guarantees the scuffed/coated surface will have the same optical properties as the original. If you are fortunate enough to have cheap new housings available for your car that is really the way to go.

    • Carrera Carrera on Feb 23, 2021

      They probably won't last as long as OEM headlights for sure ( my OEMs are Stanley) but I have used quality kits before which gave me 2+ years at which point I sold the car but they still looked good. As the optics being affected? Hmm...they look like brand new after cleaning. The mirror inside affects the optics. Not so sure I trust cheap, non-OEM Chinese headlight sets thought. Their optics probably leave a lot to be desired. I rather clean my OEMs. If one uses a top rated kit and follows to the letter all instructions ( if it says rub the paste on for 3 minutes, do it for 3 not for 2) and the said kit comes with clear coat...two years minium should be easily achievable, unless you live in Arizona or Saudi Arabia and drive in sand storms weekly. A good kit though, not youtube hacks using toothpaste and WD 40. That lasts for two weeks.

  • DenverMike DenverMike on Feb 23, 2021

    We're recycling articles? Is it to save the planet? Isn't it like a comedian repeating jokes you just heard 5 minutes before? So can we go back even further???

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