Top 8 Headlight Restoration Kits
By | Last updated: February 23, 2021
Best Headlight Restoration Kits

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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).

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?

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

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

Pros/Promise of professional results
Cons/Long process, across-the-map reviews
Bottom Line/Ample positive reviews from those who put in the effort

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.

ALSO SEE: Rack ‘Em: Best Bike Racks for Your Vehicle

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.]

20 Comments on “I Can See Clearly Now: The Best Headlight Restoration Kits...”


  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Step 1: Go to rockauto.com [and amazon – their selection is getting better] and see how much it will cost for a pair of new headlamps (the “TYC” brand is recommended if available). You may decide to just replace them; if not you will know how much money is at stake if we permanently disfigure the existing ones.

    I have used and recommend the 3M kit similar to #1 – the key is to get the 3M “Quick Headlight Clear Coat” UV protectant wipes (which are included in that 39195 kit). Follow the directions exactly, including pre-cleaning. Consider doing the job with the headlamps removed from the car (you may have to be creative in how to hold the headlamps in position on your workbench, but you have better access to the entire lens and won’t damage your vehicle paint).

    [I prefer those 3M wipes to the Meguiar’s spray.]

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      The best restoration is the one you don’t have to do. That’s why I paste-wax my headlights several timer per year. I haven’t seen any fogging or deterioration in my cars’ headlights, even though I park in a worst-case environment: outdoors at a mile high, with the headlights facing north at a bright yellow house that reflects back an extra dose of sunlight.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Thank you for that tip – a new pair for Mom’s ’01 Camry is winging it’s way to me as I type. Never thought to look, but it makes sense that they would be readily available and cheap. $80 from Amazon with new corner markers too. Got new bulbs as well. Merry Christmas to Mom!

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        Very welcome – keep in mind you will want to do some careful aiming of the new headlamp housings before returning the car to Mom. I recommend an extended test drive at night with the appropriate screwdriver/socket and a small worklight.

    • 0 avatar
      AlexMcD

      My experience with aftermarket lights is fairly bad. Mostly they are knockoffs with no concern for lighting the road. My current set on my POS are shiny and fancy looking but the light pattern would indicate that I left a rag on the light. Crappy visibility. Works best as a place holder.

      If your OE lights are functional, it doesn’t take all that long to use the power drill cleaners and paint with clear. Much better in the short and long run.

      • 0 avatar
        AlexMcD

        By the way, I used the same kit to clean my Honda backup camera lens and it works almost like new now. I took the lens off and cleaned it while watching Youtube videos of random crap, could not be happier. Honda, Shame on you for not making the lens a replacement item!

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I spent a small fortune buying OEM replacement lights for my 06 and 07 cars in 2020. I decided to invest in a protective film for them which was… not terribly eacy to apply to the first set. So much so that I have procrastinated applying it to the second set.
    I grew tired of polishing them every year and each time being more disappointed with the results than the last.
    I think the easiest thing to do is to park your car in a garage and never take it out. I’ll work on that.

  • avatar

    I’ve used the 3M and can report it works well. The lights on the 08 MDX had faded grey like the paint….

    Read the directions…it’s a three step process, and expect to spend some time at it. The first step scratches the finish, but don’t stress…each grind is finer until…. The result is almost new…and it lasted a year before I had to re-do it. The kit has enough for a few applications…the car lives outside so no break from sunlight/uv.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    The Blue Magic kit works pretty well, as long as your lights’ oxidation isn’t too deep. It basically includes a buffing compound and a wipe-on sealant. It takes nothing to apply but some clean towels and some elbow grease. You could do both lights in under one hour.

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/New-Blue-Magic-Headlight-Lens-Restore-and-Sealer-Set-Free-FedEx-2Day-/252626189415

  • avatar
    johnnyz

    I’ve heard that rubbing brake fluid on the lenses works. I have yet to try it.

  • avatar
    S197GT

    i also used the 3M kit and can vouch for it. it is quite a bit of work, definitely tape up the paint around the headlight. results still looked great a year later when we sold it.

    also have purchased new headlight assemblies off amazon or rockauto. 2001 ford ranger, that is the way to go. $20 each side and easy to replace.

    2006 BMW 330i, 3M is the way to go…

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    By the time they’re yellow, just get the sandpaper. The best you can get is a hazy clear, 1500 grit and up. So then put on the miracle cream. Or wax weekly.

    I’ve had great success with rattle-can clear (after sanding) but results can vary. At best, anything you do is a temporary fix, short of replacing them.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    If you have an oscillating multi tool, it’s perfect for sanding/polishing headlights. I used the Meguiar kit on an 07 Saturn and it worked quite well. It’s basically the same as superfine paint “cutting” compound plus some clear spray to coat after polishing

  • avatar
    StudeDude

    I have used the Turtle Wax Product with surprisingly good results. I use Simple Green 50% solution first to clean the lights and used the Turtle Wax up to 3 or 4 times to get a clean unit. The elbow grease is definitely required.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    I’ve used the 3M kit. I followed instructions to the letter. It took about 25-30 minutes per headlight with small water breaks ( Florida,in the garage, summer 94F and 88% humidity). I used them on my wife’s 2006 Honda Pilot that has been mostly garaged. The headlights lasted a long time but last year, UV rays and sand finally got to them. The lasted for so long because the car was mostly garaged, five years of its life wasn’t really touched by the sun ( Canada), plus after washing the car, I would wax the lense as well.
    I did them in May of 2020 and going strong…they look brand new. The kit does come with a clear coat to be applied at the end. That’s a must. Otherwise, it will not last long.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I’ve had success with the drill based 3M system on two vehicles now. Getting the headlights off and figuring out how to hold them during the process is the challenge. As others said its a long, multiple step process to get good results. However once done the lights will look brand new. Any kit that doesn’t include some kind of sandpaper is nothing but a band-aid. You have to remove the UV damaged plastic and no cream or paste will do that once the lights get beyond a certain point of haze.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      Carrera

      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.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    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???

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.