Top 8 Headlight Restoration Kits
By | Last updated: December 17, 2020
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 – particularly those on entry-level machines – will wind up in this sorry state.

We’ll leave the ‘why’ for another day. This post is meant to give you a hand with restoring those yellowed headlights to their former translucence. Not only do the things 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 they’ll also decrease the value of your car, as curbside buyers and used car managers alike always look for any excuse to lowball sellers.

Rounding up eight selections, we learned there is no shortage of options for this DIY job on the market today. And, no, toothpaste doesn’t really work well despite what that video on YouTube says. 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.

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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

2. Power Tool Option: Mothers 07251 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 Choice: Rain-X 800001810 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, 16 fl. oz

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

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.

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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. CLT Car Headlight Restoration Kit, Headlight Restorer Wipes

This is another off-brand, no-tools-required kit which shockingly 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. One person raved about the rejuvenation of the lights on their Prius, for example. <any seem to be of the mind that if this stuff doesn’t work even slightly, the directions weren’t properly followed. Indeed, this is borne out by a 4.1 out of 5-star aggregate rating comprised of mostly five or one-star ratings (with little in between).

Pros/Inexpensive, more than the scattered bit of good feedback
Cons/Read the directions ... carefully
Bottom Line/Worth a shot

7. Meguiar's G2000 Perfect Clarity Two Step 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?

8. TriNova Headlight Restoration Kit

This lens polish system is promoted as using an advanced formula of cleaners to rid a headlight of grime, debris, residue, or anything else that might be clouding the beams. The solution can be applied with the included sandpaper pad or a person can use their own with a drill for heavy duty buffing action (and who doesn’t like heavy duty buffing action?).

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The polish and protectant is said to include a measure of sealant which allows the hard work you just put in to last for several months. An abundance of pictures provided by customers along with their feedback show hazy lights being restored to a fairly clear finish.

Pros/Includes a healthy amount of liquid cleaning product, made in America
Cons/Extra sanding tools may be required
Bottom Line/USA! USA! USA!

Headlight Restoration FAQs

Will these help all headlights?

If you’ve been parking your car in the Pacific Ocean on weekdays and letting it bake in the California desert sun on weekends, chances are none of these kits will help you very much. There does come a time when something can simply not be repaired, so make sure to temper your expectations if your car’s headlights are severely yellowed to the point of cataracts.

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Does my level of effort equate to results?

Probably. We feel that people will likely have some measure of success with the kits presented in this post. It does come down to the amount of effort one is willing to put into the process. Half-hearted attempts, especially with the kits which use sandpaper, will doubtlessly produce lackluster results. Apply a bit of sweat equity into it and the results will follow.

Any parting shots?

Choose a kit, get to work, and banish those fireflies-in-jam-jars once and for all.


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.]

13 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.

  • 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.

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