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Plastic Headlight Restoration - Tricks of the Trade

Helping You Wrench

Scott Tsuneishi
Apr 12, 2013
Impp 1302 01 o+plastic headlight restoration+meguiars headlight restoration kit Photo 1/8   |   IMPP-130200-411-

A majority of modern cars are manufactured with headlamp assemblies made of plastic. The outer surface of the headlamp is molded of a material known as polycarbonate plastic. This plastic is lighter than glass and far more resistant to stone chips and cracks. However, after a few years of exposure to sunlight and atmospheric chemicals, polycarbonate has a tendency to get hazy and yellow. Fortunately, there's a simple and inexpensive solution. Unlike glass, the polycarbonate plastic can be polished back to a surface as smooth as new, in a procedure that won't take more than a half hour.

Meguiar's Heavy-Duty Headlight Restoration Kit uses a two-step procedure on headlights, taillights, and other hard plastics to restore its shine in no time. To demonstrate, we used a Honda Civic outfitted with a set of JDM headlights that suffered from a serious case of degradation, yellowing, oxidation, and scratches.

Kit Contents:

Impp 1302 02 o+plastic headlight restoration+meguiars headlight restoration kit contents Photo 2/8   |   Plastic Headlight Restoration - Tricks of the Trade

  • 1,000-Unigrit sanding disc
  • 3,000-Unigrit sanding disc
  • Unigrit hand pad
  • Easy-buff pad
  • 4-ounce PlastX
  • 4-ounce Headlight Protectant
  • Supreme Shine Microfiber Towel

1. Mask around the headlights with some blue, low-tack painter's masking tape to protect your car's finish from rough abrasives.

Impp 1302 03 o+plastic headlight restoration+masked headlights Photo 3/8   |   Plastic Headlight Restoration - Tricks of the Trade

2. Thoroughly clean any debris from the headlight lens with a commercial plastic lens cleaner or soap and water and wipe dry using a clean rag or shop towel.

3. Meguiar's Unigrit sanding discs are included in 1,000 and 3,000 grits. Dampen the 1,000-grit sandpaper with water or detailer spray and sand in a single, uniform direction. Use the sanding discs on the areas with the most oxidation.

Impp 1302 04 o+plastic headlight restoration+meguiars unigrit sanding discs Photo 4/8   |   Plastic Headlight Restoration - Tricks of the Trade

4. Follow up the procedure with the 3,000-grit sandpaper, also dampened, to remove any deep scratches on the headlight surface. The included Unigrit hand pad makes it easy to hold onto the sanding papers. Be sure to keep the surface wet at all times to prevent heat burns on the plastic.

Impp 1302 05 o+plastic headlight restoration+meguiars unigrit sanding discs Photo 5/8   |   Plastic Headlight Restoration - Tricks of the Trade

5. Next, use Meguiar's PlastX-a clear plastic cleaner that contains fine diminishing abrasives that break down as you polish. Use the soft textured pad to buff the headlight without scratching. PlastX will safely remove fine scratches, cloudiness, oxidation, and yellowing from uncoated plastic surfaces.

Impp 1302 06 o+plastic headlight restoration+meguiars plastX Photo 6/8   |   Plastic Headlight Restoration - Tricks of the Trade

6. After polishing the headlight, use the included microfiber towel to wipe off any remaining residue from the headlight. The next step and perhaps the most important is applying Meguiar's headlight protectant to block out UV rays and keep the restored headlights from yellowing.

Impp 1302 07 o+plastic headlight restoration+meguiars headlight protectant Photo 7/8   |   Plastic Headlight Restoration - Tricks of the Trade

If the lens is hazy or still shows remnants of any damage, repeat Steps 3-6 until the lens is clear.

Impp 1302 08 o+plastic headlight restoration+clean headlight Photo 8/8   |   Plastic Headlight Restoration - Tricks of the Trade
By Scott Tsuneishi
247 Articles

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