I recently picked up a headlight restoration kit by 3M at Wal-Mart for around $15. Amazon and a few other places sell it as well. I chose this kit on the advice of a colleague who had good success with it on her Volkswagen Passat. I figured for $15, it would be worth a shot to try and restore the headlights on my Ford F-150 that have been yellowing for many years.
The best part about the kit is that it provides everything you need except for a towel, some green automotive masking tape (also sold at Wal-Mart), and a good drill that can operate between 1200-1600 rpm. The kit also contains enough sandpaper and rubbing compound to do two sets of headlights.
Here are our tools:
Here is what my headlights started off looking like after I gave them a quick wash.
Next I masked off the headlights with the automotive tape.
Starting with the 500 grit sandpaper discs, I sanded all the yellow off until I could see the clear plastic. Then I switched to the 800 grit discs to remove the scratches left by the previous sanding.
After that I attached the 3000 grit trizact disc, wet it down with a spray bottle, and wet sanded the lenses until they were nice and smooth. I did this until I could no longer see any scratches in the lens.
Finally, I attached the buffing pad, applied a bit of rubbing compound, and buffed the lenses until they were shiny and bright. Finally I wiped the lenses down with a towel to observe the final results.
I first thought was “Wow. That’s fantastic.” The lenses came out just as good as I hoped they would. Here’s a side by side comparison to see the full effect.
After seeing the positive results, my wife now wants me to do her car tomorrow. I guess it’s a good thing the kits comes with extra sandpaper.