How-To Clean Foggy Headlight Lenses on Your Car

After time and exposure to climate elements, automotive headlights’ and taillights’ clarity can be diminished due to sun damage, oxidation, and scratches. Cloudy, foggy and yellowed lenses can reduce headlamp function at night or during poor visibility conditions, which is especially dangerous during the Autumn/Winter season. The Turtle Wax Headlight Lens Restorer Kit contains the essential tools to restore headlight and taillight clarity at home, without the need to invest in new headlight lenses.

The headlight lens restoration kit includes: 

  • Precision Polishing Pads
  • Spray Lubricant
  • Lens Clarifying Compound
  • Base Coat & Lens Sealing Wipes

If you want to find an easy way to safely clean and restore plastic headlight lenses at home, follow our simple step-by-step DIY guide below!

Reading time: 4.5 minutes

How-to restore headlights - Turtle Wax - Causes of yellow/cloudy How-to restore headlights - Turtle Wax - Causes of yellow/cloudy

What Causes Headlights to go Cloudy/Yellow?

  • Most of the modern cars are made of polycarbonate plastic in order to save manufacturing costs and increase safety, in comparison to the glass headlights that were used traditionally up the early 90s.
  • As the plastic headlight lense experience wear & tear throughout time, resulting in damage to the sealant film, which makes the lens surface more permeable over time.
  • With continued damage and exposure to UV rays, the clarity reduces and the wear & tear shows up as yellow/dull surface on your headlights.

How-To Clean Foggy/Cloudy Headlights

How-to restore headlights - Turtle Wax - Headlight prep How-to restore headlights - Turtle Wax - Headlight prep

Step 1: Preparing Headlights

  • Begin by washing headlights and taillights with M.A.X.-Power Car Wash and water, and note the condition of the headlights when they are wet. 
  • If the lens looks somewhat clear when wet, you can expect restoration to be better than the current condition. The Headlight Lens Restorer Kit will not fix cracked or fogging inside the headlight. It will only restore the condition of foggy lenses and plastic.
How-to restore headlights - Turtle Wax - Apply Compound How-to restore headlights - Turtle Wax - Apply Compound

Step 2: Apply Clarifying Compound

  • After the lens has dried start with the Lens Clarifying Compound. Apply the compound to a soft cloth or microfiber towel. 
  • Using firm finger pressure apply the compound to the lens in a back and forth motion for about two minutes and compound the entire surface of the lens.
  • Then, let the compound dry and buff lightly with a clean microfiber towel. If the lens is crystal clear you have completed the lens cleaning process and can apply the Lens Base Coat.

How-To Restore Headlights with Heavy Oxidation

How-to restore headlights - Turtle Wax - Spray Lubricant How-to restore headlights - Turtle Wax - Spray Lubricant

Step 1: Spray Lubricant for Polishing

  • In most cases, if the lens was not clear after applying the Lens Clarifying Compound a few more steps will need to be followed.
  • Apply the Spray Lubricant to the green polishing pad and directly onto the lens. Begin rubbing the lens using pressure in a back and forth motion until the oxidation is removed. Be sure to keep both the lens and polishing pad lubricated with the Spray Lubricant.
  • Flip the green polishing pad over to the tan side and rub back and forth in the opposite direction for 1 minute. Be sure to keep both the lens and tan polishing pad lubricated with the Spray Lubricant.
How-to restore headlights - Turtle Wax - Continue Polishing How-to restore headlights - Turtle Wax - Continue Polishing

Step 2: Continue Polishing the Surface

  • Pick up the second polishing pad and begin rubbing the lens back and forth in the opposite direction with the teal side for about 1 minute.
  • Flip the second pad over to the purple side and rub in the opposite direction of the previous side for about 1 minute.
How-to restore headlights - Turtle Wax - Dry the Lense How-to restore headlights - Turtle Wax - Dry the Lense

Step 3: Dry the Headlight Lense

  • Dry the lens completely with a clean cloth or microfiber towel. 
  • Apply the Lens Clarifying Compound and rub thoroughly until the lens becomes clear.
  • Allow the compound to dry to a haze and then buff with a clean cotton cloth.
How-to restore headlights - Turtle Wax - Seal Base Coat How-to restore headlights - Turtle Wax - Seal Base Coat

Step 4: Sealing the Base Coat

  • You have completed all the steps and are ready to apply the Lens Base Coat and Lens Sealing Wipe.
  • First, quickly coat both lenses with the Lens Base Coat Wipe.
  • Once the lenses are dry immediately wipe them with the Lens Sealant Wipe which will prevent future yellowing. The coating will cure after 24 hours, but the vehicle can be driven within the frame.
How-to restore headlights - Turtle Wax - Summary How-to restore headlights - Turtle Wax - Summary

Summary

While there are multiple methods for cleaning plastic lenses, including household items, a specialized solution like the Turtle Wax Headlight Lens Restorer Kit is the best way to restore dull yellowed headlights and protect them from future yellowing. 

We recommend tailoring the application and method depending on the severity of the oxidation for the best results.

FAQ

  1.   What if I only have light hazing or cloudiness on my car’s headlight.  Do I need to use the whole kit?

We consider this light headlight lens oxidation. 

Step 1: Start by cleaning the headlight with the Lens Clarifying Compound using a soft cloth to spread and remove the product. It will remove surface oxidation.

Step 2: Finish with Lens Clarifying Compound and Headlight Sealing Wipe.  

Step 3: Let Headlight Sealing Wipes cure overnight.

  1.   What if my headlight lenses are extremely cloudy, will this headlight restoration kit make the headlights look like new?

We consider this condition as a heavily oxidized.  The Turtle Wax Headlight Lens Restorer will greatly improve lens clarity.  If the lens is micro-cracked or extremely weathered, it may not return to its original condition, however, lens clarity will be greatly improved. The Headlight Sealing Wipe will also fill in surface imperfections and also improve lens clarity.

  1. How long will the clarity last from the Turtle Wax Headlight Lens Restorer Kit?

This depends on the condition, age and amount of sun exposure to the car’s headlights. Generally, the restoration will last four to six months before some discoloration returns.  However, it will not be as severe and the new oxidation will easily be removed by using the Lens Clarifying Compound.

  1. Can I use the Headlight Lens Restorer Kit on other clear plastics?

Yes, the Turtle Wax Headlight Lens Restorer Kit can be used to remove scratches from Plexiglass, clear plastic vinyl and other clear acrylic materials.  Always use the Headlight Clarifying Compound first.  

If the plastic surface does not improve after application, discontinue use (the plastic may be too soft for this kit).

  1. Can I reuse the kit on more than one vehicle?

Yes.  The restoration pads can be used over and over.  Once the sanding pad surfaces wear out and are no longer effective, it is time to re-purchase the Kit.

  1. I still have some scratches I can see, how can I get rid of them?

Step 1: If the lenses still have some light visible scratches that are distracting, start by applying the Lens Clarifying Compound with a soft terry towel.  

Step 2:Rub compound in a back and forth motion with firm hand pressure for about a minute.

Step 3: Let dry and buff.  Two or three applications may be necessary.  

Step 4: For heavier scratches, use pads #3 and #4 again with the Spray Lubricant.  Follow by applying the Lens Clarifying Compound with a soft terry towel, one or two times.

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