Dull headlights like new again in five steps

you see them regularly on the road: cars whose headlights have just turned into a tealight. Older cars in particular suffer from dull headlights. In the past the headlights were made of glass, today they are made of plastic. A protective layer is applied over this plastic to protect against UV radiation and other external influences. However, this layer wears off over time due to rain, stone chippings and UV radiation. But you can do something about it!

Headlight restoration

Products for polishing headlights

Cartec has developed a special headlight repair kit for this purpose. This is the contents of the case:

  • Rodac grinder 75 mm
  • Rodac rotary polisher 75 mm
  • Abralon grinding wheels P500
  • Abralon grinding wheels P1000
  • Abralon grinding wheels P2000
  • Abralon sanding discs P4000
  • Refinish compound 5000
  • Refinish ultra finish 12000
  • Yellow and gray polishing pads

What to do before you start polishing

To make headlights bright again, it is first important that the car is clean. Wash the car and the headlights thoroughly. Make sure you are dry before you start so that the masking tape adheres well to the paint.

On some car models, the headlight units can be removed very easily. This makes the headlight even easier to reach during grinding and polishing. If this is not possible or difficult, tap the paint around the headlight well. Open the hood so that you have more working space.

Step 1. Roughly sand the headlight

Place the P1000 grinding disc on the rodac grinding machine and spray it with water. Spray the headlight with damp water as well.

Tip: fill a work bottle with water for easy and controllable spraying.

Be careful not to use too much water, as this will cause the grinding wheel to grind less. Too little water will not ensure that the dirt is removed properly. Move the sanding disc over the headlamp at medium speed and even pressure.

Make sure you hit all parts well. You will see that a milky substance is formed. This is the residue you will sand off the headlight. Clean and dry the headlight with a microfiber cloth after several sanding steps, overlapping fifty percent during sanding. You will see that the headlight is completely matted. Make sure that it has the same matting all over to achieve an even result.

When sanding headlights, start with a relatively coarse grit, P1000, just as you would when painting. The P stands for "particle", which means "particle". The more particles there are in the disc, the finer it grinds. If you now have extremely weathered headlights, you can also start with P500. Note that this will sand faster and remove more surface area.

Step 2. Lightly sand the headlight

Put the sanding pad P2000 on the sanding machine and spray the pad wet. Moisten the headlamp and grind the headlamp again. To completely remove sanding scratches, sand twice as long as in step 1. For example, have you sanded for 1 minute with P1000? then sand for 2 minutes with P2000. After sanding, clean and dry the headlight again. You will see that there is already clarity in the headlight.

Step 3. Sand the headlight to a high gloss

The last sanding step is to sand with P4000. This will refine the sanding scratches and make it easier to achieve high gloss and the highest possible brightness in the headlight. Spray the sanding pad again with a damp cloth, as well as the headlight. Sand the headlight until you have an even finish over the entire headlight. Clean and dry the headlight with a microfiber cloth.

Step 4. Rough polish the headlight

Put the yellow pad on the rodac polisher. Apply refinish compound 5000 to the pad and massage the entire pad well with the compound. This will give a better polishing effect.
then polish the headlight at medium arm speed with a 50% overlap. Wipe off the polishing residue with a microfiber cloth. Repeat the same step, but with refinish ultra finish 12000 and the gray polishing pad.

Protect the shine

to give your shiny headlights a little extra, you can protect them from wear and damage with the following treatments.

first degrease the headlight thoroughly with panel spray. Apply a protective coating afterwards. For example clearcoat spray. Note that clearcoat is very foggy and can cause spray mist. A good masking (or disassembly of headlights) is therefore recommended.

You can also treat (or have treated) the headlights with ceramic guard coating. The headlights look like new again and will shine for years!

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Jeroen eggink

Started as a hobbyist and grew into the owner of a large car care company in the north of the netherlands. Always been a fan of cartec’s products and eventually became a product trainer. Has a lot of experience in the car care industry and likes to share practical tips& tricks.

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