DIY: Polishing Foggy Headlights

Difficulty Level

Tools/Supplies Needed:

• 1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper
• 1500 grit wet/dry sandpaper
• 2000 grit wet/dry sandpaper
• bucket of water with car wash soap
• paste or liquid polishing compound/scratch remover
• paste or liquid automotive wax (I used carnauba wax, but it doesn't have to be)
• 2 lint free polishing clothes
• microfiber cloth
• wax applicator pad


• first start by washing the headlight with soap and water to ensure there is no dirt which could cause problems during the sanding or polishing process
• if you would like, you can tape off the adjacent areas of the fender, bumper, hood, and grill to ensure they won't get damaged during the restoration process
• pre soak the sand paper
• pre soak the headlight surface
• depending on the severity of your lights will depend on which grit of sandpaper you start with first
• my lights were very faded, so I started out with 1000 grit sand paper
• apply medium pressure to the lens surface, removing a majority of the hazing or yellowish staining
• work evenly across this light to reduce the risk of causing any distortion
• use a rubber pad if needed to evenly sand the surface
• rinse sandpaper and lens surface when an excessive amount of sanding debris has built up
• once satisfied, you can now move onto 1500 grit sandpaper using the same process
• apply medium pressure, keep area well lubricated, rinse away any excessive sanding debris
• once satisfied again, move onto 2000 grit sandpaper and continue the same process
• ensure the area is well sanded with 2000 grit, rinse off the area removing any sanding debris
• using a polishing compound and a lint free cloth, apply the product to a cloth and work it into the surface
• if the compound dries, you can add a mist of water to help moisturize the product
• once satisfied with the polishing, you can now move onto a scratch remover compound
• wipe down or rinse the headlight removing any left over polishing compound
• using a new lint free cloth, apply the scratch remover to the cloth and work the product into the lens
• you can also apply a little water to the scratch remover compound to help moisturize the product
• once done with the scratch removing compound, rinse the area again
• ensure there is no water left over as this will affect applying a wax to the surface
• apply your choice of wax using a wax applicator pad
• work the wax into the surface, then allow it to haze over
• once hazed over, remove and polish using a microfiber cloth
• finally remove the tape

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

How often to do I need to reapply the wax?

It is recommended that you apply the wax about twice a year, but this will be dependant on your climate and amount of driving. For harsher climates and large amounts of driving, I would recommend more than twice a year.

Where can I purchase the products shown in the video?

These products can be purchased at hardware stores, automotive parts suppliers, or online.

Will this process work on glass headlights?

No it will not.

How long will this process last for before my headlights become hazy again?

This procedure will last for easily a year depending on your quality of work, how harsh your climate is, and how much driving you do. During the ownership of my car I put on 100,000km in about a year, along with driving throughout both summer and winter. The headlights were still in excellent condition and in no need of any polishing.

Will this process remove the yellowing on my lenses?

Yes it will as long as the yellowing isn't on the inside of the lens.

Why do my headlights look worse?

You will need to spend more time with each step to achieve a highly polished surface. If done correctly, your headlights will be perfectly clear and look like new.

Can I use an electric buffer?

Of course you can, although you will have to be careful not to burn the plastic/acrylic lens.

Why did you use a buffer in your tutorial?

The reason for not using a buffer is that not everyone has access to a buffer. I wanted to demonstrate that anyone can do this without the use of any fancy or specialty tools.

Video tutorial on how to refinish your foggy/hazy plastic vehicle headlights cheap and easy. This is a fairly inexpensive method to restore your headlights that only applies to the plastic/acrylic lenses, not glass lenses. It is very important that you take your time with each step to achieve a highly polished restored surface. This method normally lasts about a year, but will depend on the quality of work as well as the climate you are located in. It is normally recommended to apply wax at least a couple times a year to help the polished surface last along with providing some protecting. This particular tutorial was done on a 2004 Volkswagen Golf TDI.