DIY: How to Restore Tail Lights

Difficulty Level

Tools/Supplies Needed:

• 1500 grit wet/dry sandpaper
• 2000 grit wet/dry sandpaper
• polishing compound
• wax
• microfiber cloth
• microfiber applicator pad
• soft line free cloth
• painters tape
• bucket of water
• spray bottle with soapy water


• start by washing the vehicle which will remove any dirt with can contaminate the restoration process
• if you wish, tape off the paint using tape around the light so you don't risk the chance of damaging the surface
• pre soak the sandpaper in the bucket of water
• spray down the light with soapy water
• start using 1500 grit sandpaper, removing any of the scrubbed or scratched areas, this will remove the majority of damage fast and easily, be sure to keep rinsing off the sandpaper and keeping the surface wet
• once satisfied, move onto 2000grit around the whole light, be sure to keep rinsing off the sandpaper and keeping the surface wet
• next rinse the light off, ensure the light is mostly dry
• using polishing compound and a soft lint free cloth, apply some compound and work it into the surface
• you may need to apply the polishing compound a couple times
• once satisfied, clean the light off and ensure there isn't any left over compound or wax
• apply the wax to the light using a microfiber applicator pad, work it into the surface
• then remove using the microfiber cloth

Video tutorial on how to polish tail lights or parking lights using the wet sanding and polishing method. This will allow for removal of any fading or light scratching. Scratches that are deeper cannot be removal, but will be lightened up in most situations. Normally tail light fading isn't as severe as headlight fading as it doesn't deal with road debris flying up or bugs. The length of this procedure will normally last about a year, but that will depend on your vehicle's usage or climate. With ever vehicle wax application, it's always good to apply coats of wax to the light as this will prevent them from fading, keep them shinny, or have a protective layer from polishing.