Headlight "streaks / scuffs" repair question?

I was trying to get ice off my car and I slipped with the scraper, sending it down over my headlight and created “scuffs” or “streaks” on the outer poly-carbonate cover. These streaks appear to be permanent, and there is more than one because of the undulating nature of the Prius headlight covers (alternating regions of convex and concave shape).

I’ve read a ton of reviews about how to restore headlights using various kits, which all essentially use stages of sand paper coarseness to smooth out the headlight cover, followed by some kind of buffing and then finally some kind of paint protective film (PPF) to stop UV. Usually this is done for cloudy or yellowed headlights.

That is not my problem. I have an 8 year old car that does not yet have a yellowing / cloudy headlight cover. I have narrow but long scuffs / streaks running down the cover in one localized area. I would prefer not to completely destroy the film over the rest of the cover, I simply want to remove the scuff in the localized area.

My question is could I remove the scuffs using only the buffing step from these kits just where the scuffs are located? And then perhaps reapply the PPF locally? It might leave some kind of “border” line where the two regions meet, but I’m thinking its better than the scuffs? Or maybe this is unnecessary and I should just let it go? I care very much about not having dimmed headlights and not really at all about cosmetic issues.

Thank you.

Hmm… I could tape off (using painters tape) around the scuffs and then use some repair kit technique only in those regions. In the same way that they suggest taping off around the headlights so that you don’t destroy the paint on the car body border.

I do not think the scuff marks will do much to dim the headlight.
depending how deep they are you might be able to go over it with some rubbing compound and then some polishing compound. and then some regular car wax. this might help if they are very fine scratches or scuff mark.
if they are deep scratches then your only options are to replace the headlight or live with it.

Ok, thank you, that sounds reasonable. It is my understanding that headlight covers have PPF coatings already (which is why they last for years). Can you or anyone else recommend any compounds that will not destroy the coating over the rest of the cover, or is there a rule about promoting products in the forum? I assume based on your suggestion that car wax will not detract from the headlight performance? I’ve never used it on a headlight.

Thank you again.

I think the taping-off theory would work pretty good. Anytime you buff plastic with a grit-solution though it is going to change the appearance of the buffed section of the plastic a little. So you might end up with a band that looks slightly different than the rest of the headlight. If so and you didn’t like the look you could buff the rest of the plastic I guess.

Suggest to do the buffing by hand rather than a power buffer, so you can monitor how it looks.

I badly scratched the plastic lens of my inexpensive watch one time by attempting to clean it with one of those 3m scotch pads (don’t try that btw, bad idea!! ). Fortunately the folks in the silicon waver processing lab had a little left-over micro-diamond buffing compound, just a couple drops completely removed the scratches, took about 5 seconds.

I would only do something if the scuffs reduced the headlight’s effectiveness (which I doubt). Once you start sanding/polishing, you remove the protective layer and will speed up the deterioration of the headlight in that area.


I think Texas is on the right track . Just don’t do anything untill you have driven at night for a few times . If not a problem then leave it alone .


I had a crease in the hood and a scrape on my headlight from a ladder getting blown over in the wind, $100 paintless dent repair did a great job, Ask them for a quote! I did buffing the cloudy headlights on another car, and I would gladly pay a pro to do a better job in retrospect. Hope you get it for $50, worth it in my book!

Wei of course you can just sand and buff the streaks if you want. You don’t have to wax and polish a whole car if it doesn’t need it. You can also just replace one headlight housing, whatever you want to do.

Sounds like the best option.

Yeah, so I think you folks are on the right track with ensuring it doesn’t effect performance. I need to wait for a day above freezing to really clean up the headlight and then see how it performs (without ice and salt). I can post back based on my driving tests.

Thank you!