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Oxidized Headlamps


I have oxidized headlamps and understand there are products that actually address the oxidation at a chemical level, rather than buffing (and damaging the surface in the process). Can anyone recommend a product?

Yours is the first I’ve heard of something besides polishing on this board.

The surface is already damaged - you aren’t going to hurt it by sanding/buffing/polishing.

Personally, I sanded mine then followed up with polish. I started with 400 grit wet sandpaper. That removed the bulk of the oxidation quickly, but left light scratches, which I removed by progressively stepping up until I was wet sanding with 8000 micromesh (about 3000 grit or so). There were NO visible scratches left afterwards, but I still followed up with regular old plastic polish.

The headlamps looked good as new when I was done, and there is no way that I removed any more than just the smallest fraction of the overall material (think 1% or so). Where’s the harm?

The only chemical treatment I have heard of was using oven cleaner to remove the oxidized layer. I have never had the courage to do that, and I expect that you have to buff the surface smooth after the chemical treatment, so you still end up with a buffed surface that is more prone to oxidation.

The only thing I notice is that if you keep them treated from day one with something like Armorall, they seem to go longer before turning yellow and opaque in the first place. I just recently replaced the lenses on a 20-year-old Volvo, and the lenses in my two 14-year old BMWs still look pretty good. Once they start to go bad, nothing but regular buffing helps.

Oven cleaner would be a serious act of faith…not sure I am that brave either.

My wife’s old car while in college had the same problem. Somewhere I had hear this old remedy and it worked out beautifully: Get a few rags and a tube of toothpaste (I can’t remember what I used, but it was my college roommates hehe). Apply a thin gob to the rag, and start rubbing away. This definitely requires a bit of elbow grease, but rub until it starts clumping together and coming off. Switch rags when needed. Don’t use any water, or any other additive, just keep rubbing it until it’s polished and shining.

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

I use wet and dry sandpaper with a lot of water. Start out with 1000 grit, go to 1500 grit, and finish it off with 2000 grit. They should look like new.
Finish it off with MeGuiars PlasticX as a final touch.

It seems to me that if the surface is oxidized it’s already damaged. That’s why polishing improves the situation. The damaged surface is removed, leaving a fresh, smooth surface.

Here’s an idea that I haven’t tried, but it would seem to be more permanent that the polish. Do the polish (either a kit, the sandpaper route, toothpaste, whatever), then cover the lenses with protective film designed for this, like this:

What do folks think?

Holy cow, glad my truck has the old low tech sealed beams, I have better things to do.