CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Removing oxidation from headlights

I’m am pretty sure oxidation is the right word for it. When your headlights get that film over them that just won’t come off. Does any one know how to get that stuff off without having to spend to much money?

I’ve restored them to excellent condition using polishing compound with a drill mounted buffing pad and water. Any mild abrasive in suspension will likely work.

Someone else eher suggested a coat of wax after to deter future oxidiaing. I didn’t use any, but it sounds like a good idea.

They sell heldlight lens polishing kits at the auto parts stores.

I’ve tried 'em. They work, but I liked the polishing compound better.

Right, mountainbike. Anything with abrasion (polishing compound, 600+ grit wet sandpaper, probably even toothpaste) can be used to treat clear plastic lamp lenses. If you’re patient about it, and spend enough time at it, the results can be quite acceptable. But, taylorclark99, once your lenses are pitted, spiderwebbed, cracked, etc., there’s no treatment to reverse those problems. At most, you’ll remove roughness and yellowing, and allow more of the headlights to actually shine on the road. As for special kits sold at auto parts stores, I’ve never used them, but they’re also just abrasives and wiping cloths, so save yourself the money. If you have any sort of car polish and terrycloth applicator (drill-mounted pad is even better) in your car care cupboard, you’re all set. When I detail cars for myself and others, I always finish up by putting a coat of acrylic sealant on the treated plastic pieces as protection from further deterioration (I use Zaino Z2), but that’s obviously not a requirement.

I have quite successfully used Maguiar’s PlastX - it works well and doesn’t take much elbow grease.

I’ve had better luck using PlastX first followed by RainX. The RainX really improves the clarity of the lens.