How to Restore Headlights PERMANENTLY “Do Not Use Clear Coat”

How to Restore Headlights PERMANENTLY “Do Not Use Clear Coat”

The ultimate headlight restoration video in this video, I’ll show you how to restore your headlights to like-new condition using a three step process with sandpaper and polish Be sure to watch the end of the video because there are some tips you’re not going to want to miss I will keep your headlights Looking like new for the lifetime of your vehicle To get the oxidation off these headlights we’re going to be using three different grits of sandpaper to sand down Any oxidation we’re gonna start with a 500 grit I’m gonna be using a DA just to speed up the process that just velcro’s on This power sander we’re gonna go from 500 To 800 grit and then to a final polish with a 3,000 grit sandpaper Any sandpaper will work it doesn’t have to be these round discs where the velcro Maybe same pay for the hardware so he picked up you can do this by hand it works. Just as well I’ve done it both ways I’ve done this process several several times. Well. We’re done. I’m gonna use a lens and hard plastic cleaner To buff out the headlight And then I’m going to use a lens and polished protector I Will leave links in the video description below to all the products that I’ve used to do that headlight restoration on this vehicle Everything you’ll need to get the haze or fogginess out of your headlights will be in the video description These are headlights, we’re gonna be doing today. I’m gonna start by taping out the area just to protect any paint from the sandpaper these headlights Really aren’t that oxidized that badly? I’ve done much worse These just happen to be the ones I use for doing this video, and they’re still pretty major difference This is by far the ultimate method of restoring your headlights It’s permanent especially if you keep Using a projector in between services. I’m just gonna like plastic over the top of these headlights and then I’m going to take a razor blade and I’m gonna cut on top of the tape that way you don’t cut into the paint And once we get around the headlight cutout I’m just going to take more masking tape and take the plastic down I’m just gonna speed the video up a little bit here Alright, so we’re gonna start with a 500 grit I just said you can do this by hand or with a power sander. I have an air sander err da here that I’m using And take some water we’re gonna want to do this all wet sanding It just helps keep the sandpaper clear or last long Makes the sandpaper last a lot longer that way and it cuts into a plastic a little better So we’re just gonna go over this thoroughly with a 500 grit sandpaper Until you’re sure you have all the area covered evenly As I say and you can see all the oxidation lifting off of the headlights Alright then we’re gonna move on to the 800 quits and paper and do the same process And then from 800 grit we’re gonna go on to the 3000 grit and you’re probably gonna want to spend the most time on the 3000 grit cuz this ensures you get all the scratches from the 500 and the 800 grit sandpaper out of the headlights It’s gonna ensure a nice smooth finish Only go to kind of policies headlights out Get all the oxidation off basically all this sanding is doing is just removing that top layer of observation All that haze headlight hazing you know the fogging in the headlights Is gonna get rid of all that out of that top plastic layer? Now before we start polishing we’re just gonna like this. I like dry with a rag or some paper towel It’s gonna hold water off of it, so you’re not You know buffing the polishing wood with the water Right now that we got the headlight all dry we’re gonna. I’m gonna apply the lens and polish protector I didn’t use a buffer in this video because I used a three thousand get long enough to where it actually made less work pretty Good, we’re gonna be using electric drill you can still do this by hand with really any both in compound I have some that’s meant for headlights Really anything works Even a car wax or a car buffing agent would work to restore these headlights. Yeah, then I’m just going to buff these polishing and Protect her into the headlights and as you can see This is where they really come to life and even with these headlights not being that bad you can still see there’s a huge difference and In this headlight restoration method as far superior than any other headlight restoration method out there. I’ve tried all of them it’s a toothpaste and all that stuff with just a bunch of Gimmicks um in order to get these headlights back to original you’re gonna have to sand off all that oxidation As You can see we ended up with some pretty amazing result for results here Something you’re definitely not gonna do using toothpaste or some of the other so-called headlight restoration methods out there and This is a pretty permanent fix if you keep The headlight protector on there if you buy a headlight protector on there it’s gonna protect it from UV rays as Opposed to putting a clear coat on your headlight something you definitely don’t want to do that to lehre coat is gonna impede the actual functionality of the headlights I’ve seen other YouTube videos where they sand them down and I’m spraying with clear coat highly not recommended And then if you were to have to you know if you wanted to repair your headlights in the future you wouldn’t be able to with that clear coat on there, so This is a right way to fix oxidized Plastic headlights. This is ultimate headlight restoration method and anybody can do it with You know a three-step process of sandpaper and and polish, and that’s it and this is the results you get Thanks for watching be sure to leave any questions or comments below I’ll also leave a link to the all the products I used in this video in the description If this video was useful be sure to hit the thumbs up button and subscribe to this channel

100 thoughts on “How to Restore Headlights PERMANENTLY “Do Not Use Clear Coat”

  1. The things I used in this Video:
    3M Random Orbital Sander
    3m Headlight Restoration Kit:
    500 grit sandpaper:
    800 grit sandpaper:
    3000 grit sandpaper:
    Lens and Hard plastic cleaner:
    Lens polish and protector:
    The only thing I would recommend putting over your headlight for truely permanent protection:
    Here is a link to the Maguire's polish on Amazon too: Also a great product!

    You can also get new headlight on Amazon:

  2. How much pressure Is needed if I do it with a drill? I tried today with 800, 1200, 2000 but when I tried to sandpaper the headlights the drill moved all the way, pretty difficult and also happened with the compound, what you guys think? Really need help, did I miss pressure or was it too much? Or the drill has too much power? I am totally confused with what happened HEEEEEEEELP!!

  3. 6:35 yesterday I restored my left headlight by sanding and applying three coats of clear coat. Last night I drove 100miles in complete darkness and I didn't notice any problem, he light up as well as the new headlight on the right side (I replaced it one month ago so it's brand new). So, for me, your statement does not apply.

  4. Hey The Flat Rate Mechanic,
    Thank you for the tutorial! One thing I can't follow from the video is, you only use the lens polish and protector although you mention buying lens and hard plastic cleaner as well. At what stage should the cleaner be used if any?

  5. Best part of the video are the links to the 3m sanding discs on Amazon. Been looking for these for months and never been able to find them. Great job on the headlights!

  6. Ok im a little confuse. In the beginning you showed the lens and hard plastic cleaner and the lens polish and protecror. Did you used both of these i the video. Also after the 3000 grit. Which one goes first of liquids. Im about to buy all this stuff. Just need a little schooling. Thanks and great video.

  7. I'm following this video step by step and I don't see when you used the lens hard plastic cleaner, only the polish protector, did I miss something? Please can you help me so I can finish this project. p.s. i followed Chris Fixes advice and went and bought clear coat paint are there any other uses for this stuff since i can't use it on the headlights and can't reurn it back to the store due to the policy they have on paint products.

  8. I finished my headlights with clear coat about a year and half ago. No problems at all lights look brand new.

  9. We did the clear coat about a year ago and it never did look great. Can I remove the clear coat with sandpaper and start over with your method? Love your video, very clear and easy to follow. Thanks!

  10. Excellent video, tips and links to products! I can see how finishing off with a UV protectant clear film would be the best way to go but I don't want to wrestle with the film application over all the strange curves of various headlights. My question is: Has anyone found a UV protectant solution that can be applied that will last and not need constant reapplication? Does 3M have anything like that?
    I did something very similar to our family cars using a Rain-X kit that contains three grits, wet sanding solution, polish and final coating. Kit is meant to be done by hand. Just make sure to sand in a cross-hatch pattern as per the directions which accomplishes what a random orbital sander does. Great results! Not the kit's fault, but 6-12 months later lenses began to fog up again based on plastic used by the particular car manufacturer.

  11. That looks awesome, but question – they're clearcoated from the factory no? Problem is most don't protect that clearcoat so it breaks down – just as it would on paint.
    What's wrong then with restoring, clearcoating anew, but then protecting the new clear going forward?

  12. You can prevent this from happening by carefully cleaning the headlights frequently and treating the lenses regularly with a plastic protectant containing a UV inhibitor. It's the environemntal chemicals and moisture reacting with the UV produced by halogen or LED lamps that causes the outer surface to degrade.

  13. I used the 3M kit but added Maguiar's Keep Clear Headlight Coating. WORKS GREAT. The problem with gloss clear coats is they are a hard coating and will chip and peel over time.

  14. So the sand paper number you use, can be used on any other headlight? Or will it depend on how bad they are?

  15. not recommended clear coar on headlights because you won't have to pay for the wax product he used again.

  16. Thank you so much for your video. I have been searching for the RIGHT answer on You Tube for weeks! Yours makes the most sense. I'm going to use your method. Thanks again.

  17. I used the same 3M products. It's just like painting a car. As it's all in how much effort you put into it. As painting is easy. It's all that sanding and buffing that separates a cheap fix from a Pro…

  18. I used ChrisFix's method. Clear coated my lights. They have not failed or cracked or oxidized. But I also treat the lights with wax every 6 months when I wax my car.

  19. Great step by step demo. Just to help your channel, you could try and add more charisma to your narration. Less flat and more passion. You'll see a ltraffic increase. And more subscription.

  20. Everyone has an opinion, but no one has done any real testing. Clear coat paint is said to crack or go bad and a bad idea as clear is for metal painted surfaces and not clear plastic. Others say the only way to fix is to sand with multiple grits of sand paper. Yet others claim simple solutions from bug spray to tooth paste to baking soda and WD-40. Someone should get like 20 headlights (all aged the same with the same hazing) and restore each in a particular way and then allow them to sit in the sunlight for 6 months to see which method A.) Did the best job restoring B.) held up the best. THEN I will believe a particular method works.

  21. I'm assuming you are meant to use the plastic cleaner after the sanding is completed, it looks like he forgot to mention that in the video but it's the logical thing to do. Sand, Clean, then Polish.

  22. Dang son! Looks great! Now if I just had the 100$ plus worth of stuff to do it. Looks great but I'm poor.

  23. Can I use this method on my eyeballs to avoid cataract surgery? And conversely, if I convince my surgeon to use his laser on my headlights will I be able to avoid all that sanding?

  24. Just use clear bra after you polish them, problem solved.
    If you use something good like XPEL it should last longer than 5 years. But even then, just peel the clear bra and reapply.

  25. Wish this video was up years ago. I did the sanding and used the clear coat a while back. Looked great for a few years but now clear coat is breaking down and chipping due to the elements and UV rays. Guess I'll have to use some sort of water based stripper to get the rest off and go with Flat Rate Mechanics method.

  26. I have a recent rattle that sounds like from the rear package tray. I removed everything from trunk; removed rear seat bottom, put the rear seat back down. Wife drove while I watched the area at rear speakers and trunk interior. I even set a phone recording but could see nothing moving during the noisy rattles. It seems to be bump-independent: big road bump, maybe no rattle at all; small road bumps. maybe loud rattle. Sometimes sounds like it comes from left, sometimes right. My Chrysler dealer has screwed me twice so don't want to take my 2000 Cirrus Lxi V6 there. Also, had internal steering column repair at Toyota dealer two weeks ago – now the horn sounds any old time, even when the car is locked and I am inside the house. I love this old car, only 104k miles, strong engine, but squeaky suspension. I just use it to go 2 or 20 miles once a week, maybe a 200 mi. trip 4x per year. Help! Who do I call ?

  27. Are these results possible on headlights that are pretty much yellow and really blurry can such a neglected headlight be restored????

  28. I tried this method today and it worked great! I used a 5" orange pad on a Dewalt drill with Meguire's PlastX (after sanding) since Amazon is late on delivering my 3M lense polish. I was practicing on some headlights from the junkyard. Thanks for sharing.

  29. I can tell you have used clear coat on the passenger headlight and it didn't work out thanks for the info. By the way clear coat is not crystal clear and not good for headlight or glass

  30. permanently, is misused in this video!
    My motto is….. work smart not hard!
    The easiest, and I mean easiest, and just as permanent as this video, is use the magic eraser! You will be amazed! A fraction of the amount of work and time, as this video! Try it you will not believe your eyes!

  31. Used clear coat on my headlights about 3 years ago. Didn't get the best clear coat (local hardware store Rust-Oleum UV resistant, Plastic bonding) and at the end of this summer they are starting to yellow (VERY faint yellow). Before i tried the 3M polish that only lasts a year or half a year when it starts to wear/yellow, and the Turtle brand one was even worse.

    On my own car I wet sanded with 500 grit, cleaned off the area with isopropyl alcohol and a clean rag, then three light coats of clear coat about 10 minutes apart. Waited a week to harden (you just need 8+ hours @70F/20C) then used 800-1200 wet sand to flatten the paint droplets and buffed. Looked every bit as clear as the new (OEM) turn signal housing next to them.

    I noticed the paint fills in the sanded texture just fine and there's no real need to sanding in stages at that point. Also, you need to make sure you remove all the factory clear coat or it will start peeling off those areas. Which i learned when i first did it lol.

  32. 2 years later after using a clear coat in Arizona mind you, and they still look brand new. Not sure why you tell people not to use a clear coat but it's probably one of the most important steps in headlight restoration.

  33. Just like with any polishing you can go too far. You're spreading misinformation. Headlights already have a hard uv resistant clearcoat. That line that separates fogginess and clear lens on aged headlights is the clear coat fading away. Sure you can so it this way but all that sanding removes the clearcoat and even cuts into the plastic. Since plastic is porous, headlight protector chemicals work temporarily filling those pores, preventing further weathering and yellowing. But they must be reapplies regularly or you end up at square one.

    The notion that a clear coat refracts the light and makes it worse isn't the entire truth. You're leaving out an explanation of what you mean. This is the case for ORANGE PEEL. If orange peel is not corrected then yes the light would be scattered and would be no different than headlights covered in Rock chips. An adhesion promoter isn't necessary if you sand the old clear coat completely off and get down to bare plastic. Your surface should be around 700-800 grit wetsanded. Nice and hazy but smooth. And to those who get reactions they are using either a clearcoat incompatible with plastic surfaces, did not use acetone or a type of degreaser to prep the surface, have too fine of a sanded surface, or spray the first coat on heavy. A 2k clear coat like spraymax will give you a hard impact resistant, scratch resistant, and weathering resistant coat. They also take just a week to cure completely. Cheap 1k clear coats are soft and take many months to cure properly. By then it's already damaged by sun rays and Rock chips.

    But rattle can jobs almost always require attention to orange peel. The clear coat must be cut and polished. It's the same amount of work you put into these restoration kits but you're reapplying that permanent protective coat on your headlights.

    You can encourage people to do one thing but if you're going to tell them not to do something at least give them the correct info as to why. That's some straight up Scotty kilmer shit.

  34. The best thing to do is to use a clear uv film to cover your headlights when you're done…otherwise they will just yellow again.

  35. Will 2000 grit be sufficient for a finisher? I ask because I couldn't find a 3000 grit locally, would need to order online if it's absolutely necessary

  36. Honestly I used the McGuire’s 2 step restoration kit and it works fine for me. The clear coat is still clear and the headlight is still bright at night. I mean they leave the factory with a clear coat on, why would applying clear coat after sanding be bad all of a sudden?

  37. Finally someone with a brain! Everyone thinks clear coat is the only "permanent" way to get clear headlights. These people don't do their research on this properly. This video is exactly how a professional does it

  38. Sorry but you are spreading misinformation. I paid a body shop to have my Maxima headlights refinished with clearcoat. That was 10 years ago and they are still clear with no oxidation. Basic wash and wax every week or two is all it takes to keep a vehicle looking new. I don't understand how people can let their headlights get so nasty.

  39. I’ve always used a 2k clear. Lays down with a nice fan like out of a small gun, usually no going behind to sand and buff out orange peel. Always great results.

  40. If there was clear coat applied at one point, could you wet-sand the clear coat off using the steps shown here?

  41. Wells for those that want a bbn headlight restoration labor is jor cheap the process is not cheap. People get misinformed and don't want to pay for headlight restoration. There's a process to do this. So think twice before you pay 5 dollars to someone that thinks they can do headlight restorations. Yeah new headlights are a lot of money. But guess wat headlight restoration is cheaper. And yes there's excellent results and remember you will get wat you paid for. If you can te do it yourself make sure you pay the right person that knows wat they are doing. Remember paying someone 5 to 10 dollars for this service is twice as expensive. Because you will end up paying someone else to fix the mistake that someone else did.

  42. Wrong. These cars come with UV resistant clearcoat from the factory. If the right clearcoat is used and properly prepped and buffed after curing it will last years and be just as clear. Good job on explaining the wet sanding and polishing though. I will agree that is superior to things like toothpaste.

  43. WAY too many steps, Just a drill or variable speed grinder with a polishing head and some Mothers' Aluminum Polish. then 303 Aerospace. Done in 8 min.

  44. There are valid arguments against clear coat but the arguments presented here don't stack up. At the end of this comment I'll suggest what appears to be the best solution I've seen.

    Firstly, if your headlights are good, never use a solvent or abrasive on them or you'll remove the protective factory coating and find yourself looking at these kinds of videos. This includes bug spray, other oils, toothpaste, cutting/buffing polish etc.

    The headlights are coated in a UV protective layer in the factory. This is a specialised solution that absorbs into the polycarbonate surface in combination with heat treatment. It is not a clear coat. Using a solvent or abrasive on your headlights will compromise this protective coating.

    If your lights have gone murky or yellow then the factory protection is already compromised and thus you need to take action. You could buy new lights or try something else. Once at this point there is a valid argument of "what have I got to loose?" to try something else. But, there is a lot a very bad advice out there which I'd like to address here.

    Like most DIY solutions proposed on this topic, this video is only half the job. Once you have prepared the headlight as shown in this video, you must protect the headlight from UV with a permanent barrier, not just a temporary one using a polish like that shown here. The problem with relying on polish UV protection is that you need to continually maintain it. Where I live that means polishing my lights every two months because our sun is exceedingly harsh. This simply isn't realistic and I have better things to do. My car lives outside which doesn't help matters either. (One day I'll have space for a car in my garage… but not today.)

    A good UV protected clear coat specifically designed for a polycarbonate surface could be a reasonably good solution after sanding and then buffing the headlight as demonstrated in this video. The massive mistake I consistently see is the failure to remove any protector or wax contained in the buffing compound before clear coat application. This is painting 101 and yet consistently absent from most instructional videos. However, does such a clear coat exist? The chemical formula of a clear coat could dissolve or weaken the headlight. It also expands and contracts at a different rate than the headlight that can lead to long term damage. But, if a clear coat exists specifically designed for this purpose then it's presumably a valid option.

    The common arguments against clear coats is generally two fold: It interferes with the light refraction, and can be more difficult to deal with in the future.

    The light refraction argument seems completely absurd. Headlights are not a precisely focused beam. They're not a laser. Their purpose is to spread light around so you can see around you. Although a clear coat will marginally alter (refract) the output on a different angle, this will be pragmatically immeasurable, but assuming it does effect the angle, just compensate by adjusting your headlight tilt. But, is the refraction alteration from clear coat worse than a murky headlight? What about water? Water will refract the light considerably. Should we avoid using headlights in the rain? BTW, the polish/wax etc contained in your car wash will also influence the light refraction. This argument, which I've heard before, isn't valid.

    Anther argument is "Clear coat will peel and can be hard to deal with in the future". Well, perhaps. If done right, I don't see why it wouldn't last 5+ years. Peeling is probably common with poor quality clear coats that are not UV protected ('indoor only') but the big reason is a poorly prepared surface (wax and grease not removed). I'd rather sand off clear coat that 'might' require attention every 5+ years than polish my headlights every few months.

    There seems to be an orange peel argument floating around. I don't consider this a particularly good argument because I doubt it will have much bearing on the lights operation. I accept that it might look a bit crap but it still looks better than a murky UV damaged light. However, orange peel means you haven't finished the paint job. If you do a job bad enough to get orange peel, then fix it i.e. finish the paint job. To say "don't clear coat due to orange peel effect" is to say "don't use this solution because you might only do half the job".

    Many people have suggested a UV stable 2K paint. I cannot attest to the suitability of this but 2K paints contain some nasty compounds necessitating the need for protective gear. If 2K contains isocyanates like I suspect it does, then protective gear is essential. You'll see a lot of youtube clips with people saying, 'use a mask'. This unqualified and typically casual off-hand statement is irresponsible. You must use a 'suitable' mask that is rated for that type of contaminant, which means a charcoal filtered mask 'at a minimum' but ensure even that is rated for the task. Additionally, use eye protection. Not just safety goggles, but 'sealed' eye protection as these nasty chemicals are absorbed through your eyes. A full face mask as another option instead of separate mask and googles.

    But, having said all of that, the heat stretchable UV protective film seems like the winner to me. This film is commonly used to 'tint' headlights and tailights but it does come in clear. Prepare the headlights as shown in this video, then apply the UV protective film that applies much like window tint film. This film should last many years without any maintenance and can be easily removed in the future. It appears to give you the advantage of a clear coat without the expertise necessary or disadvantages of a clear coat. Yes, the film will also have a refraction index to it… probably worse than clear coat.. but still much less than water, and of an amount that is still irrelevant.

  45. The people who use toothpaste to restore headlights only used it because they dont have any teeth, or if they do they only got one tooph lepht, and in that case TOOPHpaste still comes in handy! Theyre usually from Council Bluffs, Iowa a.k.a. Counciltucky!

  46. i dont know who is paying this guy … but this is a complete bullshit … i am not a mechanic … i am not car painter … i own a headlight business since 2002 .. i can say i am an expert in headlights restoration …. thats the only thing i do …..
    I have 2 degrees in engineering and 1 in chemistry…. and in almost 20 years i have tryed everything and anything … i have spent thousands in investigation … hours…weeks…months searching and developing the best restore system … try and error ..learning with mistakes .. improving products and methods for years of experience … and dude… YOU ARE WRONG.
    Im not selling anything … and one thing i am sure .. YOU HAVE TO COAT YOUR HEADLIGHTS.
    A THIN ..HARD ..UV PROTECTION COATING … A coating that lasts minimum 3..4..5 years …
    Leaving an headlight unprotected is like gooing to the beach and dont use any sunscreen … leaving it exposed to UV radiation …

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