Repairing headlights

Polish Out Scratches in Plastic Lights and Lenses!

Headlights suffer extreme damage at the front of your car – they are under constant attack from flying stones and other debris plus the sun can fade them. Many modern cars actually have plastic headlights that are not made of glass at all.

As a general rule of thumb, if you can catch your finger nail in a scratch or stone chip that is on your headlight then it is too deep to polish out using just liquid polish as used in this technique. In this case you may need to use wet sanding.

Make sure that you have properly cleaned any dirt and foreign matter from the surface of the headlight. A thorough clean and subsequent dry with microfiber towel should make sure the surface is properly clean.

It is advisable to mask around the edges of your light to protect the surrounding paint edges from unnecessary abrasion and any black rubber or plastic trim from discolouration.

You can use either a polishing machine to work the polish or work the polish by hand. Obviously the former will produce results quicker but we don’t all have polishing machines. With a bit of effort and elbow grease you can still get a great result working by hand.

When working by hand, apply a small amount of polish to a clean microfiber towel and rub this back and forth across the headlight surface using only light pressure.

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If using a machine then apply five or six pea sized blobs initially to prime the pad and either rub this over the headlight before starting the machine or run the machine at the slowest setting to distribute the polish ready for working. Once primed, usually two or three pea sized blobs are enough to continue working different areas. Again you do not need to apply any pressure to the machine because the head provides the weight onto the surface itself and the polish needs to be allowed to work.

In both cases you should always aim to work in straight lines, without any circular or swirling action, ideally following the shape of the light and overlapping the working slightly (about a quarter) with your strokes. Let the polish do the work for you and take your time. After six to eight passes, change direction and work across the surface of the light at 90 degrees to your starting strokes. The number of passes will change depending on the degree of damage and the amount of pressure you apply but this is a good starting position.

Repeat this process until the polish starts to go clear indicating the polish has finished it’s work. You should now stop and wait for the polish to haze. Then simply buff off with a clean microfiber cloth to reveal the finish.

Because the polish has a very light cutting action you may need to repeat the process to get the whole surface of the light looking like new. Remember it is better to take your time and progress carefully in a controlled fashion than use an aggressive polish that will give an inferior finish to the surface to try and save a little time.

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