Seeing the (head) light

And restoring it to perfect clarity

Headlight Renovation Kit
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So, what happens once you’ve mastered the joys of cleaning, waxing and polishing your car? Reached that point of peaceful contemplation as you see the shine rise and the glow develop in response to your touch?

Well, the joy of car polishing is that, once you step back proud of your work, you can take a deep breath, and feel true peace. You are entirely relaxed and blissfully happy.

Well, ok, maybe for a minute or two. Because suddenly, with the paintwork all glossy and gleaming, those headlights look, well, a bit yellowed. Maybe not quite in keeping with the rest of the car.

A little research indicates this yellowing is as a result of the UV coating thinning over time, allowing the plastic to become discoloured. It’s quite subtle, but try as you might, you can’t ignore it.

The next step on the ladder to true car peace must surely be to sort it out. But further research shows that this is a brutal job. You order the kit and everything arrives in an orderly package: polishing compound, a pad and sanding disk with all necessary grades of wet and dry, as well as a final UV sealer.

But the terrifying reality is that you need to set about your pride and joy with a rotary sander. This drastic activity needs a nice long sunny afternoon. And plenty of masking to your precious paintwork - you don’t want to go two steps back on your paintwork in pursuit of one step forward towards clear headlights.

Headlight Masked For Restoration

Slowly you become more confident using power tools in the vicinity of your car. And confident you need to be - it’s a slow and involving job. When you get down to a misted - but no longer yellowed - surface this indicates you’ve got all the old UV protector and the discolouration off.

Sanded Headlight

Now your headlights are milky with tiny scratches though, which is more than mildly disconcerting. But you can spend the rest of the afternoon working your way through layer after layer of sanding with finer and finer wet and dry paper to bring them back to clarity. This completely immersive experience will make the rest of the world go away. As the shadows start to lengthen you’ll pick up the last grade of paper - 3000 grit and barely rougher than a paper towel - and you can finally see that your work has been worthwhile.

Headlight Restoration

You can finally polish with a polishing compound and pad to get a truly shiny even surface back. The crisp contrast between the white of your lights and your paintwork will make you smile. Peace is within reach.

There’s one last step though - your bare plastic lenses are now unprotected in the world - and need a spray with new UV sealer so they stay that way.

Of course, you may now need to clean the car...

by Chipps Chippendale at 13 Apr 2018, 00:00 AM