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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

15 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
280 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best headlight restoration kits

Last Updated June 2019

With age, your vehicle’s headlights start to weather and fade. The yellow film that covers old headlights is not only unattractive, but it can also make your car look older than it is — which isn’t helpful if you’re planning to sell it. Grimy headlights are also less effective and can make driving more dangerous, putting you at risk for an accident.

While you could simply remove the headlight housing and replace it with a new one, it’s hardly a cost-effective way to keep your car looking new. Today, it’s easier than ever to wipe away that unsightly dirt from your headlights in about an hour or less with a headlight restoration kit. 

There are a number of kits on the market that will restore your headlights to their original brilliance (or close to it). Most of these kits include an abrasive polishing compound as well as multiple tools for applying the solution. Some also include a post-polish UV coating to protect the headlights from further sun damage.

To learn more about the benefits of headlight restorations kits for your car, keep reading our shopping guide. If you’re ready to buy, take a look at our recommended kits.

Never drive a vehicle if you can’t see the headlights through the housing. These are too oxidized or dirty to be safe.

Key considerations

Handheld vs. drill buffer

While some headlight restoration kits come with handheld pads used to clean the surface of your headlights, others come with buffing and sanding wheels that attach to a power drill. Whether you want to clean your headlights using the handheld method or the drill method will probably depend on the cloudiness level of your headlights and your willingness to put in a little extra elbow grease during the process. Take both of these factors into consideration when deciding which kit you want to purchase.

State of your headlights

When deciding which headlight restoration kit is right for you, consider how cloudy and dirty they are. Those that have gone for a longer period without cleaning will likely need a multistep drill-based restoration kit. Newer vehicles, or those that have had their headlights restored more recently, will likely only need the more basic kits that can be managed with handheld tools.

Cost of restoration

Just as there are many different styles of headlight restoration kits, there are many different prices for those kits. Whether you want your headlights looking brand new or just want to clean them up a bit to sell the vehicle, determine the amount you’re willing to spend to get your desired results. There are options available for every need. Decide your own personal restoration goals before choosing a kit.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

Always use care when operating power tools with your headlight restoration kit. Failure to do so can result in damage to your headlights or even serious injury.

Features

Drill-based tools

For the most oxidized and yellowed headlights, polishing and sanding wheels are available in some headlight restoration kits. These wheels quickly and easily remove years of oxidation, dust, dirt, and grime from your headlights for a like-new shine. These kits tend to be the quickest way to clean headlights because they make the drill do all the heavy lifting.

UV coating

Some headlight restoration kits include a post-polish UV coating to go over your headlights’ housings. This UV solution protects the plastic from the damaging UV rays of the sun over time. This coating is especially useful for those who live in warm-weather climates where the sun beats down on your vehicle all year round.

Included power tools

A few of the more high-priced headlight restoration kits include their very own mini drills. These drills are meant for use with the included buffing and sanding pads in the kit. One advantage of these small tools over the use of a full-sized drill is the maneuverability you’ll gain by using them. Smaller drills can be positioned at different angles more easily than a traditional drill. Furthermore, they are not as heavy to hold for long periods of time.

EXPERT TIP

Some headlights need more than one treatment to remove the worst yellowing and oxidation. Be prepared to put in the extra elbow grease.


Staff  | BestReviews

Headlight restoration kit prices

Inexpensive: The most affordable range of headlight restoration kits fall between $5 and $20. These kits mostly offer handheld designs that will be effective at removing a moderate amount of oxidation and grime.

Mid-range: If you want to spend a little more, for around $20 to $50 you’ll mostly find kits that will include a UV protective coating to keep yellowing at bay as well as sanding and buffing wheels for use with your drill. Some will come with enough materials to work on three or more vehicles.

Expensive: High-priced headlight restoration kits can range in price from $50 all the way up to $800. They will often contain small power tools of their own that will make sanding and buffing easier as well as other handy accessories. They are generally similar to professional-grade restoration kits.

CAUTION

Follow the exact instructions on your headlight restoration kit. If you do any steps out of order, you can end up causing additional damage.

Tips

  • Inspect your headlights thoroughly before choosing which kit to purchase. If your headlight has permanent damage, you wouldn’t want to waste money trying to buff it with a kit that can’t do the job.
  • Always clean all excess dust and dirt from the surface of your headlight before using your restoration kit. It will make the entire process quicker and easier.
  • Attempt your restoration under cover if possible. Working away from the elements will make it easier to get the job done.
  • If your headlights are oxidized to the point where the headlights can’t be seen, you will need to work on restoring or replacing them immediately. They can be dangerous for driving.
  • Always put on protective gloves before using a headlight restoration kit. Exposure to chemicals can be damaging to your skin.
  • Do not add any extra steps to the process other than what is specified in the directions. Some people want to add their own home remedies into the mix, but a headlight restoration kit is based on the formula already set forth in the instructions. Don’t mess with a good thing.

Other products we considered

Many of the currently available headlight restoration kits can get the job done for a reasonable price. One of these, in the inexpensive range, is the Turtle Wax Headlight Lens Restorer. With three variable-grit sanding pads, it offers a complete process for getting those headlights shiny and new. It also comes with a sealing wipe to provide extra protection from yellowing in the future. A mid-range option worth your while is the Meguiar’s G1900K Restoration Kit. The Stubborn Defect Removal Pack is a great way to get rid of those last bits of dirt that don’t want to leave. Finally, if you’re interested in a pricier kit for the most difficult of jobs, look into the 3M Headlight Lens Restoration Bundle. This is a professional kit that includes multiple power tools and even a protective apron, so you’ll look the part.

Restoring your headlights to their original splendor could add hundreds or more to the resale value of your car.

FAQ

Q. If the dirt won’t come off using a rag and soap, isn’t it already a lost cause?
A.
Not at all. Years of weather and ambient dirt and dust collect on your headlights. To cut through these levels of contaminants, you’ll need the help of special compounds and tools that come with a headlight restoration kit.

Q. Does a headlight restoration kit require the help of a second person to do the job?
A.
No. Although you are able to share the duties of restoring your headlights, these kits are intended to be used by an individual, with the whole process usually taking about an hour or less.

Q. Is it possible to clean every headlight so it looks new?
A.
No. Although these headlight restoration kits can at times restore headlights to their original brilliance, with age comes irreparable damage to some headlights. Nevertheless, most can be restored using a kit.

Q. Are the chemicals used in headlight restoration kits environmentally safe?
A.
Yes. Although you will want to follow the instructions to ensure that you dispose of these compounds in a safe manner. They are designed for regular consumer use.

Q. Can’t a professional get my headlights cleaner than I would be able to get them with a kit?
A.
Not necessarily. Oftentimes, a professional who charges to clean your headlights will be using the same type of kit that you can simply purchase yourself. Don’t be afraid to do the job solo if you don’t want to spend the extra money on professional cleaning.

The team that worked on this review
  • Adam
    Adam
    Writer
  • Angela
    Angela
    Editor
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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