LAST UPDATED: May 5, 2021
Best Headlight Restoration Kit: Refresh And Revive Your Cloudy Headlights
Make your view clear again with these headlight restoration kits.
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PUBLISHED ON May 5, 2021
Few things make your vehicle look old and worn than cloudy, UV-damaged headlights. Not only that, but cloudy headlights limit the reach of your car's headlamps and can hinder your ability to see far enough in front of you at night safely. That's why it's essential to keep your headlights looking fresh and clear.
If you've got damaged headlights and buying a set of brand new replacement headlights isn't in your wheelhouse right now, consider purchasing a headlight restoration kit. While it's not nearly as fun as buying a new car, it will drastically improve the look and function of your headlights without having you go into a five-year payment plan.
We've put together this handy product review and in-depth buying guide to help you weed through the plethora of headlight restoration kits on the market so that you can be sure to get one that will deliver great results.
A complete all-around kit that will restore clarity and shine to your headlights with long-lasting results.
- Includes rugged sanding and polishing pads that won’t dull too quickly
- Comes with an adapter to use with a drill to sand and polish
- Includes a chemical sealant and protectant
- Need to be extra careful to apply sanding and polishing pads evenly for a uniform appearance
A great budget-friendly kit that’s ideal for minor to moderate headlight damage and cloudiness.
- Kit includes a sturdy polishing pad, proprietary renew and restore compound, and two ceramic acrylic sealant wipes
- Can be used on all headlights.
- Super affordable
- Sealant doesn’t last as long as some other products
- Hand sanding can be difficult without the aid of a drill
A high-quality product from a name you can trust in an easy-to-use two-step kit. Perfect for quick restores on minimally damaged headlights.
- A proprietary formula that prevents re-oxidation for up to a year
- Easy to apply by hand; no tools needed
- Great shelf-life allows for lots of re-use
- Doesn’t come with an abrasive, making it better suited to fixing minor headlight clarity problems
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Why Buy a Headlight Restoration Kit?
- Safety first. You’re eliminating a potential safety hazard by restoring your headlights to optimal clarity. Cloudy or yellowed headlights often greatly reduce the amount of light able to shine through the lens, leaving you with poor visibility. Don’t ignore your headlights when they look like they need a touch-up.
- Money saver. Headlights, like most major parts of a car, are pretty expensive. By keeping yours in great condition with routine maintenance, you’re less likely to have to buy a replacement set, saving you lots in the process.
- Resale value. If you think you might want to sell your car at some point in the future, properly maintaining it can make all the difference in its value. Yellow, spotty lights aren’t exactly a feature people look for when purchasing a used car, so do yours a service and keep the headlights squeaky clean.
- Aesthetics. Even if your headlights aren’t cloudy enough to reduce light emission, they still make a difference in terms of the overall look of your car. By keeping your headlights in great shape, you’re ensuring that your otherwise spotless car always looks its best.
- DIY repair. A lens restoration kit lets you take matters into your own hands by giving you the tools to repair your lights without needing a professional. That saves you time and money in the long run, plus it’s super convenient.
Based in Maplewood, Minn., 3M has been around for more than a century. 3M’s philosophy is to apply science to innovate leading formulations, a mindset that has kept them flourishing. Popular products include the Headlight Restoration Kit.
Rain-X has been making automotive products for more than 40 years. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, it’s mission is to “outsmart the elements,” making all the products you could possibly need to combat foggy headlights and other automotive issues. One of its most popular (and newly formulated products) is the Premium Headlight Restoration Kit.
Around for more than 70 years, Turtle Wax is the largest automotive care company in the world. Based in Addison, Ill., Turtle Wax continues to develop market-leading products that deliver great results. Some of the company’s all-time best sellers include the value-priced Headlight Lens Restorer Kit.
Headlight Restoration Kit Pricing
- Under $10: You’ll find a number of budget kits at this price point. Most of them will deliver decent results, but it really depends on the brand and the overall quality of the product. If you’re looking for great results, we suggest investing a little bit more.
- $10-$30: In this price range, you’ll find several great options. Most will work well and deliver lasting results, but again, everything depends on the brand, with the more well-known ranking better than off-brands.
- $30 and up: You’ll get the best of the best in this price range. Products priced here will deliver stellar results for all cars. We suggest making this investment if you have a more expensive car, as the overall results will be much better.
Single vs. Multi-Step Products
Headlight restoration kits vary a lot—some are one step only, while others include two or even three steps. One-step kits typically consist of a cleaning solution only. While these do work to some degree, they’re really only meant for minor restorations. Two- and three-step kits contain an abrasive as well, which makes a huge difference in the quality and longevity of your results.
Tools vs. No Tools Needed
Some kits will include everything you need, while others require you to have a drill or sander on-hand. If you want stellar results, using a power tool can make a difference, but lots of kits out there work really well even without this additional step. What you select is really up to you—just keep in mind that the more damaged the headlight, the more restoration it needs, which is where tools do come in handy.
- UV Blocker. Products that include a UV-blocking fluid will help prevent future yellowing, oxidization, and clouding. That also cuts down on your maintenance cost and keeps your headlights looking great for longer.
- Lens Type. Watch out for products made for specific lens types. Although most headlights are made from some type of plastic, these do vary in their composition, making some products more suited for one lens type than for another.
- Ease of Use. Many headlight restoration kits are made for the everyday consumer, making them fairly easy to use overall. However, it’s important to remember that kits including a sanding or otherwise abrasive step do require a little bit of know-how for best results (and to avoid causing accidental damage).
- Kit Contents. Look closely at kit contents—higher-quality kits tend to include more of what you need than lower-quality kits. A complete kit should contain the cleaning and sealing solutions, glove, towel, and several grades of sandpaper.
- Headlight Condition. The more damage your headlights have in the forms of pits, scratches, and discoloration, the more heavy-duty the kit should be to provide good results. The best way to go is with a kit that uses a power drill for the resurfacing step.
Best Headlight Restoration Kits Reviews & Recommendations 2021
When it comes to a combination of reliability, great results, and great value, our top pick is the Rain-X Premium Headlight Restoration Kit. This kit relies on a dual chemical and mechanical solution to restore your car’s headlights to almost new clarity and shine. It’s easy to apply and delivers quick and dramatic results.
This kit includes durable sanding and polishing pads that you can attach to a drill or just use them by hand. The advanced wet-sanding process provides a deep clean that removes tough dirt and impurities. It also refines and erases scratches and haze to leave behind a smooth lens surface.
We also appreciate that this kit comes with a long-lasting protective sealant to coat your headlight and ensure maximum longevity. Many other kits on the market forgo this step or sell it separately. One thing to be mindful of whether you’re sanding by hand or by drill is to try to use as much even pressure as possible to produce a uniform result.
The Turtle Wax Speed Headlight Lens Restorer Kit is a great budget-friendly option for headlights with minor to moderate discoloration and scratching. It’s a four-step solution that will reveal results in minutes with just a little bit of elbow grease. This kit is designed to work manually, without the need for a drill or power tool.
It includes a precision polishing pad (aka sandpaper) that takes away surface oxidation and minor scratches. The proprietary Headlight Lens Repair and Renew compound is meant to improve your headlight’s clarity. Two ceramic acrylic lint-free wipes seal and protect the headlights for up to six months.
A couple of things to note about this kit: don’t get discouraged if you don’t have excellent results within a few minutes. It can take upwards of 30 minutes of treating to achieve the results you want. Also, be very careful to apply the sanding step evenly. Without using a drill, it’s easy to create an uneven sanding, or worse, increased scratches.
This kit makes restoring old, oxidized, and yellowing lights surprisingly easy, protecting them at the same time to keep them clear. One of the easiest systems on the market, this product restores headlight clarity without sanding. A quick cleaning with the included formula followed by the restoring liquid improves headlight clarity almost immediately.
The proprietary formula is made to prevent re-oxidation for up to a year, bringing this product up to par with three-step systems that involve buffing and resurfacing of the headlight. Keep in mind that this formulation can be applied by hand, but you’ll see the best results when applied with a buffer or drill. The formula has an excellent shelf-life as well, allowing you to re-use the opened bottle a couple of times.
Overall, this is a great product that will deliver the results to get your headlights back to looking like new. Keep in mind that really pitted and damaged headlights will need more elbow grease than just a quick cleaning and recoating. That’s the downside to this product: It doesn’t come with an abrasive. You can still use this to restore your headlights, but you’ll have to buy sandpaper separately.
The CERAKOTE Ceramic Headlight Restoration Kit offers a fresh and innovative approach to restoring maximum clarity to your car’s headlights. It utilizes a professional-grade ceramic coating that chemically bonds to your headlights to provide maximum UV protection and long-lasting results.
The kit includes a relatively quick and simple three-step process that will have your lights looking fresh and new in as little as 30 minutes. Proprietary Oxidation Removal Wipes strip away haze first. Surface prep pads and sanding discs get out deeply set oxidation and surface scratches. Then finish with the ceramic clear-coating for lasting clarity.
Because you don’t use a drill or power tool with this kit, be prepared for a bit of a workout. As with most hand-sanding kits, you need to be extra diligent to apply even pressure and technique to ensure you don’t get patchy results that could make your headlights look worse than when you started.
This headlight restoration is a two-step process. Step one is a spray polish, and step two is the clear coat. This kit will restore the clarity and visibility of your headlights. It also provides your headlights with UV protection to prevent further damage.
You’ll find this restoration process to be simple to follow. With the two cans, you can spray on and wipe. The included UV protection also provides lasting results and delays you from having to restore your headlights again.
Unfortunately, you may find that this polisher doesn't cut through the oxidation of the polycarbonate. You may need fine grit sandpaper to cut through the haze and yellow. The kit also lacks the tools you need to apply the sprays, so while you don’t need special buffers or polishers, you do need pads or towels to apply and buff the products.
If you have severe discoloration and haze on your headlights, consider the 3M Auto Advanced Headlight Restoration System. Its drill-activated sanding sheets are the key to getting maximum clarity and brightness.
The kit includes a disc pad holder, six 500-grit sanding discs, four 800-grit finishing discs, one refining disc, and a rubbing compound to give you a comprehensive and detailed clean. This kit even includes masking tape so you can tape around your headlights to protect your car’s paint job. 3M has thought of it all.
One of the drawbacks to this kit is that the directions can be a bit vague. It also takes up to an hour or more to achieve the desired results. The kit could be improved if it included another refining disc instead of just one, as this seems to be a critical step to getting maximum clarity.
If you have more than two headlights to restore, the Rust-Oleum Headlight Restoration Kit might be just what you need. This kit is designed to renew between 4-10 headlights, depending on how severely discolored and scratched they are. The kit includes one base pad, two 800-grit sanding discs, two 1,500-grit finishing discs, one 2,000-grit finishing disc, 1 ounce of polishing compound, and an application pad to provide you with a comprehensive headlight renewal.
You will need to supply your own drill, microfiber towel, masking tape, and a spray bottle filled with water. Expect this process to take as much as two hours, one of the longest restoration times on our list. It takes some patience and diligence, but the results will be worth it.
Some users have complained that they needed more polishing compound to fully complete the job on just two headlights. Also, consider purchasing a sealant spray to add longevity to your job, as this kit doesn’t come with one.
Restore your headlights with this restoration kit from Philips. It will remove yellowing, haziness, and dirt. The kit comes with everything you need with no power tools required. You can use this kit on your headlights, turn signals, and taillights. It’s a four-step process that promises professional results. The kit comes with a water-based pre-treatment, cleaner/polish, shine restorer/preserver, three levels of sandpaper, and paper towels.
What makes this kit stand out is that it promises UV protection for up to two years after application. This will help your headlights to stay clear for longer. You can also customize the process for the level of degradation that your headlights have.
One drawback of this kit is that it requires a lot of wet sanding. You’ll need to do several rounds of wet sanding to get rid of the yellowing and oxidation. If you don’t do these steps correctly, you risk headlights that are scratched and foggy-looking. The sanding papers are also quite small and may not last for two larger headlight lenses.
This renewal kit promises to clarify, protect, and maintain the clear look of your headlights. It will remove surface scratches and oxidation. The kit includes a 3-inch backing plate, polishing tool, restoration disks, and 8 ounces of polish. The process requires two steps. First, you place the polish on the center of the PowerBall, then you buff and clean.
What’s nice about this kit is that it comes with everything you need, and it’s designed to work with other car care products. That way, you can have an entire system that works together to give you better results. It also comes with clear and easy-to-follow directions.
The downside of this polishing kit is that you need the power tool from Mothers to be able to use it. The kit comes with the plate and pads, but not the tool that powers them. You’ll also need to be careful when using the sanding papers. If you do it wrong, you can permanently scratch your headlights.
This three-step headlight restoration kit removes haze, yellow, and corrosion. The kit comes with a surface activator, UV blocking clear coat, clarifying compound, premium sandpaper, polishing cloths, gloves, and applicator. The sandpaper comes in 400, 1,000, and 2,000 grit. To restore your headlights, you’ll start by applying the surface activator that makes it easier to sand. Then you’ll use the sandpaper and polish to clean and restore your headlights. The final step is to seal the headlight and apply the UV blocker.
You’ll appreciate the attention to detail that this kit has. It comes with a wide range of sandpaper grit to give you a smooth finish. It also comes with gloves, which no other kit on this list has. The UV blocker will ensure your results last.
Unfortunately, the included towels may not be large enough to use for application and wiping clean. They are also full of lint, which can make your application messy. You may also find it challenging to properly use the sandpaper if you don’t have experience. This can result in visible scratches in your headlights.
- Make sure to cover the edges of the headlight with masking tape to avoid damaging the paint job. This will also make for crisp lines in your headlights and a worry-free work area.
- Use varying grades of sandpaper to get the best results when resurfacing your headlights. Move from coarse to fine as you work your way down, and make sure to work in back and forth strokes if sanding by hand.
- It’s important to completely remove any yellowing before moving on to the next restoration phase. This will ensure a clear and even end result that lasts for many months.
- Remember to apply a UV sealant, whether it comes with your kit or not, as resurfacing headlights removes the factory protective coating. UV protection is one of the best defenses against future oxidation.
- Lens covers are a useful added precaution to keep your lights looking like new. They’re especially useful if you park your car outside in harsh sunlight, mitigating any potential elemental damage.
Q: Will resurfacing the headlights improve night visibility?
The number one reason to resurface your headlights is to improve night visibility and, thus, overall safety. Scratches and yellow haze drastically diminish the ability of your headlights to reach far into the night to see objects safely. The fact that your headlights will look new again after using a headlight restoration kit is just a bonus.
Q: What causes headlights to get cloudy or yellow?
Several environmental factors can cause your headlights to develop a haze or cloudy appearance over time. These include prolonged UV exposure, exposure to salty sea air, dirt and debris from driving or living in a dusty or desert climate, and high humidity, among other things. It’s just a natural side effect of driving an aging vehicle.
Q: Can my car fail an inspection because of yellow or cloudy headlights?
It’s unlikely that your vehicle would fail a safety inspection because of cloudy headlights unless they were exceptionally severe and posed an obvious safety hazard. Still, it’s better to be safe than sorry and be proactive in restoring your headlights before they get to that point.
Q: How often should I restore my headlights?
Headlight restoration is a car maintenance project that is easier, faster, and more economical to do regularly. Unless you have very severe exposure to harsh elements, a yearly restoration of headlights should be more than sufficient to keep them clear and looking new.
Q: Is a DIY headlight restoration kit as good as letting a professional restore them?
That depends on a couple of factors, including the quality of the kit you’re using, how closely you’re following the instructions, and how yellow or cloudy your headlights are to begin with. In most cases, a DIY session will rival a professional restoration job, but the results might not last quite as long.
Now that you know what constitutes a high-quality and reliable headlight restoration kit, it’s easy to see why we chose the Rain-X Premium Headlight Restoration Kit as our top pick. It’s an excellent combination of reliability, results, and value. It’s easy to apply and delivers quick and dramatic results.
For a quick, budget-friendly option, consider the Turtle Wax Speed Headlight Lens Restorer Kit. It doesn’t require any power tools to apply and is suitable for minor to moderate discoloration and damage.