Are Headlight Cleaners A Worthwhile Purchase?

Are Headlight Cleaners A Worthwhile Purchase?

It happens to everyone - you buy a brand new car, only to find that after a year or two, your headlights have turned yellow. Not only is this unattractive, it also dims the light from your bulbs and makes it harder to see the road ahead. Headlight cleaners are one of the cheapest solutions, but do they really fix this problem?

In some cases, no. There are plenty of cheap products that claim they will restore your headlights to mint condition, but many simply don't work.

Why are my headlights yellow and cloudy?

One of the reasons headlights get that cloudy, yellow look is because of the sun. Ultraviolet radiation damages the coating on the headlights. Not all headlights will fade equally. If you keep your car in a garage or covered up all day, it's not likely to have much damage to the headlights. But cars that stay outside, especially in sunny climates, can get cloudy headlights fairly quickly.

You'll also find that debris from the road can produce tiny scratches on your headlight lens. Over time, these can build up and potentially begin to cause problems.

In order to fix this problem, you have to remove a layer of the coating that's on your headlights. The headlights can then be cleaned and covered with a new layer of sealant, which keeps them looking bright and shiny again. This is how the best headlight restoration kits work.

If you have anything more than a very mild yellowing, steer clear of any headlight cleaners that offer a one-step solution. There is no magic liquid that you can put on your headlights to strip off the old covering and give it a new one by itself. Even kits that take only two steps can often be inadequate and will leave headlights looking as cloudy as before. Restoring your headlights on your own is a careful process, and cutting corners simply won't give you the best results.

What should I do?

There are some great headlight restoration kits on the market. One of the best is the 3M Headlight Restoration Kit. This kit comes with a pad that must be attached to a drill (any regular household drill will work). You'll then use three different grades of sandpaper to strip away the outer coating of your lenses and polish away any scratches. After sanding down the lens, you'll attach a soft polishing pad and apply 3M's rubbing compound. The end result is headlights that look as good as new.

You can read a full step-by-step guide on how to use the 3M Headlight Restoration Kit here.

If you'd rather go for a kit that doesn't require the use of a drill, take a look at the Philips Headlight Restoration Kit. The bonus of this kit is that it comes with UV coating technology, giving your lenses an extra layer of protection from the sun.

Shop headlight restoration kits here.

Are there any downsides?

Using a restoration kit might sound like a lot of work. That's because it is. It's even tricker if you don't have a drill, which makes the sanding process a lot faster and easier on you. Even with the assistance of a drill, you'll potentially be sanding each headlight lens several times.

The other big downside is that this isn't a permanent fix. Headlights exposed to the sun and heat will inevitably turn yellow and cloudy over time. A good headlight restoration kit should keep your lenses looking good for longer than a cheaper option.

What are my alternatives?

If you don't want to purchase a headlight restoration kit, the alternatives aren't very appealing. You can simply let your headlights turn cloudy, but this 

poses a safety issue. Clouded headlight lenses can affect the brightness of your bulbs, as the light struggles to shine through the damage on your headlights. If you live in the UK, you can potentially fail your MoT for having headlights that are too cloudy.

The other option is to buy all new casing for your headlights. This will fix the problem, and it requires less work than restoring the old lenses. However, it's much more expensive. A new headlight casing may cost you around £40 per headlight. It's worth remembering that a restoration kit costs less for both headlights.

So, are headlight cleaners a worthwhile purchase?

Absolutely - as long as you get the right kind. Even if they're not a permanent solution, they'll do the job of restoring your headlights to their former glory. Some will even provide an extra layer of UV protection. Why not check out our selection of restoration kits to help you do the job right?