DIY Headlight Restoration Guide

You can remove and replace the protective film lenses to restore your car headlights.
Written by Talullah Blanco
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Over time, road debris and UV rays from the sun will dull your car headlights. A DIY headlight restoration involves removing and replacing the protective film lenses, which can become yellowed and hazed. 
Headlight lenses are usually made of polycarbonate plastic and coated with a UV protective film. While the strong plastic can withstand road conditions, the film will soil and dull over time. 
Keeping your car headlights clean is essential to driving safely on the road—they allow other drivers to see you and increase your visibility in the rain, sleet, snow, fog, or at night. Luckily, a DIY headlight restoration kit comes at the modest price of $15.
Here, the
car insurance
savings app
will walk you through how to clean, remove, and replace your car headlight film lenses step by step.
Jerry sends free alerts to keep your car up-to-date so you can avoid costly repairs
* checking your rate won’t affect your credit score
Get ahead of my car maintenance
* checking your rate won’t affect your credit score

What materials will I need to restore my car headlights?

Before you begin restoring your car’s headlights, head to your local hardware and auto parts stores to purchase the following materials:
  • Masking tape
  • Wet and dry sandpaper (1,000- and 3,000-grit)
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Headlight lens sealant
  • Polishing compound 
You can also purchase a basic headlight restoration kit for around $15. This will have all the materials you’ll need. 
Key Takeaway You can purchase all DIY headlight restoration materials separately or a kit. Just visit your local auto parts store.

Step 1: Clean your car headlights

First, wash your car headlights using soap and water. You’ll also want to consider washing the areas surrounding the headlights so your masking tape will stick. 
Allow the car headlights and bordering areas to dry completely before continuing to the next steps.

Step 2: Tape off the headlights

Use painters or masking tape to create a border around your headlights. The tape border will protect the car paint while you are sanding the headlight lenses. 
While this step may seem overly cautious, you’ll be happy you took the time to tape off the headlights when you sand through the masking tape.

Step 3: Sand away the film

Before you begin sanding, wet the sandpaper with water. Start sanding the car headlights with the most abrasive (1,000 grit) sandpaper to remove the protective film. 
Continuously sand using the next gritof sandpaper until you finish with the finest (3,000 grit) sandpaper. Your car headlights should be smooth when you complete this step.
Key Takeaway The number printed on the back of the sandpaper correlates to grit; the higher the number, the finer the sandpaper. Start with the lowest grit and end with the highest number. 

Step 4: Buff and polish

Clean off any remaining dust, dry your car headlights, and pour the polishing compound onto the microfiber cloth. 
Rub the polish onto the surface of the car headlights in circular motions until they are fully buffed and appear clear. 
You can also use wax to polish your car headlights or an orbital buffer to expedite the polishing process if you are comfortable. 

Step 5: Apply the protective sealant

Wet a paper towel and apply the UV sealant evenly across your headlights until they are fully covered. You’ll only need to apply one coat of sealant unless otherwise specified in the product instructions. 
Once you are finished, park your car in a dry area and let the sealant cure before you test out your car headlights. 

How to save money on car insurance

Restoring your headlights yourself can save a bunch of money and doesn’t take long. Finding savings on car insurance, however, can be difficult and time-consuming.
Luckily, it takes less than a minute to sign up with
, the free price comparison and broker app.
As a
licensed car insurance broker
, Jerry does all the hard work of finding cheap quotes from the top name-brand insurance companies and buying new car insurance. They’ll even help you cancel your old policy if you find a new provider you like!
The savings keep coming even after Jerry finds you great insurance at the lowest price. Before every policy renewal period, you’ll be presented with new competitive quotes, which means you’ll always have the best coverage at the best price. 
 “A seamless process and a fantastic app!
saved me over $2000 on car insurance. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone.” —Osvaldo B. 
Jerry sends free alerts to keep your car up-to-date so you can avoid costly repairs
* checking your rate won’t affect your credit score
Get ahead of my car maintenance
* checking your rate won’t affect your credit score


Yes! If your car headlights are slightly foggy, you can use toothpaste to scrub away the protective film, then apply the new sealant.
Estimate your repair costs for free with GarageGuard™
Simplify your car maintenance with Jerry.
Try GarageGuard™

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

No long forms
No spam or unwanted phone calls
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings