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Headlight Restoration

Updated: Jul 23, 2023

It’s about beauty for sure but its more than just a cosmetic issue, clouded lenses can pose a serious threat to safety, compromising night vision and reducing the effectiveness of your headlights by up to 80 percent, hence why they can fail an M.O.T


With a quality headlight restoration process, the results can:

  • Last several years;

  • Cost significantly less than replacement;

  • Improve safety

  • Help your vehicle pass an M.O.T

  • keep them out of our landfills.



Headlights are usually moulded from polycarbonate polymer - tough stuff that really takes a beating and holds up amazingly well. However, over time, dust, debris, atmospheric chemicals, automatic car washes and ultraviolet (UV) radiation can break down the surface. Not only does it make the lenses look dull, it reduces the amount of light hitting the road whilst driving at night so they require maintenance at least once every few years, depending on driving conditions.

Some types of damage, like cracks and stone chips may necessitate replacement of the headlight assembly but most foggy headlights can be returned to a like-new condition with a professional headlight restoration.


So why not just buy new headlight Lenses?

Headlights can be very expensive, ranging all the way up to and over £1,000 for some luxury cars. Professional headlight polishing provides a low-cost option to purchasing new lenses.

You can buy after-market lights for some cars but they are not made as well, dont fit the same and dont last as long.



 

Four Things to Know About Headlight Restoration

Maybe you’re considering a do-it-yourself restoration and wondering how the results will compare to a professional job. Before you buy that kit or spray that insect repellent, here are four things you should know:


1. Pro Headlight Restoration Improves Driving Safety

We tend to take our headlights for granted, as long as light keeps coming out of them. Even for those of us who faithfully check the fluids, pump up the tyres and wash and wax the body, headlights require so little maintenance that we tend to forget about them altogether. Headlight lenses are engineered to give you the best possible view of potential hazards when you drive at night, any dullness to the finish changes the amount and dispersion of light on the road, making it harder to see pedestrians, animals, vehicles and other objects. Because foggy lenses reduce light transmission, your vehicle is also less visible to oncoming traffic at a distance.


Headlights are made of high-tech plastics that last for years and are overall safer than glass but plastic is subject to cloudiness and discoloration from radiation, chemicals and abrasives in the atmosphere, so it requires special care. Professional restorers use polishes and cleaners specifically designed for these materials, achieving optimal results without harming the lens or surrounding materials.


nice clear beam
Light beam as the factory intended

2. Headlight Restoration is Inexpensive

We tend to associate big price tags with vehicle repairs, too often, it’s true. Headlight restoration doesn’t fall into that category. It costs around £50 for each lens. Compare that to a replacement cost of £250 to £1000 for a single headlight assembly and restoration becomes a no-brainer.

While it can be tempting to cut corners and do the job yourself, professionals use custom designed tools and professional grade products, providing a better looking, longer lasting result for only a few pounds more than the cost of a do-it-yourself kit. So…


3. Should it Be Done Professionally?

Sometimes the best tools and techniques make all the difference, and this is one of those times. You may have read about “home remedies” for headlight polishing, but some of these chemicals harm paint, gaskets and trim components around the headlight. Many people use insect repellent to restore headlights without realising that they are damaging the surface of the lens. Unlike polishes, this method chemically melts the headlight lens so that when you polish it with a cloth or paper towel, you’re actually rubbing the molten plastic into a smoother finish - very bad. As the surface of the headlight is chemically softened, it will attract even more particles and impurities, which usually makes the finish look dull again within a few days. Toothpaste polishing is another popular do-it-yourself method, but this type of abrasive is not specified for lens material (which is much softer than tooth enamel), and it can prematurely wear down the surface, shortening lens life.


toothpaste doesnt work
Very temporary fix

Professional restoration products and methods polish the plastic with micro-fine abrasives designed to bring the lenses back to a glass-like finish without unnecessary wear or chemical degradation to the plastic.



4. Professional Restoration Lasts Longer

Professional restorers finish the job by applying a UV-resistant clear coat on the polished lens that keeps harmful ultraviolet rays from discolouring the plastic, like sunscreen for headlights. By using the right products and methods, professional restorers avoid damage to seals, chrome and the lens itself.

As with a TidyRide valet / detail, headlight restoration can make a dramatic difference to the appearance (and functionality) of your headlights helping them pass an M.O.T.

At £50, it’s some of the best money you’ll ever spend on your vehicles maintenance.




Step 1 – Inspect & Operation

First we do a visual inspection of your vehicles headlights to check for chips or cracks that could compromise the restoration process. If they have previously been restored then there may be additional work needed especially if 2k paint clear coat has been used. This is a big no no.


Step 2 – Clean & Prepare

We clean the area around the lights to prevent contamination during the restoration process, then we carefully protect the bodywork around your vehicles headlights with valet-grade protective tapes and coverings. Taking care around and paint issues on the bumper.


Step 3 – Restore

Using a selection of specialist power tools, hand tools, sanding discs, polishing discs and compounds we gently power, hand sand and polish your vehicles headlights removing the expired finish and restoring the factory clarity and sparkle to the headlight lenses.


Step 4 – Clean & Protect

We high speed polish the lenses with a dedicated cleaner and sealant which also adds acrylic resins to aid in preventing future yellowing.


Step 5 – Final Finish

We use a spray on dedicated headlight clear coat which is resistant to UV rays and environmental conditions, adds a non yellowing, tough scratch and impact resistant coating over the lens surface.


Finally we remove the protective tapes and coverings and clean the area as necessary.

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