It happens to most vehicles over time. The headlights that used to be bright and shiny now look faded and dim. But your ride sporting foggy headlights isn't just an eyesore for you and others – it can also be a safety hazard. Here are some ways to restore your headlights so you can let that light shine through again.
The main culprit of foggy headlights is usually that the UV protective clear coat that vehicle manufacturers put on the headlights has worn off over time. That said, the best solution – once you’re done cleaning – is to spray on a new layer of clear coat on. However, not everyone wants to do that, and not every situation warrants it. Household solutions like using toothpaste to polish headlights (yes, really) could work, but it also could remove the remaining UV protection. So it may be worth trying a few different solution to see what works best.
Inside and Out
If damage or fogginess appears to be on the outside of your headlights, you can try cleaning the lens with a glass-cleaning solution like Windex first. The next option would be to use one of the many cleaner kits available. Consumer Reports has a great list of inexpensive options, ranging from $9 to $21. If the lens isn’t completely yellow from losing its UV coating, you can also try an acrylic lens deoxidizer. Pollutants, debris and UV rays can cause oxidation of headlights, so this can help remove those.
If these don’t work, you can try sanding or buffing them (and if you do, don’t forget to wear protective gear like gloves and goggles, and follow any product safety precautions), but it might just be time to replace them.
TIP: Use the WD-40® Specialist® Industrial-Strength Degreaser to clean your engine. It’s safe to use on most surfaces, including metals, plastics, rubber, glass and aluminum.
(This was originally posted in April 2016.)