Automotive Headlight Coating Myth Or The Real Deal
High output headlights under normal driving conditions will begin to oxidase after 3-5 years. Some headlights on mid-size cars, truck and SUVs can cost as much as $1000 a light to replace. Let me ask you this, when was the last time you waxed your headlights? Or when was the last time your car wash or detailer said you needed to protect the clear coat on your headlights applied by the factory?
Headlight restoration done at a professional level is just the same. When doing headlight restoration correctly the headlights need to be removed, the clear coat oxidation needs to be sanded off. Now it would have to be determined if the headlight plastic could render a perfect finish again. This process could happen with the headlights in place but the finish will fail quickly over time. It needs to be done correctly to be valuable over time. The same is true for just respraying clear on the headlights.
Removing headlights on today’s vehicles can create some obstacles. Most require a full disassembly of the front bumper, or bumper cover and hardware associated with that; determining if the vehicle you are considering a headlight restoration to, is cost and time worthy.
Let’s say you decide to proceed, the headlights are removed, sanded starting with coarsest and finishing with finest sandpaper. Example would be 800-1000 to start. Then move up to 1250-then 1500 then 2000 grit before polishing them to perfection
But with all the products out there today claiming it will bring your headlights back from the dead- it must be true right? Wrong! What it does is cover up[ the surface with a linseed oil, or a type of solvent based material that enhances the shine of the cover for a limited time. It does not fix the problem. It also usually does not last more than a month or two. So if you don’t want to remove your headlights and can make the time to tape off surrounding areas around the lights. Sand the lights as mentioned and polish them back to a perfect shine why not do that? Making sure you let a professional re apply a long lasting synthetic ceramic coating is crucial! The reason i do not recommend doing this is because you have now stripped all of the material from the lenses that protects it from the sun.
I personally have tried all methods of headlight restoration and have found that removing and re- cleaning the headlights is the best way to do it. I have found a new way to protect your headlight lenses from the elements without having to paint clear coat on them. Ceramic coating the lenses after polishing them and keeping up with the maintenance of that. Recoating every year to two will cause them to remain in good condition through extreme weather and use for the life of the vehicle.