Foggy Headlight? How To Bring Brightness Back After Oxidation Sets In

If you have noticed one of your vehicle's headlights do not appear as bright as the other when driving at night, and it looks glazed when observing it from outside your vehicle, it most likely has become oxidized from the ultraviolet rays of the sun shining upon the polycarbonate it is made from. Oxidation cloudiness can be remedied with a few household supplies and a bit of time if you do not wish to foot the expense for a new headlight. Here are some instructions for you to follow when clearing up a foggy headlight on your vehicle.

Materials You Will Need

  • Bucket of soapy water
  • Non-abrasive sponge
  • Painter's tape
  • Garden hose
  • Brick-sized block of wood
  • Course, medium, and fine-grit sandpaper
  • Spray bottle
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Headlight polish

Remove All Debris

Before you attempt removing the haze on your headlight, it needs to be completely clear of any type of debris on its surface so you can sand it down without obstruction. Dip a non-abrasive sponge into a bucket of soapy water and use it to remove all grime from the headlight. Rub off any caked on dirt or dead insects then rinse the headlight thoroughly using a garden hose. Place your vehicle in a sunny area to dry.

Sanding With Dry Sandpaper

Use painter's tape to cover the metal around the headlight so you do not accidentally sand your vehicle's paint job. Wrap a piece of coarse-grit sandpaper around a brick-sized block of wood. This gives you stability as you sand the surface of the headlight. 

Scrape a two or three-inch area of your headlight with the sandpaper. Sand this area for ten strokes and then change the direction you are sanding. Sand for another ten strokes and change the direction again. Do this over and over, changing the direction you are sanding, until the entire headlight is free of pitted areas. Polish the headlight using a piece of microfiber cloth.

Sanding With Wet Sandpaper

Your headlight will have a frosted appearance after using the coarse-grit sandpaper. Place your medium and fine-grit sandpaper into your bucket of soapy water to soak. Wrap a piece of wet medium-grit sandpaper around the block of wood. Collect some of the soapy water in your spray bottle. 

Spray your headlight with the soap mixture and sand the headlight for ten strokes using the wet sandpaper. Spray the headlight again and change the direction in which you sand. Repeat until the entire headlight has been sanded, spraying the headlight before changing the direction in which you sand. Repeat this process again with the fine-grit sandpaper.

Finishing The Job

After you have finished sanding your headlight with both dry and wet sandpaper, place a dab of headlight polish on a piece of microfiber cloth. Rub this into your headlight several times in one area, pushing the cloth in the same direction over and over, in the same way you had while you were sanding. Use a dry piece of microfiber cloth to remove excess headlight polish.

Repeat this process many times, by changing the direction you are rubbing on and off after every ten strokes. When you see your headlight looking clear again, rub the entire surface with a piece of microfiber cloth dipped into rubbing alcohol.

Many car repair shops also offer headlight restoration if you find that you don't have the time to do this process yourself.