The 9 Best Headlight Restoration Kits

We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. If your car, truck, or SUV is more than a year or two old, chances are that its headlights aren’t shining as brightly as they could be. Using one of these headlight cleaning and restoration kits, it won’t take very long to remove the grime, scratches, and discoloration that result from extended exposure to dirt, debris, and damaging ultraviolet rays. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work.

9. Meguiar’s 1900K

The cleaners and protectants in Meguiar’s 1900K are designed to help you cleanse and polish a car’s headlights, but they’ll also work with taillights, turn signals, motorcycle windscreens, the windows of your boat, and various other applications.

  • Includes a thick wool buffing pad
  • Comes with a microfiber towel
  • Requires regular repeat cleanings

Brand Meguiar’s
Model G1900K
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

8. Vvivid Renewal

It may take a couple of hours to utilize to its full potential, but Vvivid Renewal can leave your automotive lights looking as though they just left the factory. Once you have this set, all you need is a drill and a common household cleaner to get to work.

  • 2 pouches of uv coating
  • Simple 4-step cleaning process
  • Wiping pad is weak and flimsy

Brand VViViD
Model pending
Weight 7.4 ounces
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

7. Turtle Wax 50764

A comprehensive set that covers all the basics, Turtle Wax 50764 requires just 15 minutes per headlight. This system works well enough for all but the most dirty and scuffed lenses, but you will need to put some muscle into it for great results.

  • Sealing wipes prevent future damage
  • Includes a drill arbor
  • Not effective on severe scratches

Brand Turtle Wax
Model 50764
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

6. Philips Complete Kit

This Philips Complete Kit is a must-have for anyone who regularly parks or operates his or her car on bright, sunny days. Sunlight is the chief culprit behind the yellowing and clouding of headlight lenses, and the cleaners in this set help remove that insidious damage.

  • Results last up to 2 years
  • No power tools required
  • Process can take a while

Brand Philips
Model HRK00XM
Weight 7.2 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

5. Rain-X 800001809

As long as you’re not afraid of applying a little bit of elbow grease, Rain-X 800001809 will effectively remove that pesky yellowish haze that plagues lots of headlights. It comes with plenty of cleaning solution for multiple applications.

  • 3 different grades of sandpaper
  • Durable pads last a long time
  • Not enough lubricant included

Brand Rain-X
Model 800001809
Weight 13.6 ounces
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

4. Sonax 405941

Once you have Sonax 405941, three simple steps are all that stands between foggy headlights and clear, brilliant ones. Plus, you only need to dab a small amount of the powerful polish to the application pad for impressive results.

  • 2 soft application sponges
  • Extremely fine sanding discs
  • Cloths are pretreated with sealant

Brand Sonax
Model 405941
Weight 8 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

3. Sylvania Kit

Unlike many ostensibly similar options, you don’t need any tools to use the Sylvania Kit effectively. The process relies on a series of potent chemical solutions that strip away the gunk clouding your headlight coverings, then polish any remaining rough patches.

  • Can more than double the beam range
  • Application takes only 30 minutes
  • Backed by a lifetime warranty

Brand Sylvania
Model HRK.BX
Weight 5.6 ounces
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

2. TriNova Clean

TriNova Clean proves that you don’t need a complex, expensive system to counteract the buildup of gritty residue and eliminate the cloudy discoloration from your vehicle’s lights. It’s easy to use and the results are virtually immediate.

  • Polisher doubles as a sealant
  • Provides long-lasting sun protection
  • Includes a tough sandpaper pad

Brand TriNova
Model pending
Weight 11.5 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. 3M 39008 System

A trusted option for motorists from all walks of life, the 3M 39008 System is often used by auto maintenance professionals as well. This high-value choice can breathe new life into your vehicle’s lenses, saving you plenty of dough on replacements.

  • Quick-acting polishing compound
  • Includes multiple sanding discs
  • Highly effective wax protectant

Brand 3M
Model 39008
Weight 4.8 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

A Brief History Of Headlights

Once you start moving faster than, say, a slight jog, it becomes incredibly important to be able to see at night. And without proper light, you could run into a tree — or worse, the bogeyman.

For most of human history, this meant holding a torch or lantern while riding on horseback, as well as limiting how much you went out at night at all. This was incredibly cumbersome, as riding a horse is difficult enough without running the risk of setting yourself on fire while you’re doing it.

Horse-drawn carriages had holders for those torches or lanterns, but traveling after dark was still perilous and slow. When the horseless carriage came along, there was a need for a better way to see, and so headlamps were invented.

These lamps used either acetylene or oil, which were chosen because they performed well in both wind and rain. Still, traveling around with an open flame was far from ideal, and so when the Columbia Electric Car came along in 1898, it was fitted with optional electric headlamps.

The problem with these electric lights was that filaments at the time weren’t able to survive long in automobiles, and it was difficult to make dynamos that were powerful enough to create a satisfactory current while still being small enough to fit in a car.

That issue would be (largely) solved in 1912, when Cadillac integrated their electrical ignition and lighting system. It also allowed drivers to “dip” their beams using a lever inside the car, so other motorists wouldn’t be blinded. Three-beam systems would be introduced on Packards starting in 1933, although these didn’t exactly set the world on fire (which may have been a selling point, come to think of it).

The halogen lamp was introduced in Europe in 1962, although they were banned stateside until 1979. Today, halogen lamps are still the top seller on the market, but new technologies, like LED lights and HID lamps, are expected to take over in the near future, as they’re safer and more energy-efficient.

In fact, driving in general promises to get safer in the coming years — so there will be no need to drive while holding that torch in front of your car ever again.

How To Restore Your Headlights

If you’ve been finding it more difficult to see at night, it could mean that it’s time to restore your headlights — or get checked for cataracts. But let’s assume it’s the headlights that are the problem.

The first thing you need to do, of course, is to get a restoration kit. Look for one that has a way of sealing off the lamp cover, something abrasive to remove the fogging, and a lubricating solution to prevent permanent scratching.

Start by washing the cover to get the first layer of dirt, bugs, and grime off. You can use warm, soapy water and a sponge, or whatever cleaning solution is included with your kit.

Wipe the lamp off and cover the area around it to prevent accidentally damaging your paint. Most kits include painter’s tape or something similar for this very purpose.

Now it’s time to start really making a difference. Your kit should include sandpaper or some other abrasive material. In fact, some kits include multiple grits, so start with the finest grit that will get the job done (the higher the number, the finer the grit). However, if your lights need serious work — like if there are scratches that need to be buffed out — then go ahead and start off with the heavy-duty paper.

You’ll want to wet the sandpaper before you start scrubbing; there may be some sort of liquid included in your restoration bag, or if not, water works just fine. Sand in one direction with the heaviest grit you’ll use, then go the opposite way as you move down in roughness.

After you’re done sanding, wash the light off and let it dry. Then, get a chamois cloth or flannel towel and use it to rub the polishing solution into the lamp; not all kits include polish, but you’ll likely want to invest in some. Polish it thoroughly, wait for it to dry, and then buff out the polish with a clean portion of your cloth.

At this point, you should notice a dramatic difference in the clarity of your lamps. Congratulations — you just brought your headlights back to life!

Now just promise me you won’t use the restoration kit to fix your cataracts.

Other Tips For Safe Night Driving

One of the biggest hazards you’ll encounter after dark is drunk drivers. Over 60 percent of automobile fatalities at night involve a driver under the influence, so this is not a matter to be taken lightly.

To minimize the likelihood of running into a drunk driver, try to stay off the roads when bars are closing, as that’s when the heavy drinkers will be heading home. Also, be extremely careful at intersections — look both ways even if your light is green. Keep a healthy distance from other cars, even if you have no reason to suspect the driver is intoxicated. In these situations, having an extra second or two to react could save your life.

Also, this should go without saying, but make sure you don’t contribute to the problem yourself. If you’ve been drinking, play it safe and call a cab or an Uber, and you may even want to invest in a Breathalyzer just to be extra careful.

Beyond that, keep your windshield clean and your cabin free of as many lights and distractions as possible. Dim your console when you don’t need it, and definitely don’t text and drive. Oh, and wear your seat belt.

But most importantly, regardless of what Corey Hart tells you, never wear your sunglasses at night.