Faded headlights can seriously let down the overall look of a vehicle and can also compromise the actual operation of them. Many cars headlights that have begun to fade are simply left to get worse and worse because the owners do not think that anything can be done about the problem apart from completely replacing them with new units.
Headlights can though, be effectively restored like the rest of the vehicle back to a fresh looking, smooth and crystal clear standard. Headlights may become faded due to a number of factors such as harmful uv rays, rainwater, bonded surface contaminants, baked on bug splats and improper cleaning techniques for example.
In order to restore faded headlights they need to be thoroughly cleaned and ideally clayed first to remove all lose and bonded surface contaminants. A plastic polishing product should then be used to polish the lenses. You should ensure that all surrounding paintwork and trim is sufficiently protected to prevent the plastic polish from contaminating it. The product can either be applied and worked in by hand or by machine, but using a machine will achieve the desired results far more quickly and easily.
If you are unable to use a designated plastic polish then any normal abrasive paintwork polish can be used. You should begin with the least abrasive product only working up to a more aggressive one if necessary. If a fairly heavily abrasive polish product needs to be used it is advisable to then re polish the area with a finer grade polish in order to refine the finish.
Some headlights may contain stone chips and be very heavily faded in which case they will need to be wet sanded prior to polishing. You should use the appropriate fine grades of paper and use plenty of water or even a detailing spray as a lubricant. You should thoroughly work your way through the grades until the headlight has been finished using the finest grade of paper. It should be noted that if a headlight is to be wet sanded you should ideally have access to a machine polisher as you will not be able to remove the sanding marks properly by hand.
After wet sanding, the headlight lens should be machine polished to with an appropriate pad and abrasive polish remove the wet sanding marks and restore it to a clear standard. Again you may need to re polish with a finer grade product in order to fully refine the finish.
After polishing, it is important to properly protect the headlight to help prevent it from fading again. Ideally a good quality synthetic sealant should be used for this as these types of product tend to provide the best durability and are ideally suited for areas of a vehicle that are exposed and vulnerable. The headlights should then be maintained along with the rest of the car, by regularly washing and drying and reapplying the protection as it fades.