Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

The plastic head light covers on my '98 Chrysler Town & Country van have developed a heavy film covering over them. Is there someway of polishing or sanding these lenses back to their clear look without having to replace the entire assembly?

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Ken from Gulfport, MS

Answers:

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

3M makes a plastic polish. I purchased some for my husband at a car show a couple of years ago. I would check with your local auto parts store. They should be able to help you find something that would work. I can tell you the 3M stuff did wonders. (04/26/2006)

By dpcw

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

I have been in the auto body repair business for over 40 years and I can assure that once the headlamp lens turn completely cloudy the only way to fix them is to replace them. Sorry to give you the bad news. If someone would come up with a product to fix this condition they would be a wealthy person. (04/26/2006)

By BBAGBY

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

When the plastic headlight covers get cloudy, until recently,you have to replace them, but recently 3M and another company has come out with a product that restores the lens.They are available through automotive stores. (04/27/2006)

By Dean

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

Ken, I know this is going to sound crazy, I found this info on the web somewhere in some tips, but it works. My husband was constantly complaining about his head lights being so dim and the covers being cloudy. I told him about this tip and he thought, what the heck and tried it and it works! Here it is, cooking spray. Yep that is what I said, cooking spray. Spray it onto the lens and then buff with a soft cloth or paper towel. It worked really well for us. Try it what do you have to lose? (04/30/2006)

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By Michele

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

3M makes a plastic polish, as does Mothers.
Follow all the directions, sometimes they suggest using a buffer in the final stages for a real gloss. I've also heard of kits (made by Permatex?) that come with micro-fine sandpaper and polish. For a cheapie quick fix, use toothpaste and polish the lenses with that. I've used it on taillights with good results, but it takes a lot of elbow grease. Good luck! (05/02/2006)

By Catmaster

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

I wash cars on the weekend at an Infiniti dealership. Often we'll use the degreaser on windows, wheel rims, and headlight covers. I used it this weekend and the grime just came right off mine. It's worth a shot if your dealership has wash bays. Just ask for the degreaser spray. Be sure to rinse it off before it dries and don't let it get on the paint. (06/19/2006)

By Rachael

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

Use a cheep toothpaste buff it clean, wash and then buff with Brasso. (07/19/2006)

By Dave

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

We use Oxiclean to wipe off the film. You might have to let it sit on there a little, but it wipes clean every time! (07/24/2006)

By AML

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

I have a 96 Honda. The lenses were so yellowed I was worried about driving at night. I used to use the glass cleaner we used on radar scopes at work to clean them, but Cerama Bryte cook top cleaner works just as good. Just use on paper towel or soft cloth and keep buffing. You will be amazed at the difference. (09/24/2006)

By Kathy

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

One way we have found that cleans them is to use an acetone based nail polish remover, on my wife's 94 Ford Crown Vic. It works great, but I am open for better suggestions. (02/21/2007)

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

Crystalenz sells a great kit for cleaning plastic headlight lenses. I have used it and it works as advertised. The website is Crystalenz.com (04/25/2007)

By v8chevyguy

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

Hats off to Michelle. I tried cleaning my headlights with the Pam Cooking Spray, and it worked wonders! Now they look really clear! Later I tried the toothpaste, but it looked cloudy again. You probably would have to use a lot of elbow grease to buff it to a great shine. But with the Pam it was easy. This is better than paying $350 each to replace my headlights. Thanks, Michelle.
(05/16/2007)

By Linda

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

Some of the above ideas may work. I do not endorse the use of a degreaser (which is what the kitchen sprays are essentially made of). I know that toothpaste will make them worse in the long run. Of course most will admit that sandpaper is the worst thing that can happen to the protective UV layer, which covers the lens.

Depending on the cost of replacement I would not experiment on expensive projector lens covers. If the car is easily found in the junk yard, you can find a replacement lens, therefore you can take a chance on ruining your lens.

Understand the lens are no longer made of glass. That was the beginning of the problem. Using chemicals designed for metal and glass could cause mini fractures within the acrylic/plastic /polycarbonate lens. Degreasers would be absorbed into the lens and could cause them to turn yellow as a reaction to the heat of the bulb.

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There are plenty of companies that make headlight cleaners. The problem is that they are time consuming. Many take multiple steps to completion and 99.9 percent of them employ some type of abrasive. Of the few that don't only one, is a one step process, which takes seconds from start to finish: Pittman's Original One Step ALR.

One Step ALR is designed to remove surface oxidation from the headlight. Oxidation is the discoloration that starts out white turns yellow and finally brown. This is whats needed to be removed from your lens to make them clear again.

If you or someone else hasn't damaged your lens with abrasive cleaners, there is nothing that works faster or better and it's recommended for hi tech projector lamp covers. If you did use something like tooth paste or an abrasive, there is another ALR product called VaporWax (an acrylic paint conditioner) can help diminish the clouding side effects of abrasives on your lens. ibc34.com

(07/25/2007)

By 8th man

RE: Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

The acetone nail polish remover was a big mistake! Yes it took off the oxidation, but also removed the top layer of plastic which leaves the lens more dull and streaked.
Do not use acetone nail polish remover!
(09/24/2007)

By cheapskate#2

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

You could have saved yourself time and money if you had used Pittman's One Step ALR. It's designed to remove oxidation from acrylic, polycarbonate, and plastic lens on contact without damaging the UV layer or the lens. (10/02/2007)

By Wavemo

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

The Pam trick will only make the lens worst due to the oils in it cooking from the bulb heat. In time it will yellow so badly you won't be able to save it with Brillo. My recommendation is to use a cleaner or solvent made for that type of lens and make sure the product lists that type as a safety measure. A pair will only cost you less than 200.00 dollars at some places, may be worth it to make your car look its best for another 4 years. (10/12/2007)

By Tone

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

A few months back I bought a kit to clean my lens.
They looked great for a couple of months then I noticed the sealant on the lens was beginning to yellow a bit. It's been four months and there are places where the sealant has begun to chip and peel off. I contacted the company about their 5 yr guarantee and found out that their guarantee only covered the products usefulness. In other words it was their product's expiration date. Then they told me my problem was likely caused by the user not following the kits instructions. Long story short /I had to buy new headlights lens. (10/16/2007)

By Siddwndr

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

I had a company who said they could remove the micro-cracks in my plastic lens covers on my 1999 Jeep. First they used a very fine emery cloth and some type of polish. When they were done, they "painted" the lens with a clear paint. It looked OK, but now some months later, the lens show the brush marks of the clear paint and it is a lot worse than when I started. I have found some after market headlights on eBay for only $29 each side. I would recommend replacing bad headlight lens. You will be money ahead. (11/27/2007)

By Gary

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

I purchased the Pitman's system. It did not worked at all. The liquid will not remove the clear coat on the lens. I think that I was taken for a ride.
Brake fluid works as good as that product. That's what is probably in there. Anyways, I purchased lensrenew. It does take a little bit of patience, but the lenses look great. (12/01/2007)

By J.A.H.

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

Don't waste your money on Lensrenew. I have done body work for years and the lensrenew system is nothing more than old body work techniques that work on paint. After about a hour of applications and one scratch clouded lens later I sent the product back. They tried to tell me I did not follow instructions. I told them I work with the same body repair tools and compounds every day so there was nothing special about their headlight kit and that was not the case. That was over 2 months ago. I am still waiting on my refund. (01/09/2008)

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

Is using Pam some sort of a urban joke? I tried Pam, big mistake. (01/09/2008)

By whitejack

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

"I purchased the Pitaman's system. It did not worked at all. The liquid will not remove the clear coat on the lens. I think that I was taken for a ride."

It helps to read. It's a deoxidizer, the description tells you in bold letters it only removes oxidation and it "won't work on headlights with sealers on them". (01/09/2008)

By Masze

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

Acid and water with tee shirt. Nuff said. Don't buy any of that stuff and tell the makers of these stupid head lights to change them back to glass.

(01/24/2008)

By the pool guy

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

That dullness comes from oxidation.
Use a non abrasive deoxidizer to clean them up.
TIP: Put a little cleaner on your fingers and rub them together
If you feel anything other than your fingerprints it is not non abrasive.
Paste and polish are abrasive. (02/20/2008)

By Fastrak

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

Believe it or not cherry Koolaid works well no buffing. Just apply and let sit about half hour and wipe off with a damp rag. Wala! no more foggy headlights. (03/24/2008)

By Bob

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

A friend told me to use brake fluid and it works, but only for a while. Later a friend told me to try McGuirres PlasticX it also worked very well. Just follow the instructions and wa la, clear plastic headlights it only cost about $7 bucks, very cheap! (05/03/2008)

By Alex

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

Used the Permatex kit and it is work. Not enough sandpaper in the kit, it takes 4 hrs not 30 minutes and it does not do a good job. (05/14/2008)

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

I live in Germany. I ordered Pittman's on line and the stuff worked like a charm. The oxidation on my lens had turned brown!
A few drops of Pittman's cleared them up in a few seconds with no damage to the lens or mess to clean up and I still got a almost a full vial left. (05/16/2008)

By Katelyn

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

Toothpaste with baking soda used it on my BMW 540i. It works great, but as soon as you put it on wipe it off fast in a circular movement. (05/29/2008)

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

Here in the UK we found a product from America called Pittman's ALR.
It is truly an amazing product. My cousin introduced it to our car club and within a half of a hour we actually cleaned the lens on 20 cars out of one 1/2 ounce vial. Four of the lens it cleaned were actually solid brown. Now you would never know. They look new. A couple of members had used an abrasive headlight cleaning kit on their lens, they were scratched up so badly we could not help them. Pittman's removed the oxidation, but the scratches were still there. My cousin and I ordered more and now we both make a nice second income restoring oxidized headlights with Pittman's ALR. (07/09/2008)

By

RE: Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

Yup, cooking spray did the trick. I bought the brand name stuff and it just made a cloudy mess, but it looked instantly better with the cooking spray. I carry oil, power steering fluid, and now cooking spray! (07/22/2008)

By Lady DJ

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

I can tell you what does not work on plastic.
Sandpaper, rubbing compounds, and Pam.
All have side effect that are worse than the oxidation itself.
And toothpaste only works on glass. (08/12/2008)

By Anward

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

I tried using Mothers PowerPlastic plastic polish. It did not help in removing the water spots or oxidation that built up due to the sprinkler. (08/15/2008)

By Gary

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

The best stuff to use is Meguair's Plastix polish. I am a complete car buff and use top of the line waxes such as Zymol, Meguiar's, Blue Coral, etc. to keep my vehicles spotless. I applied the "plastic" polish to my friend's headlight that was completely yellowed like a stick of butter. It made the headlight 400 times better, but it does not make it look completely new. If you want to try a cheap fix, use the Plastix. They sell it at auto parts stores and even at Walmart for 6 bucks. If you want your car looking show quality and you have really damaged headlights you will probably have to buy new lights. The plastic rubbed on and off about 3 to 4 times makes a huge world of difference. (11/04/2008)

By CAR BUFF

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

(submitted via email)
I suspect this post is a commercial. Based upon my experience, the claim for Meguair's is a total lie. I bought it at NAPA.
The product I bought at Advance Auto is also extremely disappointing, but at least they do not post a lie on your website. They both contain abrasives, very fine grit sandpaper. I suspect that I have ruined the lenses.

H Boykin (12/19/2008)

By jess

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

Here's what I do, it's simple and it works!

  1. use rubbing compound (cheap)
  2. use polishing compound (cheap)
  3. use Meguiar's PlastX (about $8 - optional)

You can see at night again! (12/27/2008)

By DIY Mark

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

Nothing is going to work as well as replacing your headlights of course. I do the sanding, polishing, and clear coat at my job, it works great. How long it lasts depends on many factors, but if you just buy the stuff yourself not in kit form for about 30 to 40 bucks. You will have a 5 to 10 year supply, I am sure. All you will have to do is eventually clean, polish, and put more clear coat on them. Just remember to get wet sandpaper, some 1500 and 2000 grit. (02/04/2009)


By John

Plastic Headlight Covers Aren't Clear Anymore

Mr. Clean Magic Erasers work wonders! Let me know how it worked for you.
(12/29/2009)

By imarriedcarryunderwood

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