Posted on

March 26, 2024

Headlight Restoration - A Clear Vision for Safer Night Drives

If you're driving at night, it's important to have clear visibility, and unfortunately, you're not able to see clearly because of your foggy or yellowed headlights.

Just because some light is coming through, doesn't mean that you're getting the maximum of light out of your bulbs.

That's where headlight restoration comes into play - it's not just for the aesthetics of your car (although that's a plus), but it's also for your safety, to be able to drive safely at night. you'll be able to easily spot potential hazards sooner, allowing you more time to make a safe choice.

Ready to see the difference?

Why Headlight Restoration Is Essential for Safety

Driving at night is tricky enough, and having foggy headlights makes it way worse.

When you buy a new car, you think just the usual car wash would keep your headlights clean, but unfortunately, all the sun, salt, and the gunk on the road causes damage to your headlights, causing them to become dim, cloudy, and yellowed.

Restoring your headlights will allow for you to see the road clearly at night, creating a safer driving environment for you, and for whoever may be on the road alongside you.

Reducing Glare for Oncoming Traffic

When headlight lenses become foggy or yellowed, the light they emit can scatter in unpredictable ways, creating a blinding effect for other motorists.

Speaking of glare, shameless plug, we can reduce the glare coming into your vehicle from other headlights, snow, and the sun with our window tint!

Let's get back on topic

Restoring them makes the light shine where it's supposed to – on the road –  instead of in other people's eyes.

Think of it like this: a clean headlight is like a focused flashlight. Restoring the headlights keeps the light aimed down at the road, making it safer for you and for everyone else driving at night.

Signs Your Headlights Need Restoration

Driving at night requires good headlights to see clearly. Over time, your headlights can get cloudy and yellow, making your visibility worse. Here's how to know if it's time for a headlight restoration:

Yellowing or Cloudy Headlights

This is the most obvious sign. If your headlights are yellow or hazy, they aren't working as well as they should be. This happens over time as sunlight, dirt, and chemicals damage the plastic. It's not just about how your car looks – it's about your safety at night.

Reduced Light Output and Visibility at Night

Can't see as well at night as you used to? That's a sure sign that your headlights aren't shining as brightly. Cloudy headlights make it harder to see the road and anything that might be on it. Restoring your headlights will give you a clearer view and help you spot things sooner, making it safer to drive at night.

If you feel you're having to use your high beams a lot more frequently recently, that's a sign you need to fix up your headlights.

Bottom Line: Headlight restoration isn't just about how your car looks, it's about staying safe on the road at night. If you notice any of these signs, it's time to get your headlights cleaned up!

DIY Versus Professional Headlight Restoration Services

Should you try to restore your headlights yourself or pay a professional? It's a question of cost versus results:

DIY Kits: Pros and Cons

  • Cheaper: DIY kits from brands like Turtle Wax and 3M are more affordable than hiring a professional.
  • Satisfying: You can feel good about fixing it yourself.
  • Limited Results: Kits work well for mild cloudiness, but might not be enough for seriously damaged headlights. You also have to do all the work yourself!

Professional Service: Pros and Cons

  • Best Results: Pros have the skills and tools to get your headlights looking like new and lasting longer.
  • More Expensive: You'll pay more, but you're also saving time and effort.
  • Peace of Mind: Many pros offer warranties on their work, so you're covered if anything goes wrong.

If you're on a tight budget and your headlights aren't too bad, a DIY kit might be the way to go. But if you want the best possible results and don't mind paying a bit more, reaching out to Elite Tinting and Graphics is probably your best bet.

Comparing Cost and Effectiveness of DIY Kits

I'm not going to lie to you. I'm a DIYer, I'll gladly do it myself any day of the week depending on how daunting the task is. That being said, I know I don't value my time as high, so I am able to get the work done. If you have better things to do with your time than fix your headlights, it might make more sense to run it by the pros.

For those who want to tough it out yourselves: DIY headlight restoration kits, such as Turtle Wax Headlight Lens Restorer and the 3M restoration system, offer a budget alternative to professional services. These kits will give you the right tools and also instructions to knocking out the restoration process yourself.

Plus, it'll give you a bit of gloating rights to your friends and family of the proud work you knocked out!

For those who have better things to do in life, reach out to the pros at Elite Tinting and Graphics, and they'll knock out the work, while you go to the dinner across the street. By the time you get back, you'll have beautiful and pristine results.


We got the right tools and experience to ensure the process goes smoothly and gives you the beautiful clear shine you need. Not only that, but we provide a warranty with our service, to ensure if anything happens where it shouldn't you are covered.

With us, you get quality!

Not only that, if you want to book any other exterior auto detailing service, you can get it done same day!

Steps to Restore Your Headlights at Home Successfully

Alright, we're going to give you a deep breakdown of step by step instructions. More shameless pitching here - might be quicker to give us a call!

What you'll need:

  • Car wash soap
  • Bucket of water
  • Masking tape
  • Sandpaper (assorted grits, usually around 800-3000)
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Polishing compound
  • Microfiber cloths or polishing pad
  • UV sealant (optional, but recommended)


  1. Wash and Prep:
    • Thoroughly wash your headlights with car soap and water. Dry completely.
    • Use masking tape to protect the paint around your headlights.
  2. Wet Sanding:
    • Start with the coarsest sandpaper (around 800 grit). Spray the headlight with water to keep it wet.
    • Sand in a circular motion, applying even pressure, until the headlight is uniformly hazy.
    • Rinse the headlight and switch to a finer grit sandpaper. Repeat the sanding process.
    • Keep progressing to finer sandpaper grits (e.g., 1500, 2000, 3000), rinsing between each change.
  3. Polish:
    • Apply a small amount of polishing compound to a microfiber cloth or polishing pad.
    • Work in circular motions to polish the headlight, applying moderate pressure.
    • Continue polishing until the headlight is clear and shiny.
  4. Protect (Optional but Highly Recommended):
    • Apply a UV sealant to the headlight following product instructions. This will help prevent future yellowing and fogging.

Important Tips:

  • Be patient and don't rush the sanding process.
  • Wet sanding is crucial to prevent scratching the plastic.
  • If the yellowing is severe, you may need to start with even coarser sandpaper.
  • Wear gloves and a mask for safety.

How Often Should You Restore Your Car's Headlights?

Determining the optimal frequency for restoring your car's headlights depends on several factors, including the level of degradation caused by environmental exposures and the effectiveness of past restorations.

It's essential to understand that while restored headlights brighten the road ahead, their resilience to future wear and tear hinges on both the quality of the restoration process and ongoing maintenance practices.

This section delves into key elements that influence how often drivers should consider restoring their headlights, alongside preventative measures that can significantly prolong the life and clarity of restored headlights, ensuring sustained visibility and safety on night drives.

Factors Influencing the Frequency of Restoration

There is no one-size-fits all when it comes to figuring out the frequency of headlight restoration for your car. The factors that play into this depend on the region you're in, and whether it's parked inside or outside for long hours. Someone who drives minimal in Duluth and parks outside is going to have a difference schedule than someone from California who drives for hours leaves it parked outside.

Also, vehicles that have to deal with roads covered with chemicals or salt, especially in areas known for heavy snowfall like Minnesota  might see a quicker deterioration.

Here's the basic guideline for how often you should check:

Factors That Affect Your Headlight Restoration Schedule:

  • How bad are they? Severely yellowed headlights will need more frequent restoration than ones that are just a bit hazy.
  • Where do you live? If your car is constantly baking in the sun or exposed to harsh chemicals, those headlights will cloud up faster.
  • Did you get a pro job? Professional headlight restorations with fancy UV sealants last longer than quick DIY fixes.

A Rough Guide:

  • Just a little cloudy: You might be able to get away with a restoration every 1-2 years.
  • Noticeable yellowing: Plan on restoring them every 6-12 months.
  • Can't see at night?: You might need to do it even more often!

Preventative Measures to Extend Life of Restored Headlights

It's going to seam pretty obvious, but giving your car a nice and detailed clean regularly (at least once or twice a month with soap and water will remove the grime and dirt that could contribute to the clouding.

Sealing your headlights with a UV Sealant can help out as well. This will basically with your headlights some sun block, that will protect it from the UV rays causing the fading and the yellowing. As a bonus, do your best to park your car in a garage or somewhere shaded to minimize the amount of UV hitting the headlight plastic.

It's impossible to do in Duluth and Minnesota in general, but do your best to minimize how many harsh chemicals your vehicle comes in contact with. We can't do anything about the salt on the roads during the winter or the chemicals, but do your best to wipe them off if you do happen to come in contact to reduce the speed in which they start fogging.

If you're extra, and want that extra protection, consider buying some headlight covers. It's extra work putting them on and off, and they really aren't the prettiest option, but it'll do the trick to protect them for extended periods outside.

As much as want to believe headlight restoration is really just for looks, it's a necessity for drivers. We want you to be able to safely commute at night, not just for your safety but for the safety of anyone else on the road.

Don't wait till your struggling to see at night, take care of your headlights and be proactive, whether you chose to work with Elite Tinting and Graphics or if you chose to do the DIY option.

For those who want to get it done and out of the way, reach out to our pros about our exterior car detailing services!