Best Headlight Restoration Kits, Tested By Experts (2023)

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James Kiefer has been writing about automotive products on Motor1 since 2021 and has assessed hundreds of products for everyday drivers. He’s tested everything from headlight restoration kits to OBD2 scanners to dash cams, giving him an in-depth understanding of which products are useful for car owners and how they can fit into any driver’s lifestyle. Car Frame Parts

Best Headlight Restoration Kits, Tested By Experts (2023)

Shop for tire inflators, jump starters, OBD2 scanners, and more from Amazon.

A high-quality three-step system with great results.

A comprehensive kit with drill attachments.

An easy-to-use, drill-based restoration kit.

A good hands-on restoration kit for foggy headlights.

An all-in-one solution with easy application.

Foggy headlights not only look bad but can also impair nighttime visibility on even the best cars, creating a safety hazard. If you’re not willing to shell out the money for new headlight lenses, your wisest alternative is to search for the best headlight restoration kit. In one afternoon you can solve all your headlight woes.

Whether you’re looking for a wipe-on, wipe-off polish, or a multistep kit, we’ve done the research for you and have narrowed your options down to a few of the top headlight restoration products. We’ll give you the rundown on each product’s performance, features, and customer reviews, plus offer a few pointers on what to look for when choosing the best headlight cleaner for your car.

While testing each headlight restoration kit, we looked for products with excellent value, easy application processes, and that could tackle heavily oxidized headlamps. Below are a few key highlights of our top picks.

We chose kits from Sylvania , Mothers , 3M , Cerakote , and Chemical Guys as the best headlight restoration kits for 2023.

*Because cost data fluctuates, the prices in the table above are approximate values that our team regularly updates.

The headlight restoration kits in this article went through two rounds of reviews. We started by searching retailers like Amazon, RealTruck, and Advance Auto Parts for top products, looking at factors such as product reputation, ease of use, customer ratings, and price.

Our product testing team then ordered the headlight restoration kits that best met these standards. A team member tested each product on a 1999 Toyota Camry and a 2004 Subaru Forester taking note of the effectiveness, clarity of instructions, and value of each headlight restoration kit. Each headlight restoration kit was given a rating out of 5.0 stars based on these criteria.

Learn more about how we tested headlight restoration kits here.

Known primarily for its automotive lighting parts, Sylvania also sells products that can help restore your existing headlight lenses. The Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit has a three-step process that produces some of the best results in terms of clarity, proving it can tackle heavy-duty yellowing. This is why we’ve chosen it as the overall best headlight restoration kit.

Below is how the Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit performed during our testing:

When using the Sylvania product, the first step is to spray on the surface activator to soften the plastic. Then, you sand off the initial clear coat and apply a polishing compound. The last step is to rub on a UV blocker that will prevent future sun damage.

Sylvania is so confident in its product that it offers a lifetime warranty, which is a nice perk for a headlight restoration kit that’s so cheap.

Below are the pros and cons of the Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit

In terms of improving clarity, Sylvania was hands down the most effective of the headlight restoration kits we tested. The instructions were simply laid out and the liquid compounds had Step One and Step Two written on the bottle, so figuring out the process was a breeze.

The product utilizes wet sanding and calls for the sanding process to be done by hand, which can be more time-consuming than a drill-oriented kit. We also found that Sylvania isn’t as generous with materials as other manufacturers. Our kit only provided enough materials to restore two headlights, whereas other manufacturers included enough materials to tackle several cars.

Positive customer reviews mention benefits such as an easy application process and longevity of results, but some buyers report difficulty with customer service when trying to use the lifetime warranty.

Another name with some brand power behind it, the Mothers NuLens Headlight Renewal Kit aims for high-quality results and a leisurely restoration process. This earns it a spot on our list of the best headlight cleaners.

The kit includes a drill attachment, coarse restoration discs, a foam ball polish applicator, and a bottle of polish. The instructions call for a mix of dry sanding and wet sanding, so you’ll want to double-check as you move through the cleaning process. The only items you’ll need to supply are painter’s tape, gloves, and a microfiber towel to dry your newly shined headlights.

Below is how the Mothers headlight restoration kit faired under testing conditions:

If you only have light oxidation on your headlamps, you may only need to apply the polish. However, for light scratches, debris buildup, or pitting, the Mothers NuLens kit still gets the job done. 

Below are the pros and cons of the Mothers NuLens Headlight Renewal Kit:

Similar to the Sylvania restorer kit, Mothers NuLens did an excellent job in repairing our sun-damaged headlight lenses. Where this brand excels is instruction clarity and volume of materials, since we probably could have taken on a few more headlights after our first batch.

Two roadblocks kept the Mothers NuLens Headlight Renewal Kit from being our best headlight restoration kit: The drill attachment system isn’t for everyone, and the manufacturer doesn’t explicitly say the product protects against UV rays. So while the results are good, clear headlights months or years down the road are not guaranteed.

According to most users, results are fantastic when they follow the instructions. However, some users say Mothers NuLens doesn’t go beyond the level of quality offered by competing brands.

The 3M Headlight Lens Restoration System offers visible results at a competitive price. What you get out of the box is a power-drill attachable system that includes a disc holder, 500-, 800-, and 3,000-grit sanding pads, a foam buffing pad, and a buffing solution.

Like the Sylvania kit, the 3M Headlight Lens Restoration System lays out a three-step process during which you sand down the grit on your headlights using a series of coarse Trizact™ discs. One video reviewer goes so far as to call the sanding pads “magical” for the way they remove debris.

You can see how the 3M Headlight Restoration Kit performed in each of our testing categories below:

Since the kit is drill-based, you can expect it to take less time than hand-buffing, although total work time will depend on the cloudiness of your headlamps. If you want to get into hard-to-reach areas, you can also use the sanding discs by hand.

One important note is that although the manufacturer does offer it separately, no coating to protect against future UV damage comes with the 3M headlight restoration kit. So, you may end up using the 3M kit more often.

Below are the pros and cons of the 3M Headlight Restoration Kit:

Our review team’s results with the 3M headlight restoration kit were comparable to our results with the Mothers NuLens brand. Again, instructions were clearly labeled and simple, but material quality placed 3M lower on our list.

Some of the sanding discs we received were poorly cut. This didn’t impact performance, but at times it was difficult to determine the grit of a certain disc because the clarifying number had been cut off. We also ranked this product lower because it only polishes headlights and lacks a UV protective coating.

Customers applaud the value, quality results, and simple instructions. Many reviews claim the 3M kit was able to cut through heavily oxidized headlamps. However, some users of this product also say the results may not outshine those of competitors. We also found complaints about a lack of a UV protective coating.

Cerakote offers the best headlight restoration kit if you’re looking for a ceramic coating that not only protects from UV light but can also restore light output on highly oxidized headlamps.

The Cerakote Ceramic Headlight Restoration Kit uses a three-step process that begins with an oxidation removal wipe. Sanding comes next, and finally, after washing and drying your headlamp, you’ll wipe on a durable ceramic coating to protect your car long-term.

Below is our assessment of how the Cerakote restoration kit performed during testing:

Unlike a few of the other multistep systems on this list, the sanding pads in this kit don’t attach to a power drill, so you’ll have to use a little elbow grease for a high-shine outcome. However, it’s a great product for someone who enjoys the hands-on experience and time of a DIY project.

Below are the pros and cons of the Cerakote Ceramic Headlight Restoration Kit:

Cerakote did well restoring one of the foggiest headlights we threw at it. Similar to the Sylvania packaging, each step of the process is clearly labeled, and the kit even comes with two gloves (other kits typically include only one).

While the Cerakote did its job, it didn’t necessarily perform any better than any of the drill attachment kits or outperform the Sylvania kit. The plus side is that Cerakote includes plenty of materials if you’re willing to try a ceramic coating on more than one car.

Customers mention being pleased with the product’s ease of use and great value. One complaint we found during research was that the quality of the sandpaper was insufficient. Others said this didn’t perform as well as competitors. Additionally, some say the ceramic coating doesn’t provide much clarity.

Geared toward the car owner who wants an all-in-one option that works either by power tool or elbow grease, the Chemical Guys Headlight Restorer offers simplicity and customization with materials you trust.

After washing and taping off your headlight lenses, you can apply the restorer to any microfiber cloth and start rubbing it onto the headlight. This process can take several minutes depending on the amount of oxidation you have.

After the initial scrubbing, clean the headlamp and reapply the compound to polish. You can repeat this process until you achieve the desired level of clarity. Chemical Guys also recommends that customers use 2,500-grit sandpaper if there’s severe discoloration.

Here is our take on the Chemical Guys Headlight Restorer’s performance:

While the compound offers terrific results, you’re probably paying more overall for essentials such as microfiber cloths and sandpaper if you don’t already have them lying around. But, if you already have these materials and need a new polish and sealant option, the Chemical Guys Headlight Restorer might be the best headlight restoration kit for you.

Below are the pros and cons of the Cerakote Ceramic Headlight Restoration Kit:

As the most stripped-down option we profiled, the Chemical Guys Headlight Restorer lets customers choose how much effort they want to put into the headlight restoration process. For our review, we used the restoration liquid in its most basic form and applied it with foam pads. 

Chemical Guys says you can also pair its product with sanding pads and a drill, but those components aren’t required.

After we applied a few dabs to a polishing pad and thoroughly scrubbed away at headlight lenses, it became clear that if you choose to do this by hand, it will take several tries with the 

Chemical Guys compound to achieve noticeable results. We completed three passes and managed to lift much of the cloudiness.

That said, finishing two headlights took almost an hour. Other options on our list included more materials, and we managed to finish the job in less than 15 minutes. However, if you want a single-step headlight restorer, Chemical Guys is hard to pass up.

Consumers really enjoy how easy the Chemical Guys Headlight Restorer is to use, and they appreciate the amount of product you get for your money. Those critical of the product report less-than-satisfactory results, with fogginess returning to their headlights sooner than expected.

A few high-quality headlight restoration products are available on the market, and each has its pros and cons. When choosing the best headlight cleaner for your car, you’ll want to consider a few factors.

The cloudiness that appears in plastic headlight lenses comes from exposure to the elements. While plastic lenses last longer than the glass headlights that used to come in vehicles, the downside is that continued exposure to the sun’s UV rays causes oxidation and clouding. Manufacturers put a clear coat on the headlights to protect them from UV rays, but this breaks down and becomes less effective over time.

If your headlights are cloudy, you may simply need to wipe them down with a lens-clarifying compound. However, you may need a heavy-duty headlight restoration kit for more severe issues.

Few headlight restoration kits cost more than $30. However, you may want to purchase an orbital sander if you don’t already own one (though sanding can be done by hand if necessary). You can also pay to have a professional restore your headlights for you. Even the most expensive of these options will be cheaper than buying new headlights.

When we asked Robert Harper, Director of Product Development and Tech Support at Ziebart International, at what point a person should restore their own headlights, hire a pro, or simply buy new lenses, he advised that restoration is often the cheaper option.

“You’d be really surprised, especially at how expensive [a] new car’s headlight lenses are. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars. So it’s always, always cheaper – whether you do it yourself or have somebody else do it – to restore them.”

This calculation may change depending on your vehicle and the extent of headlight hazing. Newer vehicles (manufactured within the past three to five years) may be especially pricey.

Depending on your level of experience with DIY automotive projects, you may only need a bottle of polish to restore your headlights if you already have items such as microfiber applicator cloths or sandpaper readily available. If not, you’ll likely want to purchase a full headlight lens restorer kit.

Restoring your headlights can be fairly difficult, and you may have to repeat the cleaning process a few times to get your desired results. Using a drill attachment can speed up the process, but you may have trouble cleaning hard-to-reach areas such as corners. At any rate, you should probably block off a few hours for restoring your headlights.

Some products do a great job of restoring headlights from severe discoloration, but the main cause of discoloration is UV rays from the sun. If you don’t buy a product that offers a strong headlight coating, you could end up repeating the process in a few months.

After you’ve chosen the best headlight restoration kit for you, it’s time to begin the real work. You should consider a number of things before you start taking sandpaper and chemicals to the front of your car. Here are a few tips for avoiding vehicle damage and making the most out of your headlight restoration:

Whether your vehicle’s headlights are heavily oxidized or could use a touch-up, we’ve looked at five powerful options to add clarity to your driving experience. 

Below are some frequently asked questions about headlight restoration kits:

Our review team identified the Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit as the best headlight restoration kit for repairing sun-damaged headlights. We saw noticeable results after a single application, and the product is priced affordably.

The best headlight restoration kits work by removing built-up oxidation on a car’s headlights, either by sanding the headlights or applying a rubbing compound. The quality of the kit also depends on how much work the vehicle owner is willing to put into the process. A kit may not have your headlights looking brand new, but about an hour’s worth of work can remove yellowing and greatly improve nighttime visibility.

The best way to restore a headlight is by removing oxidation via sandpaper or another compound and then polishing the headlight lens. The best headlight restoration kits offer continued UV protection instead of just improving cloudiness.

Professionals may use a variety of methods to restore yellowed headlights, but the process involves some of the same steps you would use with a DIY restoration kit. The process will likely involve sanding, polishing the headlamp, and adding a protective coating.

WD-40 can be used as a headlight cleaner, although it doesn’t offer perks like UV protection.

Estimates for new headlights range between $60 to $200, whereas the best headlight restoration kits usually cost less than $30.

Using several grades of high-quality sandpaper is the most effective way to restore clarity to headlights, short of buying a new set of lenses. Polishing with UV protection and a compound washer also helps.

To test each of the headlight restoration kits, we applied them to a heavily oxidized headlight to compare results. Except for Chemical Guys, we limited each product to one complete run-through of the manufacturer’s instructions. Chemical Guys calls for multiple attempts to achieve the desired results, so we made three attempts for that test.

We focused on three criteria for each of the hands-on tests:

Our reviews team assesses each product with an understanding each option should be able to perform its intended task. From there, we adjust scores based on value and performance. 

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here .

*Data accurate at time of publication. Products subject to availability.

James Kiefer has been writing about automotive products on Motor1 since 2021 and has assessed hundreds of products for everyday drivers. He’s tested everything from headlight restoration kits to OBD2 scanners to dash cams, giving him an in-depth understanding of which products are useful for car owners and how they can fit into any driver’s lifestyle.

As a member of both the APA and IMPA, Charles Noyes has devoted himself to creating and refining quality content covering automotive products and accessories, motorcycle products, RV products, and more. As the lead editor serving the product review team, he has personally reviewed, critiqued, and fact-checked over 200 product reviews.

Best Headlight Restoration Kits, Tested By Experts (2023)

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