Rick's Free Auto Repair Advice

Does toothpaste actually clean headlights?

Toothpaste to clean you headlights? Don’t waste your time

What causes headlights to become yellow or cloudy?

Modern headlights lenses are made from polycarbonate plastic. It’s strong and crack resistant. But it scratches easily and is susceptible to oxidation. So new headlights are sprayed a scratch resistant clear coat to protect the surface layer.

Over time, the sun’s UV rays and the sandblasting effect of road dust and grit tend to wear off the clear coat, causing the polycarbonate to appear cloudy and yellow. The cloudiness can reduce headlight brightness by up to 80%.

Some people promote the idea that you can polish away the cloudiness with toothpaste. Don’t waste your time.

Why toothpaste doesn’t work to fix cloudy headlights

Toothpaste contains a very small amount of fine silica abrasive. So it takes a lot of toothpaste and a lot of elbow grease to remove any remaining clear coat and polish the lens.

Even if you’re successful getting the lenses clear, they’ll just turn cloudy again in a few months if you don’t apply clear coat.

There’s a better way to restore your headlights

Before you can polish the lenses you must remove the old clear coat. The best way to do that is with sandpaper, not polishing compound. The Sylvania Headlight restoration kit (rated as the best by Consumer Reports) contains increasingly finer grits of wet/dry sandpaper, a liquid clear coat remover, plastic polish and replacement clear coat.

Start by cleaning the lens with the cleaner. sylvania headlight restoration kitThen sand off the clear coat using the coarse grit wet/dry paper and water. Move the higher grit papers until you get a smooth finish. Then rinse and dry.

Polish the plastic using the packet and cloth included in the kit until the lens is clear. Then rinse and dry before applying new clear coat.

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Posted on by Rick Muscoplat

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