Make your plastic Headlights look new again

I was searching the net for ways of restoring my plastic headlights on my cars. The net has gobs of ways that use "patented" and "secret" techniques that require you to buy their $79.95 or $59.95 kit with special secret ingredients and tools. I'm not about to shell out my money for someone's snake oil, so I decided to play and test on the family's old 98 dodge caravan. I started with the softest thing I could find that I could use for high speed polishing and get some force behind. At the local home improvement wearhouse I grabbed up some "polishing disks" these are 3/4 inch wide and 6 inches around and made of 40 or more layers of cloth and come in soft and spiral sewn models. they also sell buffing compound that comes in hard plastic like sticks. you want the two finest grits they have... The Ryobi brands have a pair of plastic restoring compounds, so I chose those. Puttin them in the chuck of my cordless drill gave me great results! I spent 1/2 hour and made one lens look 100% better than it has been in years. No it's not new looking, but it's clear again and I can see the bulb inside once more.

I spent a total of $12.95 and have enough stuff to restore about 30 headlights. some of the more yellowed ones will need a light sanding with 300 grit or finer sandpaper on a foam sanding block. I luckily do not have anything that messed up so I have not tried that yet so do not do it without realizing that you have the chance of destroying your headlight completely. Same with the buffing wheel if you let it sit in one place, keep it moving around and keep giving it more buffing compound. 1 headlight should use about 1/16 th of your stick. (I rub the stick on the headlight and buff to get more compound on it.)

If you want to see the difference, Look closely at the photo at the beginning on the post. This is a before and after shot on the left and right headlamps. They were both equally damaged and hazy from the sun and driving 175,000 miles. Like I said, if I spent lots more time on it I would get it almost perfect but I dont like to spend my entire day buffing headlights.

There you have it, dont spend $$$ on the stupid high cost restore kits, get the right tools and you can do it for almost nothing.

UPDATE: I did this on the Geo Metro and there was a drastic difference. I spent 20 minutes carefully buffing with the hard wheel and stronger buffing compound and then spent another 20 minutes with the super fine polishing compound and a very soft polishing wheel to make it look nearly new. I took a photo but it is not as visible in the photograph as the van is, it's later in the day and I shot from above instead of from front. This certianly is the way to go to restore your headlights. I put a coat of wax over them to protect, but I am not sure if the wax would attack the plastic.