We tested 17 headlight restoration kits over a five week period to come up with this top 10 list of the best headlight restoration kit. The criteria that formed the basis of our list include; ease of use, effectiveness, brand reputation and versatility. We determined the results and ranking based on a visual and light meter test done before and after restoration. The top pick for the best headlight restoration kit is the SYLVANIA Headlight Restoration Kit
Headlight Restoration Kit Reviews
A little background about our team might help with determining authority on our top 5 list. We are a group of 6 lifelong friends, two are mechanics and the rest of us are your quintessential car enthusiasts. The idea for the top 5 list of the best headlight restoration kit came when we realized foggy headlights are a very common problem that no one seems to be talking about. Finding cars to test the different products on wasn’t too hard. We used our own personal vehicles, borrowed from family and the rest came courtesy of the mechanic’s clients.
We did a visual test of each car before agreeing that the headlights could do with restoration. We then did a test using a light meter at the strongest point of the headlight beam. We tried to keep the variables as few as possible and worked out of an auto shop.
Best Overall Headlight Restoration Kit
5/5 Product Rating
We were excited to try out this SYLVANIA kit to see if it lives up to the hype just based on its Amazon reviews. Most of us also had prior experience with this brand so we are not surprised that it takes the first position. This restoration kit is very easy to use and you don’t need anything else other than what comes in the box.
Restoration is a three step process. Simply wash the headlight, spray the Surface Activator, sand and polish and finish off with the UVB clear coat. The entire process took about half an hour and the results were impressive. The headlight looked good as new and the added brightness showed on our light meter test.
The results remained for the five week test period and long after we had compiled all the information. We love that this is an idiot-proof product because one of us loves cars but isn’t too handy around tools. Anyone can use this product and it comes with clear, concise instructions. We also noted that the product comes with a vinyl glove which is a small but much-appreciated detail.
– Jonathan Maxwell
2. Turtle Wax
Best Overall Headlight Restoration Kit – Runner Up
4.9/5 Product Rating
We have all grown up with the Turtle Wax brand so again, no surprises that this kit comes so high on our list. The only reason the Sylvania beat this restoration kit is the Turtle Wax has a multi-step process that can be intimidating if you don’t next to nothing about detailing.
We tested this product on two significantly bad cases and the results were impressive. One was a car brought in for detailing which the owner had used toothpaste to try and polish headlights. The results were numerous times worse than the problem he had to begin with. Another car was a family member’s with acute UV damage so the look on her face after the restoration told us all we needed to know about this one.
We loved that the Turtle Wax is affordable especially considering the high quality of workmanship it allows. We noted a significantly increased light output with the light meter test.
Lastly, we’d recommend the Turtle Wax to anyone who knows his way around different compounds and sand paper grit quality. In short, you’d get the best results if you have previous experience with headlight restoration.
– Jonathan Maxwell
Best Budget Headlight Restoration Kit
4.8/5 Product Rating
Philips is yet another solid brand that lived up to its hype during our review of the top 5 best headlight restoration kit. This restoration kit is actually very effective and the results after five weeks looked as good as they did the day after restoration.
Again, this kit requires you to have some prior experience with headlight restoration or at the very least, good at following instructions. It comes with two separate liquid cleaners which honestly make all the difference for protective sealing and polishing.
You might have to work a little harder for the results compared to the Sylvania but the results are worth the extra effort. Everything you need for the restoration comes in the box including polish, sand paper and a thoughtful latex glove. This product is also versatile and worked just as well reflective lens covers and taillights.
– Jonathan Maxwell
4.6/5 Product Rating
We had a thoroughly good time testing the 3M 39008 simply because we finally got to use power tools. We recommend 1200-1600 rpm power drill and the results are very impressive. The only reason that the 3M didn’t take first place is because you have to use it with a drill. We don’t recommend it if you have never used a power buffer before.
This kit passed the visual and light meter tests with flying colors. We also liked the multiple sanding disks so we could choose the best one for the job. We used the kit on a 9-year-old car with severely faded headlights. The owner was elated that he didn’t have to replace his headlights which he was ready to do.
The restoration took about a little more than an hour so this is definitely one of the more labor-intensive kits. The results are well worth the effort and we recommend this one for DIY enthusiasts with good experience around power drills and DIY detailing.
– Jonathan Maxwell
4.5/5 Product Rating
Finally, this Meguiar’s headlight restoration kit says it all in the name. it is a heavy duty restoration kit and the only reason it doesn’t rank higher is it is an overkill for most restoration jobs.
We loved that it is very versatile. We used it on a motorcycle windscreen and boat lights with equally great results. The product claims that it is a two step process but if you really want to see results, a power drill and sand paper are required. We suggest you get the Sylvania if you are interested in a simple hand-buffing kit but choose the Meguiar’s G2000 if you are the type who can’t imagine a thorough detailing job without power tools.
The package comes with everything you need except for the drill. We used this kit on a 1997 Buick Riviera with outstanding results. This kit passed both the visual and light meter test with flying colors and is the ultimate headlight restoration kit for a mechanic or experienced DIY detailing enthusiast.
– Jonathan Maxwell
6. Armor All
7. Clear Lights Tech
Headlight Restoration Kit Buying Guide
What is a Headlight Restoration Kit?
In the past, cleaning, restoring and maintaining your car headlights were tasks left to professional car detailers. Headlight restoration kits are products and accessories that help to do all these things at home, usually by hand. Some restoration kits may require the use of specialized equipment such as a power drill, which typically doesn’t come with the package.
With time, UV rays damage and common wear and tear cause headlights to yellow or become foggy. This isn’t just an aesthetic issue. This damage can limit light output which is a safety concern when driving at night or in poor visibility conditions.
Rocks and other road debris can cause small holes, scratches and other blemishes which accumulate over time. Again, this is an aesthetic concern and may also affect light output. The product mentioned here help with all these issues. Note that the amount of effort and expertise needed to use headlight restoration kits depends on the brand although we have attempted to make the distinctions in the review section.
How to Choose a Headlight Restoration Kit
The sheer number of headlight restoration kits on the market is what informed this review and guide. There are a few criteria that we used to narrow down 17 kits to just 5.
Ease of Use
The headlight kits mentioned here are all easy to use depending on your experience with DIY detailing. Overall, you want a kit that you can use effectively in two or three steps and get the job done in under an hour. The easiest kit to use is the SYLVANIA Headlight Restoration Kit if you have never used a headlight kit before. Other options such as the 3M 39008 aren’t exactly rocket science but they do require some kind of experience with a power drill and buffing.
Effectiveness is definitely subjective in this case because of the varying degree of fogging or discoloration. The point is you want a kit that will make a significant difference. The first steps to determine effectiveness is first to assess the kind of damage you are dealing with. This should help you choose the best kit for the job. The 1997 Buick Riviera, for example, definitely needed intense restoration that only a power tool could achieve. For superficial scratches and blemishes, you can get away with any of the hand restoration kits mentioned here.
You, of course, want a brand that has been proven for the long-haul and shown to work so you don’t have to take a big risk with your money. More than that, you need a brand that you can rely on in case there is an issue with your product. Renowned brands are typically happy to exchange or return products that don’t work as promised. You may also need support or clarification when using your headlight restoration kit which you would get easily from a reputable brand’s customer service department.
Finally, you’d waste a lot of money buying a separate kit for your headlights and taillights. The products we reviewed here work equally well for both lights. We also tested many of these on boats and motorcycles with satisfactory results. You may want to first specify where else you would be using the kit before buying.
Tips for Using Lens Restoration Kits
Once you have pin pointed the best headlight restoration kit, a few user tips may go a long way in ensuring you get the best result.
Assess Before You Buy
Detailing your car over the weekend may be a great way to pass time but you could be doing more harm than good if your car doesn’t need detailing in the first place. Remember that these are abrasive restoration products. The chemicals can easily ruin your perfectly good headlight if used on a clear headlight. Make sure that you actually need a restoration kit before going out to buy one.
Many of the complaints about the products we tested here are from people who refused or neglected to follow instructions. Our mechanics also often deal with irate customers who claim that the recommended product didn’t work, only for the mechanic to use the exact same kit but with positive results. Take the trouble to read the instructions. YouTube videos are also widely available for all these products in case you need a little extra help. Finally, there is no shame in asking for help or guidance from a friend or professional if you have never used a power drill for detailing.
A clear headlight isn’t a guarantee that you will have better output. Bulbs also disintegrate over time and lose their brightness. If you don’t notice any significant change in light output after restoration, try replacing your bulbs.
Regular Maintenance Helps
Finally, the best headlight restoration kit will have great results but a little maintenance on your part goes a long way. Clean your headlights with regular window cleaner every time you wash your car, or at least every once in a while. This advice goes double if your area sees a lot road salt and snow.
Any of the top 5 best headlight restoration kit listed here is a perfectly good choice. The condition of your headlights and your experience with detailing also determine which option will work best for you. You may want to ask for help from a professional or a handy friend if you are using a buffer for the first time. Overall, we were happy with the results we got with these kits and we have no qualms about recommending them.