Headlight Repair: How to Oxidize Your Headlight

Oxidation, when it happens to car headlights, can lead to reduction of performance and increase of glare, requiring an immediate headlight repair job. This natural process is caused by exposure to sunlight and salt. Vehicles that are subjected to these conditions will eventually become prone to oxidation, which will ultimately cause the headlight lenses to lose their transparency, making them opaque. There are many different ways to remedy the effects of oxidation, but this article will show you the simplest way to clear up an oxidized headlight lens, all done without any tools.

What You'll Need:

  • 10 minutes of time
  • Clean, dry surface
  • Paper towels
  • Pure liquid, non-abrasive acrylic lens de-oxidizer (this is important – most de-oxidizers are abrasive polishes and rubbing compounds, which are very bad for the lens and can actually cause more damage. A true de-oxidizer is molecular reactive and works instantly as soon as it makes contact with the affected area).

Step 1: Determine the Problem

First determine that your headlights, in fact, need cleaning due to oxidation. Some headlights that may appear as though they need to be cleaned might actually have surface damage, in which case, this process will be of no use. To be sure that your headlights simply need a cleaning, be aware that oxidation is an opaque layer that covers the surface of the lens evenly. It is white to start, but eventually darkens to shades of yellow and brown. It is semi-smooth and blocks light from emitting through the lens. Surface damage is recognizable for qualities such as scratching and chipping. If the lens has this sort of noticeable damage to it as opposed to a layer of oxidation, you will need to find a different method to clean, as this sort of damage would require a much more rigid solution.

Step 2: Your Work Space

Prepare a clean surface to work on. This area should be clear of any unnecessary items and moisture. Make sure that you lay out the necessary items so that they are easily accessible to help ease the process along.

Step 3: Applying the De-Oxidizer

Use a paper towel to apply a drop of de-oxidizer to the headlight lens.

Step 4: The Cleaning Process

Rub the paper towel in a circular motion on the headlight lens. As you do this, you should notice the oxidation clearing from the headlight lens almost instantly.

Step 5: Finishing Up

Repeat this process on all affected areas, including the tail and marker lights if necessary, until all of your car's lights are clear of oxidation.

Over time, oxidation may begin to build up again. Don't think that you did something wrong through the cleaning process; it is a natural occurrence and it will rebuild over time regardless of how well you cleaned it. As long as you monitor the appearance of the headlights and repeat this process when they begin to cloud, you will keep your headlights functioning at their optimum performance level.