We have the 3M Headlight Restoration Kit (PN: 39097) to test out.
Online prices put this product anywhere from $11 to $15 new, depending on where you shop.
Other methods we have tried to clean up and restore headlights include the bug repellent method and the toothpaste method. Both methods looked better than expected – but not this good – and they only lasted until the next rain. Also, toothpaste is pretty hard to wipe off the lens and bug spray is sticky. The 3M Headlight Restoration Kit is probably the better way to go so far.
We read the 3M Headlight Restoration Kit instructions twice before actual use. Instructions say repeatedly, the more we work on each section of the instructions, the better the results and the easier the next step will be. So, we did each step 4 times before moving to the next.
Instructions say you can do circular motions or side to side. We did 4 inch circular motions from right to left in overlapping rows.
How to use the 3M Headlight Restoration Kit
- Clean the lens with soap and water. I suggest if you have your assembly off of the vehicle and want to wash in the sink, be careful not to get water inside the assembly. It will be hard to dry and when your headlights get hot, it will fog and will change the inside of the lens. You probably will not like the result.
- Tape off the areas around the headlights to prevent overspray and to prevent damage to your paint from the sand paper. Since we had the headlight assembly off, this only applied for protecting the rubber gasket trim around the assembly.
- Attach the roughest sandpaper in the package, the 500 grit disc, to the Velcro on the orange sponge. Make sure the sandpaper is centered to prevent scratches from the Velcro. Check throughout the entire process to be sure you do not leave any Velcro exposed.
- Use high pressure sanding to remove yellow surface from the lens. Wipe the headlight lens and clear the sandpaper disc of any sanding dust to get a more effective result. (Do this frequently throughout the entire process.) We made 4 passes to increase the possibility of good results.
- Wipe off the lens and inspect it to ensure the yellowing is gone from your headlight lens. If the yellow is still there, do step 4 again.
- Remove the 500 grit sandpaper disc from the sponge and replace it with the 800 grit sandpaper.
- Use medium to high pressure sanding to now remove the scratches from the 500 grit sandpaper. Wipe off the sandpaper and the lens frequently (we did this after each row) to get loose sanded dust out of sandpaper and off the lens for better results.
- Wipe off the lens and inspect the quality of your work. The headlight lens should look pretty clouded up and well, it should be pretty scary at this point. Yep, point of no return. Keep going.
- Remove the 800 grit sand paper and replace with the thick 1000 grit sanding pad.
- Grab a spray bottle filled with just water. Mist the headlight lens and mist the 3M sandpaper. Use medium to high pressure sanding motions to reduce the scratches from the 800 grit sandpaper used in the previous step. Spray with water frequently to keep the lens moist and get a finer finish.
- Wipe lens off and inspect to determine if you should repeat.
- Remove the 1000 grit sandpaper
- Install the 3000 grit sandpaper.
- Spray the headlight lens with water and apply medium to high pressure and begin sanding the lens with the 3000 grit sandpaper. Keep the lens and sandpaper disc moist throughout this procedure for a finer result.
- Wipe headlight lens and inspect your handy work to determine if you need to repeat step 14.
- Remove the 3000 grit sanding pad.
- Apply 3M Rubbing Compound (will be in one of the black packets) to the back side of the sponge (the opposite side from the Velcro). Use a dollop about the size of a quarter. Smear the compound evenly on the lens and use high pressure to remove the compound from the lens.
- Remove the masking tape and wipe the lens with a soft clean cloth. Preferably a microfiber cloth.
- If your kit comes with it, apply the 3M Synthetic Wax Protectant with a microfiber cloth. Use one cloth to apply it to the lens and another cloth to remove it in the same fashion you wax a car; but no waiting period. Instructions make it clear that you apply to the headlight and then wipe off immediately.
End results for these headlights was very impressive.
Instructions thorough – 10
Instructions easy to read – 10
Work too complex/too simple -10
Look of headlights after – 10
Cost – 10
Final score – 10/10