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How to Restore Headlight Lenses

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How many of you have plastic headlight lenses on your car or trucks and they have faded to yellow?

Well I have two vehicles that are like that and I decided it was long overdue to get something about it done.

My wife has a Nissan Maxima and her headlights were really bad. Each headlight assembly runs anywhere from $350 to $500 and I figured there had to be a something I could do to keep from having to buy new headlight assemblies.

While I was at Wal-Mart I noticed there was a kit just for this situation. It is called Crystal View and it came in a silver bag for only $20 and I thought I would give it a try. Here is a video demonstration of it.

Crystal View Headlight Restorer Defogger Directions

I decided to test it out on my car first and if it did well I would do my wife’s car. I did this in case it messed up, it would only mess up mine and not hers. Remember folks, a happy wife is a happy life.

The Crystal View sort of works, but its NOT the best way to accomplish the “like new” lens look. This kit comes with several sanding pads and some polishing compound. You first scrub it by hand with the heavy grit and a little compound, then move on to the lighter grit with the compound and finish it up by reapplying clear coat over the lens. If your lens is not in terrible shape this might work for you, but its yields unsatisfactory results. It didn’t look “like new” when I was done.

I’m glad I tried this out on my car instead of hers. Hers needed it worse than mine and I want hers to look fantastic when I was done, so this Crystal View stuff was not the ticket.

I consulted with the internet thinking surely I could find a better way to get this done and low and behold I found what I was looking for. You can find out how to do just about anything on the internet.

I came across a video by 3M that advertised a 3M Headlight Lens Restoration System that costs the same amount as the last product I tried.
This kit falls in the same do it yourself category as the other did, only this kit was more hands on and yielded perfect results.

3M Headlight Lens Restoration System

As you will see in the pictures, the 3m headlight restoration kit made the lens of the Maxima look like brand new, and there is no clear coat film added to make it appear like they are restored. These actually are restored to like new condition. They are sanded and polished!

So if you have some yellow headlights, spend the $20 on the 3m kit at your local automotive store, follow the instructional video, and in about one hour you will have fully restored headlights. You will have saved yourself hundreds of dollars and you will be able to see farther at night.

Summary:
Crystal View = Do not buy or waste time on
3M Headlight Lens Restoration System = Excellent buy, worth every penny

12 comments ↓

#1 DIANE on 01.25.09 at 9:28 pm

MINE ARE LIKE THAT TOO. DO YOU THINK I CAN DO THIS MYSELF?

#2 Chaz on 01.25.09 at 9:58 pm

I bought the 3M package about 6 months ago, but it has been in my garage ever since. Thanks for the motivation to use this stuff. Now, I just need it to warm up outside.

#3 Lisa on 01.26.09 at 1:58 pm

We’ve been restoring headlights for our customers for about a year, using the same method, but instead of buying a kit we get sandpaper and buffing compand you use when you sand down a vehicle to paint it, it works great.

#4 Mary S. on 08.06.09 at 1:22 pm

Yes, Crystal view is a terrible product – it ruined my headlights and they wouldn’t refund my money. I posted a complaint at the Better Business Bureau and found they are listed as a scam there with a rating of F. Beware of Crystal View and myheadlight.com – stay far away from them.

#5 Bill A. on 09.19.09 at 11:03 pm

Today I bought and used the 3M product. I followed the directions exactly and the results were awesome! The headlights were cloudy and yellow before. Now they are like new. Do not waste your money on any other product. You will be very pleased with the results of the 3M product if you follow the directions.

#6 Ed J on 12.05.09 at 6:08 pm

I purchased the Crystal View product. Initially I was satisfied but it did not last. Question: How long do the 3M product results last? Thank you.

#7 seizethepage on 12.05.09 at 8:10 pm

Oh yes sir. The 3m is THE best. I did my Intrepid and it still looks like it did when I completed the project. Also did my wife’s car, still looking good.

Its getting into winter time so be sure and read the directions on any product that requires you to do it outside. Some instructions say “best applied between xxF-xxF” so you wouldnt want to do any of them when its too cold.

#8 Jack on 12.11.09 at 6:57 pm

The problem with the 3m kit is that it does NOT completely restore the headlight back to the factory lens. It’s the original factory ultra-violet coating that fades and turns yellow. The 3m kit takes off that coating but doesn’t replace it with a new one! I just got the Headlight Purifier to do my headlights on my bmw and they completely restored it and applied a brand new ultra-violet hard coat. It looks perfect and it comes with a lifetime warranty! Yal should give them a call, 424-204-2205

#9 seizethepage on 12.11.09 at 11:14 pm

I had quite the opposite effect. I took my time and the headlights on my Maxima came out looking fantastic.

#10 mr on 10.09.10 at 12:18 am

ok

#11 TR on 11.29.10 at 8:13 am

Thank you for the post! I will be trying the 3M kit. I would not suggest trying to add a UV “hard coat” if that is the reason for the yellowing in the first place..duh..Not sure if that is true cause anyway but I will take Jacks word for it…sounds like he may have been “sold” on that idea. I would suggest using a coat of formula 303 on your lenses after each washing….this will add UV protection and condition the plastic.

#12 Chad on 12.15.10 at 10:42 pm

There is no easy way to bring your headlamp lens back to original factory finish. Once polycarbonate is coated with the paint and subjected to UV curing the coating and polycarbonate fuse together in what is called an IPL level and then a film build level on top of that. The polycarbonate and the coating have fused together at the IPL level, once you lose that coating the polycarbonate is pretty much worthless and any sort of polish or treatment is only going to be temporary. UV treating a polycarbonate lens that has already been through a UV cure degrades the core material even more. It’s best to replace the lamp or make sure that you keep a healthy coating of a good automotive wax on the lamp lens applied softly. Aggressive buffing will only erode the factory coating and speed up the degredation of the polycarbonate.

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