Thursday, March 22, 2012

Removing Oxidation From Headlights

This week's DIY project

Removing the oxidation (grime, yellowing) from headlights

Oh boy, the headlights on my 2003 Chevy Impala were looking pretty bad... and were dimming the candlepower that the headlamps were suppose to be projecting.   I knew that they looked bad, but I did not realize just how much the lights were dimmed because of this pretty common problem on vehicles that sit in the sunlight the majority of the time.   So, I decided to clean them myself.   I Googled, I You-tubed and I Wikipediaed (yep, I made two of those words all by myself!).   And I came up with lots of options for the Do-It-Yourself'er to use.

There were methods that used things you have at home (toothpaste, a clean cloth, and water), kits to buy at the auto parts store (3M and Turtlewax to name a few), Aluminum polish and sandpaper, all the way to $500.00 plus kits that include a high speed drill.  You can find and purchase any of the headlight cleaning kits at our online Auto Parts and Accessories store.  Simply go to the search bar and look up the products available by brand or just type in what you're looking for!  You'll also find some unbelievable Spring specials there like the link below! At LDJ's Auto Parts and Accessories store you'll find this deal and many more ways to save money.  These great deals won't last long, so shop early and save some big dollars on all your auto parts needs!

Save 15% Off Everything with code MA100
Find great deals like this and many more at LDJ's Auto Parts and Accessories Store!

So, I decided to try the toothpaste method.  First, you want to use regular white toothpaste.   Whitening or other pastes with additives such as mint or other flavors contain ingredients that can actually damage the polymer lens. Apply the toothpaste with a soft dry cloth in a small, circular patterns, cleaning about a 4-5 square inch area at a time, overlapping until you have the entire lens area grime (oxidation) free. Don't add a big glob of toothpaste to begin with. I began with a line about 3 inches long, then added about 1 inch ribbons to the cloth when I could feel that there was a drag to the cloth. When you think you have the lens clean (and you can feel the difference in the drag of the cloth, the oxidized lens will feel really rough), rinse thoroughly with water, and wipe with a damp cloth.

I could see a big difference immediately, but think I need to repeat this method one more time to get a 100% clear lens. I am an impatient person, and I had other things I wanted to do that morning, or I would have spent a bit more time on it so I would not have to repeat myself!   It only took me 12 minutes to do the left lens.   I left the right lens hazy, and that evening, I took the car for a drive down a back road with no streetlights.   WOW – big difference between the light from the left and right lens!   So tomorrow I am going to clean the right lens and redo the left one.
The information I got from the internet says that they will remain clear for 6 to 12 months, but since this was so cheap and easy, that is okay with me. I am going to do more research on applying a clear coat to the lens after cleaning, since this was mentioned in one of the other methods... more on this later.

Now on the other hand, if you don't want to do this yourself, call Larry or Dee at LDJ Auto Body and Custom Shop for an appointment to let the professionals take care of it for you. Their phone number is 813-644-4497 or email They charge only $20 per headlight. I think that is a great deal and I would have had Larry polish mine, but then I would not have gotten to experience this and give you my “first hand” view!

Items needed: Small tube regular white toothpaste
Soft, clean dry cloth (I used an old wash cloth)


Time: 10-20 minutes per headlight depending on the degree of oxidation

Cost: Less than $5.00


Author: Betty Skidmore, Technical Writer/Editor/Custom Car and Motorcycle Fanatic!

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