We’ve all be there when your car’s headlights have started to look foggy and ugly. Most people take their car to an automobile shop to fix this issue and get their headlights either changed or restored. However, there is a better ad much cheaper way of dealing with seemingly useless headlights.
You don’t have to cash out on an automobile shop every time your headlights look dingy. Instead, you can use some basic tools such as sandpaper to restore the headlight inexpensive at home. In this article, let us look at what grit sandpaper for headlights is an ideal tool for restoration.
Why Do Headlights Get Foggy?
Headlights are critical to know where you’re going in the dark. However, due to the following reasons, your headlights might get foggy and cause trouble.
- Water Vapor: Even though the best headlights have a waterproof seal construction, some water might enter the apparatus when you’re driving in the rainy season. The water after condensation will make the headlight’s light disperse and look foggy.
- Chemicals: As car ages and the more it runs on the road, the thicker a layer of dirt and chemicals it tends to accumulate. This layer tends to stick to the surface and make the headlight look foggy. Using coarse sandpaper to clean off this layer will be beneficial.
- Oxidation: The biggest reason why headlights get foggy is oxidation. With UV exposure, acrylic headlights tend to get yellow. Removing oxidization is very easy since all you have to do is use coarse wet sandpaper and remove the top layer completely.
What Kind of Sandpaper Is the Best for Headlight Restoration?
When you want to clean and polish a dingy headlight, the best sandpaper type is silicon carbide. The reason why you should you this specific type of sandpaper instead of others is because of its sharp grains. Silicon Carbide sandpapers’ grains are there so that they can cut through a headlight lens that comprises of polycarbonate at ease.
Another reason why silicone carbide is perfect for headlight restoration is that the process involves water application. Silicon carbide is perfect for wet application due to its uniquely brittle and thin grit.
The only problem in using silicone carbine sandpaper for headlight restoration is that it tends to lose grits too quickly. Therefore, if you are using the sandpaper for dry application, you will not sand another headlight with the same paper.
You can use silicone carbide sandpapers with the right grit for headlights in just about any size. However, the most popular size is the 3-inch diameter pads with a hook and loop at the rear end. These sheets allow you to apply full force without risking sanding your hand in the process.
In case you’re wondering what grit sandpaper for headlights restoration is the best, you will need the following.
- Removing Oxidation: 400-600 grit.
- Attaining Finish: 1000 grit followed by 3000-5500 grit.
The rule of thumb in choosing the right grit sandpaper is to note that the smaller the grit number, the rougher the sandpaper. The rougher the sandpaper, the more it will clean and wear off upper layers. Fine sandpapers are used to polish and give finishing touches to surfaces.
Different Stages of Headlight Restoration
Now that you know what kind of sandpaper and grit sandpaper for headlights is an idea for the restoration process let us look at how a headlight is restored. Each stage requires a different sanding technique with various grit sandpapers.
While learning how to restore a headlight is a practical process, you can only practically implement what you know theoretically. Therefore, let us look at the different headlight restoration stages and what grit sandpaper for headlights is used in each step.
Sanding Stage 1 – Removing Oxidization
The first thing you need to do to restore a headlight is removed oxidation. Using 600-grit sandpaper is recommended for the process. However, if the headlight is heavily oxidized, you can consider using courser sandpaper. The only thing you need to make sure of is not going below 400 grit to avoid scratching and damaging.
You must clean and tape down the headlight and undergo the wetting process with the 600-grit sandpaper. Use only horizontal strokes for the process of uniform cleaning. Even though this stage will leave some scratches on the headlight, using only horizontal strokes will help you get the cleanest look with the least damage.
It is also important to make sure that the headlight is sanded evenly and no two areas look different from one another. The aim of using such coarse sandpaper at this stage is to get a clean look. This stage should completely clear off oxidation, removing most of the headlight’s fogginess.
Sanding Stage 2 – Sanding Out Damage
After the initial cleaning process, you should use a silicone carbide sandpaper disk with about 1000 grit. After the yellowing is cleaned, you should wet down the headlight again and remove the scratched that have appeared due to the 600-grit sandpaper. Using the 1000-grit sandpaper should make the lens clear.
You need to sand the headlight vertically since doing so will remove all the horizontal scratches. The 1000-grit sandpaper is perfect for this job because it is neither too coarse nor too fine. Therefore, it is good for the extra cleaning but not good enough for polishing and finishing.
Sanding Stage 3 – Clearing the Headlight
By now, you should have a clean and almost-clear headlight. It is from this step onwards that you will begin to have fun with the restoration process. This stage is crucial to clear all the scratches caused by the course sandpapers by rubbing a wet 3000 grit abrasive sandpaper disk on the leadlight.
You can sand the headlight in just about any direction and pressure. In fact, sanding in all directions and all pressures will ensure that no scra5th is left on the surface whatsoever. It is this stage that will allow the headlight to look as good as new because of attaining absolute clarity.
The 3000-grit sandpaper disk is perfect for this step because they tend to be spongier and finer. The finer the sandpaper, the better the polishing quality, allowing for the maximum clarity and accuracy of cleaning. They can clean up to eight headlights due to their durable grits.
Sanding Stage 4 – Giving Finishing Touches
By this stage, your headlight should be more or less completely restored. It should have a new-like shine and should be devoid of all scratches and damages. However, as with any other restoration, it is important to give the final finishing touches to complete the process professionally.
To give finishing touches to a headlight restoration process, you must use a 5000-grit sandpaper pad. This sandpaper will give you the ultimate polished look, making the headlight look like it is brand new. Even though some people believe that using sandpaper with such fine grit will not make any difference, you will see how the headlight will look polished after this stage.
Using 5000-grit sandpaper is ideal for this step because these sandpapers will bring out the shin from the headlight’s polycarbonate material. Using the finest sandpaper will help you offer a professionally-finished look to your headlight.
Sanding: Wet & Dry
Dimensions: 9 x 11 Inch Inches
Weight: 4.2 Ounces
Purpose: Wood Furniture Finishing, Metal Grinding, Automotive Polishing, Metal, Plastic, Drywall, Fibreglass, Porcelain, Art & Craft
Perks: Premium Material – Fused Alumina Abrasive, Electro Coated Technology, Durable Latex Paper Backing
It is only with practice that you will get the most out of your cleaning and restoration process. However, at the end of the day, what grit sandpaper for headlights you use during the restoration process makes a huge difference in the result.
During the restoration process, the important thing to remember is not to use sandpaper with less than 400 grit. The finer you get with the grit, the more polished look you will get. Using the sandpaper in the right direction also makes a huge difference in your restoration results.