Things You Can Do to Make Your Car Look New
In the past,
it was usually the paint that was the problem.
New car finishes
tended to fade fast unless fairly frequently waxed and polished.
The clear-coat finishes in use today seem to be a lot more durable.
Even if the car is left outside and waxed only occasionally (if
at all) the paint usually still looks shiny for many years.
But the plastic
headlight assemblies used in nearly all modern cars are a different
glass headlamps used in the past, plastic headlight lenses yellow
over and become rheumy-looking after as little as three or four
years. Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight as well as exposure to
ozone and acid rain gradually oxidizes the plastics outer
layers, which turns them yellow-looking, or cloudy. This makes your
car look old. Its also a potential safety issue as the hazed-over
plastic can reduce the light output of your cars headlights
by as much as 5-10 percent.
The good news
is you can rejuvenate plastic headlights to near-new look and function
in about 10-15 minutes with a little bit of elbow grease and the
right cleaner/polisher which you can either purchase at your
local auto parts store or via an online retailer. (Numerous choices
here; a Google search will turn up dozens but some of the better-known
name brands and outlets include meguiars
The cost averages
around $20 for most kits which is a fantastic bargain compared
with the cost of buying a new plastic headlight assembly for $150
or more each from your dealer.
It is not necessary
to remove the headlights from the vehicle to clean them up
and you dont need special tools or skills, either.
If you can
wash/wax your car, you can bring back the clear-eyed look and function
of your cars plastic covered headlights.
in the kit contains a fine abrasive; youll use it to gently
rub away the UV-damaged upper layer of plastic, very much in the
same way that youd buff out a no longer shiny paint job.
step is a polish-wax (the better kits will include a UV sealer)
that protects the surface from further deterioration.
You can also
use a good-quality general automotive cleaner wax such as those
sold by Meguiars or Mothers but for best and quickest
results, I recommend buying a kit/product specifically designed
to clean plastic headlight assemblies. It will have both the cleaner
as well as the polish/UV protector, which should keep the cleaned-up
lenses looking great for longer.
Some kits also
include special pads to work the cleaner/polish onto the headlights
as well as detailed instructions on how to proceed.
for purchase online include:
Clear or call 801-557-466)
- Or, look
for these products at your local auto parts store:
Headlight Restoration Kit (appx. $12.99)
Professional Headlight Restoration Kit (appx. $29)
- Blue Magic
Headlight Lens Restorer (appx. $10)
used and had excellent results with the Meguiars kit but probably
any of these products/kits will do a great job of bringing your
currently cloudy headlights back to near-new look and function.
- Use Mothers
Back to Black rubber trim restorer to get rid of the faded,
chalky look of exterior weatherstripping and black plastic such
as bumper trim. This product is literally wipe on, wipe off. Cost:
Less than $10 at any auto parts store.
- Clean and
polish your cars windshield (and other exterior glass) with
plain water and old newspaper. Newspaper doesnt have lint
(unlike paper towels) and the ink in the paper works like a polish.
It sounds fishy, but this trick has been used by professional
detailers for decades. Try it yourself and see. Cost: Free.
with permission from EricPetersAutos.com.
[send him mail] is an
automotive columnist and author of Automotive
Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his
© 2011 Eric Peters
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