All of the headlights tested are of similar vintage (94-97) from a Honda Accord and have suffered heavy UV damage. Some products fared better than others.
The majority of the products we tested delivered on their promise of restoration at some level. Some performed better than others, some surpassed expectations while others simply outshined the competition. We were surprised by two of the least expensive kits offered by Turtle Wax and Wipe New. These delivered impressively smooth finishes with almost complete removal of rock chips and pitting. We did notice that every kit that involved a spray on sealant or protectant seemed to deliver a slightly “orange peel” finish. While clear, it is apparent that there is a coating on the lenses. Some seemed to have a sort of tacky feel even days after application. The professional systems from headlightrenewdoctor.com, LensBright and Symtech delivered excellent results, with the LensBright solution and its UVA light system offering the cleanest finish, with no tackiness and the clearest coating. The kit that delivered the most impressive finish was the 3M Headlight Restoration Kit with Drill Activated Sanding. This system eliminated chips, pitting, oxidation and the like with ease, thanks to its incorporation of a cordless drill. The four-step kit finishes with a foam applicator and rubbing compound, resulting in a glass-like finish. Note, however, that this kit does not include a permanent UV coating or protectant layer. Instead, it includes a synthetic protectant wax.
The Next Step: Endurance Test
While this evaluation showcased the initial impact that these restoration kits had on the various headlight samples. The next test will demonstrate the long-term durability of the products, and how quickly UV degradation can impact an unprotected lens. Stay tuned.