Ever tried driving a country road at night with a couple of candles mounted up front to see by? If you were around in the 1800’s by any chance, then maybe you remember how it didn’t seem too bad at the time, but looking back….it was pretty terrible.
That’s kind of what the headlights were like on our little run around car, and we accepted that’s just the way it is. However, I’d always wondered how well those headlight restoration kits perform and with a spare couple of hours on a sunny spring afternoon I decided to couple one of these with a Philips +100 light globe upgrade. Let’s see if there’s potential to see in the dark behind yellowed headlight lenses!
Restoring the clarity and shine
I’m going to use the Turtle Wax Headlight Restorer Kit. First of all you need to clean the headlights. A bit of quick detailer was enough for this one. The instructions recommend masking off the paintwork, I suppose this stuff is pretty abrasive! You could probably get away with not doing it if you are good at ‘colouring between the lines’.
In the box there is a bottle of clarifying compound, spray lubricant, a couple of grades of abrasive pads, and lens basecoat and sealing wipes. As per the instructions I began with the clarifying compound. You need a bit of elbow grease to get it working, but wipe it clean with a microfibre cloth and the difference is incredible!
The headlights were looking awesome, but a tiny amount of haze remained. This is where the spray lubricant and abrasive pads come in. Each one of the pads is numbered in the order you use them, so just keep the headlight moist with the spray lubricant and rub each pad at a 90 degree to the one before it. Doing this is a little scary as it scratches your headlights up something terrible. As you work through the process though; it gets steadily better until you polish it up again with the clarifying compound. In hindsight I didn’t get much extra out of the abrasive pads, I think your headlights have to be very bad to need more than the clarifying compound.
Once they are all shined up like new, apply the base coat and lens sealing wipes. This prevents them from returning to their yellowed state after a week. Now it’s time to make the headlights perform just as good as they look.
Installing the upgrade light globes
This could be easy, or it could be difficult. It all depends on the vehicle. There’s a bit of a choice to be made here in terms of light output and colour, so find out what globes your car needs or ask a team member at Supercheap Auto to give you a hand. I’ve chosen the Philips X-treme Vision +100 globes, but there are also higher and lower power versions, or globes that put out a whiter light. Find out what globes suit your car by using our Headlight Bulb selector guide.
To install the globe, some vehicles will have easy access to the back of the headlight where the globe can be unclipped, and others may require removal of the entire headlight. Google or YouTube are your friends here, but generally it is a case of pulling the plug from the back of the light, removing a rubber or twist on protective cover, and un-hooking the steel spring clip to allow the headlight to pretty much fall right out.
It is very important that you don’t allow the glass of your new globes to come into contact with your skin. Why? Well the oils on your skin can create hot spots on the new globe, of course meaning that it’s going to blow real quickly! A pair of gloves or even a tissue to prevent contact is a good idea if you can’t quite manoeuvre it by just the base of the globe. Installation is as simple as reversing the process, ensuring that the globe sits correctly with its tabs in the right place, and that the spring clip lodges firmly as it should.
After all of that I took the car out on a deserted road at night for some comparison photos. I set the camera so that the picture which came out looked as close as possible to what I was actually seeing, and I left it on that setting as I changed between the globes. What you can see is that the majority of the light throws further down the road, and is also a cleaner whiter light than the old globe. That bit of extra light makes a surprisingly large difference down such a dark road!
This is totally a project worth getting onto. The whole thing only took half an hour, I’d bet that your only regret will be that you didn’t do it sooner!