A new lens and the old after being restored.  Not a big difference, although the new lens is definitely clearer.
A new lens and the old after being restored. Not a big difference, although the new lens is definitely clearer. Click image to enlarge

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Blue Magic Headlight Lens Restorer

After 18 years, the headlights on my Ford Mustang were looking a bit tired. The clear plastic lenses had turned dull and yellow. At night, the lights appeared dim and no longer lit up the road as they once had.

Headlight lenses made of plastic become yellow over time because plastic, unlike glass, is actually porous. Heat from the lights, as well as heat from the sun causes the pores to expand, allowing dirt, oil, exhaust and other stuff from the road to adhere to the lens.

Left lens untouched.  Note the dull haze and yellowing particularly along the upper edge.
Left lens untouched. Note the dull haze and yellowing particularly along the upper edge. Click image to enlarge

The headlight lens is exposed to all kinds of other bad stuff – UV radiation and chemicals from car washes, for example – which cause the plastic to oxidize. If it was metal, we’d call it rust. Not surprisingly, oxidized lens take on a slightly rusty hue.

What to do? Replacement seemed like the only course of action. So I ordered a set of replacements, made to the original specifications, intending to pull out the old and put in the new.

Then I came across a product at my local auto parts store – Blue Magic Headlight Lens Restorer. The label indicated it would “remove yellowing” and “restore optical clarity”, exactly what I needed. And at $8.99 plus tax, it cost a whole lot less than new headlight assemblies.

I followed the directions on the label, applying the product with a clean dry cloth, rubbing in a circular motion to ensure even coverage. Then I buffed the lens with a clean dry cloth.

Blue Magic Headlight Lens Restorer.
Blue Magic Headlight Lens Restorer. Click image to enlarge

The directions suggest that extremely yellowed or hazed lenses may require more than one application. This was the case with my 18-year old headlights. I did it four or five times before I saw any real impact. Total work time was about 20 minutes.

Doing a little research I learned that a light wet sanding with 2000 grit sandpaper before applying a polish with a light grit like Blue Magic Headlight Lens Restorer will also help.

Even without sandpaper, the results are quite impressive. Check the photos; one shows the right lens (facing the car) after applying Blue Magic Headlight Lens Restorer, the other shows the left lens in its 18- year old faded and yellowed state. Just for comparison, have a look at the photo with the cleaned lens and the new lens just above it (see this photo at top of article).

It’s not perfect. The cleaned lens is not quite as clear as the new lens, but it’s a lot better than it was.

So now I’m in no rush to replace the headlight assemblies. I’ll put them away in case one gets damaged in the future.

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