I never thought I’d be reviewing detailing products, especially on our VW Jetta Smyth Ute donor. But the car had an issue common to many older cars with plastic headlight housings – a nasty haze that drastically reduces light output, not to mention looks ugly. I could buy a replacement pair for $63, or some nifty E-code lights for $229. But I’m cheap and don’t feel like spending any more money than I have to on this car until its ute conversion is complete. It turned out I already had a solution for this problem kicking around the garage – a Turtle Wax Headlight Restorer Kit.
I originally picked this kit for our Ford Focus LX, but its headlights – and the whole front of the car – were coated with rust deposits from the water sprinklers at the condo complex where I used to live. A quick spray and wipe with the spray lubricant was all I needed to clear them up. But the Jetta needed the full treatment, since the plastic itself had degraded from years in the sun. Since I found this already in my garage it was essentially free, but only costs about $8 – far less than replacement headlights, and without the work of removing and installing them. The kit includes two bottles – the spray lubricant I used on the Focus, and a lens clarifying compound – plus a pair of double sided sanding blocks. There’s also a sealing wipe, which you use at the end of the process to seal the plastic and hopefully prevent this problem from happening again.
The instructions on the box walk you through the restoration process. Spray and wipe on the lubricant, then drop some clarifying compound on each sanding block and use it on the entire surface of the headlight. Each side of the sanding blocks is numbered, and you simply go from 1 through 4, without knowing or caring exactly what grit they are. Use each one in series, wiping off the lens in between. Then open the sealing wipe and wipe the lens with it to seal it from further degradation.
The instructions say to do both lights at the same time, but I did them one at a time except for the sealing wipe to compare the lenses before and after treatment. This one has not been touched yet and looks, to use a technical term, butt ugly.
This is how it looks after the treatment, and I admit not a particularly careful or thorough job of it. But the difference is amazing. It’s not quite as good as new, but it’s certainly not foggy anymore, and should have no problem passing state inspection.
Here’s how they look with the lights turned on. The treated lens is obviously far brighter than the untreated one. This picture, right here, is conclusive evidence to me that this $8 kit works exactly as they claim. It’s easy to use, and it only takes a few minutes to treat each headlight. You don’t need any mechanical or detailing knowledge whatsoever to use it. I suck at detailing, and I did this. Now, rather than spending money on new headlights, I can save up for the Smyth Ute kit.