If your Ford had a Matthew McConaughey, it would be a Lincoln

Weekend Project: Headlight Restoration

This weekend all my friends were away so I figured that this would be a good project to keep me busy. The car is my 2005 Toyota Corolla Le. I did this process last year but stopped after polishing and applying a UV coating. I reapplied the coating but less than a year later they had faded over again. I did some online research and some people had good results with using clear coat after going through my previous process. They claim it lasts much longer with the clear coat so I figured I would give it another go.


This was the before from a few months ago (I forgot to take a before shot yesterday).

The Process

Step 1: Disassembly 

In order to remove the headlights I had to remove the bumper.

Step 2: Sanding

I started the sanding process by wet sanding with 800 grit sandpaper. Then I moved to 1500 grit and then dry sanded with 3000. All of this was done with a drill attachment.


Step 3: Polishing

I used polishing formula and and a polishing wheel to polish out the haze from sanding.


Step 4: Clearcoat

I used a UV resistant clear coat to coat the lens.


Step 5: Wet Sanding the Clear Coat

I hand wet sanded with 800 and 2000 and then dry sanded with 3000 grit paper.

Step 6: Polish

I used polishing compound and the polishing drill attachment to polish out the clear coat.


Step 7: Seal

I used an automotive sealant on top of the clear coat to protect it and try to make it last longer. It claims to last a year but I will try to reapply it every month since it only takes a couple of minutes.


Step 9: Reassembly



Step 10: Put everything away

The jobs not done until everything is put away.

Step 11: Admire


Overall, I think this went very well. Time will tell if it lasts longer than my previous attempt. I think it takes some years off the appearance of my car. I think I put about 6-8 hours in it but could have done it much faster if I wasn’t taking my time. It definitely helped me feel more productive and distracted me from my mental health issues.

Total costs: $38

$15 for the headlight restoration kit (sandpaper disks, drill attachment, polishing formula, polishing drill attachment)


$6 for the coat

$17 for the paint sealant (large bottle and will get many uses of of it)

Overall, I think this isn’t too bad. It really depends on how long it lasts. It is a lot cheaper than buying new headlights. Even buying non-Toyota housings looked like $80 at the cheapest and around $120 for quality non-OEM.


Other Repairs

I also repaired my bumper where it split with two pieces of aluminum and some rivets. Also I got the bumper to fit evenly by pushing out a dent on the passenger front fender. Finally I did a temporary fix on the broken driver front wheel well liner by zip-tying what was left and cutting away any sections that would rub on the tire (I had zip-tied these sections away from the tire before). Next weekend I will be installing a new gauge cluster cover as the current one is pitted and scratched up pretty badly and is hard to read.

It’s worse in the daylight.

Thanks for reading! Please comment with questions, suggestions and thoughts.

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