How To Repair a Scratched Plastic Headlight or Tail Light Lens

01
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The Headlight Restorer and Defogger Pack

Scratch repair for plastic.
The Scratch Repair Kit. photo by Adam Wright, 2008

When we found this shiny foil package at Wal-Mart, eyes rolled. It was too small, too silly, and we figured it was too good to be true. The CV Headlight Restorer and Defogger claims to be able to remove scratches and haziness from plastic lenses using only the stuff that's in the fruit roll-up bag.

Of course we couldn't leave it at just doubt, so we bought a couple and put them to the test. What we found surprised us. It worked. We were able to polish not only a scratched headlight lens, but also the plexi rear window from a 1958 Porsche Speedster. That was extra impressive. It wasn't perfect on the really bad spots, but it was pretty amazing.

Read on to see how it works, pretty fun!

02
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The Subject: Removable Hardtop for 1958 Porsche Speedster

Scratch repair on this plastic window.
Can we remove the scratches from this window?. photo by Adam Wright, 2008

After we successfully cleaned up a foggy headlight with this product, we wanted to give it a real workout. At the shop we had a '58 Porsche Speedster with a removable hardtop. The rear window is plexi (hard plastic) and was severely scratched up after 50 years of high speed touring (and storage). The window had hazing, light scratches and few deep gouges -- the perfect test platform.

03
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Scratch Repair Kit: What's In The Bag

The scratch repair kit comes complete to perform all steps in the removal process. There is a stack of abrasive cloths, two different rubbing and polishing compounds, and even a rubber glove to keep your rosy palms nice and soft. There's only one, so you get to be Michael for a day. All in all it's a very complete kit in a nice compact package. They give you enough of each item to be

sure

you get the job done. There's nothing worse than working your way through one of these kits only to realize the job's half done but you're out of stuff.

04
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Using the First Compund to Rough-Smooth the Scratched Surface

Remove the large scratches first.
Use CV1 to start the process of scratch repair. photo by Adam Wright, 2008

The first thing to do is fully clean your plastic part. Even a single grain of sand can not only make all of your efforts pointless but make the situation much, much worse. Once you've cleaned it up, take the first emory paper and the first compound (don't worry they're clearly labeled) and start to work your surface, rubbing in a circular motion. You don't need to put tons of pressure on it, let the compound do the work slowly and you'll get a better result. Continue to rub with CV1 until you've rubbed away the large scratches.

The compound will severely fog the surface, this is ok.

05
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Moving to the Second Stage of Your Scratch Repair

CV2 removes fine scratches and polishes the plastic.
Switch to the 2nd compound for fine scratch removal. photo by Adam Wright, 2008

Now you've got what looks like a really screwed up piece of plastic. It's fogged and covered in tiny scratches that you put there. No problem, things have to get just a little bit worse to get better.

Apply enough CV2 to cover the repair area lightly. Rub the surface the same way as before -- circular motion, not too hard. You'll start to see the scratches go away, keep rubbing. At this point you're actually polishing the plastic surface. If you think you're done, wipe the area with a clean cloth. If there are still small scratches, reapply the rubbing compound and rub some more.

06
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The Finished Product: A Clear Rear Window

Removing scratches is not too hard.
The finished window, almost scratch free. photo by Adam Wright, 2008

Here it is! Fifty years of abose wiped away in less than an hour. We were able to polish out almost all of the scratches on the surface of this rear window. It's by no means perfect, there were some pretty good gouges in there. But the difference is like night and day. Try this out on something a little more modern like a scratched plastic headlight or tail light cover and you're likely to see some seriously impressive results. I know we were surprised, now you don't have to be.