In the past, RV headlights were made of glass, but as the shape of RVs and vehicles became more complex, malleable plastic and polycarbonate were the cheaper, lighter alternative. However, plastic headlights oxidize and turn yellow from salt, UV rays and debris, which reduces light output.
Thinking the problem is on the inside of the lens, many owners waste money replacing headlights that can cost up to $500. Most of the time, the haze is on the outside and easy to fix.
Before cleaning, headlights should be checked for moisture and cracked parts. If there’s moisture inside the lens, there may be a leak in the assembly, so cleaning the outside will do little to improve clarity. Drilling a pin hole in the lens lets moisture evaporate.
Cleaning the lens’ outer surface can be completed in 30 minutes with the following materials: Shurhold Dual Action Polisher, wool polishing pad, one-inch paint brush, Shurhold Buff Magic, a microfiber towel, painter’s tape, car-wash soap, sponge and an extension cord.
The restoration process involves grinding away a very thin layer of plastic. Be sure to use a buffing compound that is the correct grit. If too coarse, it can remove too much of the plastic and leave scratches.
Owners should park the RV or vehicle in the shade because direct sunlight causes water and other materials to dry too fast. It’s also important to start with clean headlights, as any dirt or debris may cause scratches when using the polisher. Headlights can be washed with car-wash soap and a sponge, then dried with a microfiber towel.
Then, painter’s tape should be used to tape off the edges of the headlights. A paint brush can be used to apply a thin layer of Buff Magic to the entire headlight. This compound shouldn’t be left to dry.
On medium speed, the compound should be buffed into the headlight for two or three minutes in an up-and-down motion, followed by a left-to-right motion. It’s important to alternate motions so the compound gets as much of the cloudy surface off as possible. The polisher should always be moving.
After the headlights are dry, owners can inspect the headlights. If there is still a haze, the process can be repeated three or four times.
Once the desired results are achieved, owners can then remove the painter’s tape and wash the headlights again to ensure all debris has been removed. The headlights should be back to crystal-clear for optimum light.
Shurhold’s Buff Magic is scientifically formulated with jeweler’s rouge to be a multi-purpose buffing and polishing cream. With each pass, the gentle abrasives break down, creating a compound that easily removes a clouded or scratched surface. A 22 oz. can costs $28.98.
Shurhold is dedicated to educating owners on RV value preservation. Inventor of the One Handle Does It All system, Shurhold manufactures specialty care items and accessories to clean, polish and detail.
Contact Shurhold, 3119 SW 42nd Ave., Palm City, FL 34990. 800-962-6241; Fax: 772-286-9620. www.shurhold.com/rv