Headlamp restoration

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I hate plastic headlamps.

Mind you, I’m delighted with the output and beam pattern of most modern headlamp* assemblies, which are as far ahead of sealed-beam technology as sealed beams were ahead of acetylene. But plastic is plastic, and while you might argue that polymer headlamp lenses are more resistant to stone chips than glass lenses, they eventually will discolor, renedering them semi-opaque and compromising their otherwise excellent performance—and also making them look like crap.

Our 2002 Tacoma Prerunner’s lamps were already well into the jaundiced phase when we took it over from my brother, and I recently decided to do something about it. So I went to the Griot’s Garage site.

I remember the early days of Griot’s, when most of their offerings were exotic and superb tools not available at Sears. My first exposure to Facom and USAG tools were through Griot’s. However, as time went on, Richard Griot (pronounced gree-oh) obviously discovered that the real money was in boutique car-care products such as cleaners, waxes, polishers, clay bars, and a myriad of accessories down to the level of oversize Q-tips for cleaning those pesky crevices in your alloy wheels. Only a few token mechanic’s tools remain among the latest offerings, but you can choose from among no fewer than five power buffers.

Still, any product I’ve bought from Griot’s has been first rate, so I ordered their headlamp restoration kit and set out one afternoon to see how it worked.

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And it did, excellently. The entire process—masking the surrpunding trim, wet-sanding the headlamp lenses until the slurry turned from yellow to white, drying them off and prepping with an alcohol pad, and spraying on the new coating—took less than 30 minutes, and it was satisfying to watch the lenses, alarmingly cloudy-white from the wet sanding, turn sparklingly clear under the coating (said to be good for 24 months).

Was it worth $29.95? In terms of sheer results and ease of application, sure. Yet I found myself bemused by the contents of the box, which totalled:

One two-sided sanding pad, helpfully labelled “driver side” and “passenger side”

A couple of lint-free paper towels

Three alcohol prep pads

One 1.5-ounce spray can of the magic coating, good for exactly one set of headlamps

Coating aside, it would be stretching it to claim there was a dollar’s worth of material in the box. That leaves twenty nine bucks for an ounce and a half of coating. It works, but I suspect Griot’s is printing money on this kit.

*As an aside, technically the correct term for the device that lights the road in front of your vehicle is headlamp, not headlight. 

Griot's Garage is here.