Tested: Mother’s NuLens Headlight Restoration Kit

Tested: Mother's NuLens Headlight Restoration Kit

by David Zipf

Two things happened to me in the span of a few months.  The first was years of slowly killing myself in College paid off and I finally landed a great engineering job that also happens to be in the automotive industry.  The second was my trusty 1997 Honda CR-V rolled over to 200,000 miles.  Honda engines are dead reliable though: 200,000 miles is a walk in the park for a Honda engine.  Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Honda automatic transmissions and our CR-V hasn't exactly lived the easy life with us. We knew the transmission was on the back end of its life.  Deciding a newer car would make much more sense than replacing the transmission in a 17 year old Honda, I decided to jump into the used car market.  I spent weeks searching for the perfect vehicle and I ended up with one of my dream cars: a 2001 Isuzu Vehicross.  Why I wanted one of these so badly is another story for another day (spend a few minutes reading about them.  We can wait).  This particular Vehicross was mechanically solid, but cosmetically unloved.  Many people had been turned away by its worn leather interior, faded plastic body cladding, and peeling hood.  Not me: after taking a test drive I knew I had to have it.  With Vehicrosses being reasonably rare (less than 4000 were imported to the USA and only a few hundred were the Ironman Edition I ended up with) and having fallen in love with the funky trucklet, I decided I needed to bring this Vehicross back to its former glory, starting with the exterior.

 

Not the worst used car purchase ever, but there s definitely room for improvement.  Even with this somewhat crummy cellphone pic, you can see the hazing and fading on our Vehicross's headlights. 

We'll tackle the paint, plastic, and leather later on, but restoring headlights should be fairly easy.  These days when you walk down your local parts store's body care aisle you'll see a dozen different headlight cleaners.  I've used headlight cleaning kits before with very mixed results.  In fact the last kit I used made no difference at all to my headlights, even after an hour of polishing.  Worse yet, a year later the lights looked even worse than before.  So I was skeptical about how well the Mother's kit would work.  The Vehicross's lights weren't terrible, but the hazing was noticeable and ruined the look of the nose.  The Mother's kit was on sale at my local parts store and I decided “Why the hell not?”  It had been a few years since I had tried one of these kits; maybe headlight cleaning technology had improved.

 

The Mothers kit comes in this simple box.  You will need to provide a power drill, a spray bottle with water, and “a clean, microfiber cloth.”  Glass cleaner and paper towels would do the job for this project.
Inside the box, you get a bottle of plastic polish, a drill chuck with a Velcro pad on it, the Power Ball polisher, and a few different grits of sanding pads.  The grits range from 300 to 1500.  If your lights are really bad and are pitted, you will need to use the coarse grit pads first.  Since ours were only hazed, we started with the 1500 grit pad.
We started with the 1500 grit pad, using our glass cleaner to wet the headlight.  The glass cleaner foamed up as we sanded, but it did the job, preventing us from accidentally scoring our lenses as we sanded the haze off.  If you still have nice paint, you should probably use some painter's tape on your fenders and bumper to prevent the sanding pad from scratching the surrounding paint.  Fortunately the Vehicross has a nice unpainted plastic bumper we don't need to mask!  And the fenders need a respray anyway, so who really cares if the edges have a little swirling.  By putting our drill on low and not moving too quickly, we never strayed off the lens anyway.
Once we wiped off the suds, the difference was already noticeable.  It's not perfect, but it's definitely better than what we started with.

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