Best clear coat for headlights

In this guide, we’ll be taking a look at the best clear coats to use on your headlights to get that nice glossy finish.

We tried out dozens of options before deciding on the Top 3 for their performance, ease of use, special features, and the final look.

Our experience detailing cars allows us to make an informed decision on which brands to trust. We weighed our decisions based on chemical composition, the post-application look, and also any benefits for your headlights.

Meguiar’s Keep Clear stood out from the bunch, offering superior shine and gloss, while also protecting our headlights from scratches.

Read on to find our top picks for headlight clear coats.

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Meguiar’s keep clear headlight clear coat

Overall Best

Meguiar’s makes some of our favorite car detailing products, including headlight clear coats. 

The Keep Clear headlight clear coat can be used to refurbish hazy, yellow-ed headlights, or add a layer of protection to new headlights, thus preventing tarnishing over time.

For consumer use, this headlight clear coat is the best overall. We tried it while refurbishing our old headlights and the result was a clear, glossy finish that improved the look of our car as a whole.

Our testing showed that this clear coat retains its shine and gloss over time, so you will have that clear, glossy look for months (if not years) to come. As a side benefit, Meguiar uses specific compounds that add UV protection as well, ideal for cars that are usually parked outside. 

UV protection ensures your headlights don’t yellow when exposed to sunlight for long periods.

This clear coat is ideal for use on new headlights as well. It adds a protective layer, which is resistant to wear and mitigates micro scratches that ultimately ruin the look of your headlights.

While some clear coats are a pain to apply, Meguiar’s comes in an easy to use aerosol can, meaning you don’t need to be a professional detailer to get the best results. Included instructions are also appreciated, helping get the best clear coat application without errors.

Pros
  • Glossy finish
  • UV protection
  • Provides scratch resistance
  • Ideal for restoring old headlights
  • Resists yellowing
  • Protects new headlights
  • Easy to apply aerosol form
Cons
  • May require re-application after a year

3M Quick Headlight Clear Coat

Best Budget

To get a clear coat on a budget, check out 3M’s Quick Headlight Clear Coat. This option delivers a simple, glossy clear coat that works well on plastic headlight lenses. 

The package comes with all the things you need to do a decent clear coat at home, hassle free.

3M’s kit is specifically made for use on car headlights and includes masking tape, light sanding discs, and a protectant wax, offering great value and utility. These are items you would have had to buy anyway, so we appreciate 3M including them with the clear coat.

This particular compound is designed to handle light blurriness and surface degradation. It works well in a pinch for headlights that are slightly worn, but for headlights that have experienced heavy yellowing and haziness, 3M’s compound is a bit out of its depth. For this price though, there are few clear coats that work this well.

All that aside, this is a great option for those of you looking to protect your new car’s headlights without breaking the bank. The final finish is glossy enough to spruce up your headlights and give them a more aesthetic look.

Pros
  • Easy to apply
  • Glossy finish
  • Budget friendly
  • Package includes all necessary items
  • Ideal for headlights on newer cars
  • Works best with plastic lenses
  • Adds abrasion resistance
  • Prevents micro scratches
Cons
  • Not ideal for heavy blurring
  • Not the longest lasting compound

USC SprayMax 2K high gloss clear coat

Premium Choice

If not for the higher cost, USC’s SprayMax 2K would undoubtedly have been our top choice for the bet car headlight clear coat. This is a glossy, all-purpose clear coat that adds ALL the sparkle and shine to your headlights. 

It is fairly easy to use and delivers added protection and abrasion resistance to your headlights.

This clear coat is also longer lasting than most others. While our testing yielded short term results, most users report the SprayMax clear coat regularly lasts them more than a year for each application. During that time, it maintains a thick layer of compound that looks great and protects your headlights.

Using the SprayMax on our old headlights, the difference in shine was night and day. After clearing the headlights, we applied even coatings of this aerosol style clear coat, and got the shiniest, most reflective finish of any clear coat we tested. 

Not only does this finish have a great look, it holds up much better to scratches and road debris, thereby protecting your headlights from abrasive particles that could ruin them over time.

Higher quality clear coats can be a bit finicky to use for folks with little to no experience working with them. Thicker compounds like the SprayMax, if applied improperly can result in an orange peel effect where the compound starts to accumulate in certain spots and peel off in patches. 

However, in our testing, the aerosol was easy to apply evenly and accurately. So you get the gloss of multiple coats, without the mess of an uneven application. We also found this cleat coat in particular worked well with the best headlight bulbs.

Finally, a quick tip for using this clear coat: definitely use protection (masks, goggles, gloves, etc) while handling and using the SprayMax. It is a very potent compound and gives off significant vapors that could be harmful. Open air application is recommended.

Pros
  • Glossiest finish
  • Adds abrasion resistance
  • Great for protecting new headlights
  • Works well for restoring headlights
  • Multi-purpose, works for most surfaces
Cons
  • Can be quite expensive
  • Strong, harmful vapor necessitates masks and open air use


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Author

Richard Nickleson is the author and owner behind Headlight Reviews. He first started the site as a hobby to share his insights on car parts and specifically headlight bulbs, but it soon ballooned and now he writes on all topics surrounding headlights bulbs. If you've got a bulb question, contact Richard here.

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