How to Smoke Headlights: Step by Step Guide Including Prep

Learning how to smoke headlights properly is necessary because this can be a frustrating job if this is your first experience doing it. If you want to give your truck or car a unique look, smoking your headlights is a great way to do it.

How to Smoke Headlights

With this complete guide, we will walk you through the entire process of how to smoke headlight bulbs. The following paragraphs will detail everything you need to know, from what materials you’ll need to how to prepare your vehicle and the actual smoking procedure so that you can get the desired results quickly!

How Do You Smoke a Vehicle’s Headlights?

You can smoke a vehicle’s headlights by first preparing the car. Then apply the base coat, black coat, and clear coat one after the other, letting the previous skin dry first. Once you have buffed and polished them, you need to clean everything and be done.

1. Applying the Base Coat

The primary step is to apply a light coat of high-temperature clear coat spray paint to the surface of your headlights. Cover the entire surface, but only spray a little paint at a time. A light coat will ensure a smooth and even finish.

After applying the base coat level, let it dry for 15-20 minutes. This will allow the paint time to set and ensure the final coat adheres correctly. Avoid touching the headlights while they dry, which could cause the paint to smudge or chip.

2. Applying the Black Coat

After you are sure that the base coat is dry, you can apply a light coat of high-temperature black spray paint to the surface of your headlights. That being said, it is imperative to cover the entire surface evenly.

Applying Black Coat on Headlights

Don’t worry too much about the streaks or unevenness at this stage, as this will be corrected in the next step. Let the paint dry for about 15-20 minutes. Avoid touching the headlights while they dry, which could cause the color to smudge or chip.

3. Applying the Clear Coat

Once the black coat is dry, apply a light coat of clear coat spray to the surface of your headlights. This will protect the black coat and create a glossy finish. Make sure to properly cover the entire surface of your headlights evenly.

Apply two to three coats of clear paint coat, letting each coat dry for about 15-20 minutes before applying the next. This will ensure that the protective layer is thick enough to protect your headlights adequately.

4. Buffing and Polishing

After the final clear coat has dried, it’s time to buff the headlights’ surface to achieve a smooth and polished finish. Before starting the buffing process, ensure the whole surface is completely dry and totally free of dust or debris.

Take a soft, clean buffing pad and apply a small polishing compound. Use the pad to gently buff the surface of your headlights in a circular motion. Keep it moving continuously to avoid creating any swirls or scratches on the surface.

Buffing and Polishing Car Headlights

Continue buffing until the surface becomes smooth and shiny and all imperfections and streaks have been removed. Take your time and work slowly, as rushing through this step can result in a subpar finish. Once satisfied with the result, clean the surface with a soft and dry cloth to remove any excess polishing compound.

5. Cleaning

After smoking your headlights, it’s essential to carefully remove the plastic sheeting and painter’s tape. Check the edges of the tape to ensure that no paint has seeped underneath, as this can cause an uneven finish.

Cleaning Car Headlights

If you find any areas with overspray or residue on your vehicle, use rubbing alcohol and a cloth to remove them gently.

6. Finishing Up

Now that you have completed the process, take a step back and admire your work. Your vehicle should now have a sleek and modern look with smoked headlights. The procedure might take some time, but the result is worth it. Also, make sure to carefully follow the safety precautions and read the instructions label carefully before you start smoking your headlights.

Remember, smoking headlights is not only about looks. It also enhances visibility while driving at night, making navigating through poorly lit areas safer. So not only have you transformed the appearance of your vehicle, but you have also made it more practical and functional.

How Can You Prepare Your Vehicle Headlights for Smoking?

You can prepare your vehicle headlights for smoking by getting all the necessary equipment. After that, you must clean the headlights properly before you tape them to mask off the inaccessible areas. Ensure you have thoroughly protected the rest of the car with plastic sheeting, and sand the headlights.

1. Preparing the Equipment You Will need

To smoke your headlights, you’ll need to gather a few supplies. Having all the necessary materials is essential before you start the process. You will need sandpaper (2000 grit) to smooth out the surface of your headlights, soap, and water, and a dry cloth to dry the headlights after cleaning.

You will also need painter’s tape, plastic sheeting to protect surrounding areas from overspray, high-temperature clear coat spray paint, black spray paint to darken the headlights, and clearcoat spray to add a glossy finish.

You can find these supplies at most automotive stores or online. It’s essential to use high-temperature paint to ensure that it can withstand the extreme heat generated by your vehicle’s headlights. Once you’ve collected all the supplies, you can start preparing your car for smoking.

2. Cleaning the Headlights

The primary step is to clean your headlights thoroughly. Dirt, grime, or debris can interfere with smoking, and the paint won’t adhere properly. Use soap and water to remove any buildup on the headlights, then dry them with a clean cloth.

3. Masking Off

Next, use painter’s tape to mask any areas you don’t want to be painted. This includes the surrounding bodywork, turn signals, or any other places you want to protect. Doing this will prevent overspray and ensure that the paint only goes to the area where you want it to.

4. Protecting Your Vehicle

Cover the rest of your car with plastic sheeting to prevent overspray from reaching other parts of your vehicle. This will ensure that no paint splatters get on your car’s paint or other parts of the vehicle. Secure the plastic sheeting with painter’s tape to prevent it from moving around during the painting process.

5. Sanding Your Headlights

The final step before starting the smoking process is to sand the surface of your headlights with 2000-grit sandpaper lightly. This will help the paint stick more and create a smoother finish.

Sanding Car Headlights

Be careful and don’t rub too harshly since that will damage the headlight’s surface. Once you’ve sanded them, wipe them down with a clean cloth and good rubbing alcohol to remove any remaining debris or oils.

Can Smoking Headlights Help Prevent Moisture Build-up?

Smoking headlights can be a unique way to remove moisture from car headlights. By carefully and safely heating the headlights using specialized equipment, the smoke that is produced can help in evaporating the moisture trapped inside. This method can be effective in preventing moisture build-up, ensuring optimal visibility while driving.


Smoking your vehicle’s headlights is an excellent way to customize your car’s appearance and give it a personalized touch, and with suitable materials and preparation, anyone can achieve professional-looking results. By following our step-by-step guide, you will now be able to greatly transform

the look of your car or truck and make it unique:

  • To prepare your car for smoking, gather the proper equipment, clean and sand the headlights, mask off the areas, and protect the vehicle with plastic sheeting.
  • To smoke the headlights, apply the base, black, and clear coats, then buff and polish them for a smooth and glossy finish.
  • Finally, clean the area and remove the masking tape and plastic sheeting.

We are confident that this guide has been helpful and comprehensive for you and that you feel confident in taking on this project. Take your time and follow all given safety precautions to ensure a successful outcome, and you will get your desired results without further hassle!

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