Have you noticed that your nighttime driving visibility has declined lately? It could be that your headlight lenses have become hazy, and the beam from the bright bulb is obscured to some degree. Severely foggy headlights can reduce visibility by up to 50 percent, so this is obviously a safety hazard. On top of this, hazy headlights are an eyesore. Learn what causes this phenomenon, how to prevent it, and most importantly, how to restore your hazy headlights.
What Causes Hazy Headlights?
If you’re wondering why headlights turn cloudy in the first place, remember, they take a beating on the road every day. Here’s what causes hazy headlights:
- Oxidation from sunlight exposure: Headlight lenses are made of acrylic, which oxidizes and turns yellow after prolonged exposure to UV rays. A clear top coat helps with this, but over time, the coating wears away, and oxidation becomes inevitable.
- Pits and scratches from flying debris: With their position on the front of your car, headlights take the brunt of gravel, sand, road salt, and other debris that goes flying as you drive down the road. This creates pits and scratches on the lenses and wears down the top coat for a hazy appearance.
- Dirt and chemicals from the road: A layer of dirt and chemicals can build up on your headlights over time, dimming the beam and obscuring nighttime visibility.
How to Prevent Hazy Headlights
It’s difficult to prevent hazy headlights completely, but you can at least slow the process down with these tips:
- Clean the headlights: Once a week, remove dust and road salt from your headlights with a soft rag and water.
- Apply a plastic sealant: Car wax or automotive sealant on your headlights is effective for keeping UV and abrasion damage down. Apply this coating once a month.
- Protect the lenses: If you use a stripping agent on other areas of your car, cover the headlights to protect the top coat.
- Park in the shade: Because UV exposure is a major cause of hazy headlights, park in the garage or under a shady tree whenever possible.
At-Home Treatments for Hazy Headlights
When foggy lenses begin to obstruct your nighttime visibility, it’s time to treat the headlights. If you’re in a pinch, try these at-home techniques to remove the haze from your headlights. Just remember, the results will only last about a month.
- Buff with toothpaste: You’ve probably heard that toothpaste makes a good headlight polish. While it’s not a complete waste of time, buffing with toothpaste only removes the smallest amount of pits and scratches. You need a stronger solution for longer-lasting results.
- Baking soda paste: Combine 5 tablespoons of baking soda and a bit of water to form a paste. Apply generously to each lens using a sponge, and polish in small circular motions. Rinse with water to reveal the results.
- Vinegar bath: Remove the lenses and soak them in a bucket of vinegar for an hour. Buff the lenses with a rough sponge and admire the results. Reinstall the lenses when you’re done.
- Use a DIY headlight polishing kit: Auto parts stores stock these kits, but you should only attempt to use one if you have experience with auto body work and the buffing process. Otherwise, you could wear a spot into the lens that you can’t work out again without damaging the lens further.
Professional Headlight Restoration
For the best results, seek professional headlight restoration. This involves many of the same steps as required by a DIY polishing kit, but a technician with experience and training makes all the difference. Repairs with a power sander and buffer can remove haziness from headlights in just a few minutes. Then, an application of professional plastic sealant ensures your headlights won’t become foggy again for many months to come.
As an added bonus, taking your car to a shop for headlight repair gives you the chance to check for condensation inside the lens. This indicates a leaky seal, which requires prompt repair to prevent the bulb from burning out.
Visit Scott’s for Auto Repair Services
As an auto repair and maintenance specialist in Fort Collins, you can trust Scott’s Automotive to restore your headlight lenses for professional, long-lasting results. To schedule headlight services or maintenance for other parts of your car, stop in today. You can also schedule an appointment with us online or call ahead at (970) 682-4202.