Let’s talk about something we hate to see on other cars and our own cars — foggy headlights.
Your vehicle’s headlights make driving at night, rain, and snow easier. But, not if they are foggy and dull. And even if you are washing your car regularly, you can’t keep your headlights as shiny and bright as they were when you drove off the car lot.
Why is that?
Causes of Foggy Headlights
Dirt and Grime
Sure, you may wash your car weekly, but you can’t stop the build-up. Over time, your vehicle and headlamps encounter dirt, salt, grime, and other road debris (it’s an inevitable part of being on the road). These things slowly eat away the top coat of your headlamps and cause scratching, which adds to the hazy headlight appearance.
Cleaning your vehicle regularly is an excellent start as removing any salt or chemicals as soon as possible minimizes their impact on your top-coat. Occasionally restoring the top coat of your car’s headlights is a great routine to get into. When you wax your car’s paint, go ahead and use a store-bought top-coat restoration (or a household product replacement) as well on your headlights.
UV Light Damage
Especially in the great State of Texas, we are used to seeing the sun and feeling its rays. While we can hide out from the sun or wear sunscreen, your headlamps are left to roast.
Over time, the sun’s UV light turns the hard plastic of your headlamps yellow as the plastic oxidizes under the UV rays. This is especially prevalent in acrylic headlights.
Park in the shade or a garage when possible. And protect your top-coat with regular washes and restoration. While it’s hard to avoid the sun, a little help can go a long way.
Water Vapor Damage
Vehicle headlights come with a watertight seal when they leave the factory. But if you’ve learned anything from our articles on belts and hoses and other rubber car parts, seals wear and rip over time from normal driving conditions.
Once that seal has been breached, condensation forms inside of the plastic of your headlights. This water collection refracts the light, making it harder for you to see in the dark.
Keep an eye on the seal around your headlight. When you notice signs of wear and tear, get it replaced.
Restoring Foggy Headlights
Getting your headlights back to their bright selves goes beyond cleaning. It requires restoring them of the UV damage.
Luckily, restoration is easy. And if you don’t want to spend money on cleaning kits, you probably already have a few household items that go a long way.
Step 1 – Clean and Dry
Before you do any restoring, you need a clean and dry surface to start. Use a mild cleaner to remove any dirt, bugs, salt, and grime that has accumulated on your headlamp. After rinsing, use a dry towel to remove all moisture.
Step 2 – Restore
Grab your restorative agent and get to work. Items that work to restore foggy headlamps include:
- Headlight Restoration Kits – found at your local auto store or Amazon
- Toothpaste – we hope you already have this in your home
- Baking Soda – mixed with water to make a paste
Take whichever item you choose and gently rub it into your headlight. Once the headlamp has a nice coating, leave the agent on for a few minutes to dry.
Step 3 – Clean Up
Using gentle pressure and circular motions, use a brush to work the dried restorative agent off your headlight. Remember that whatever you use is already abrasive, so use a gentle hand as not to scratch the headlight.
Use a clean towel to wipe away any residual cleaner. For stubborn spots, use a little water and then polish dry.
Shine Bright on the Road
With it getting darker earlier and Christmas travel on the horizon, you’ll want to make sure you can see after dark. For those with foggy headlights, driving at night becomes more difficult and dangerous.
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