Many of you have probably at some point noticed someone’s headlights cloudy, meaning that they are faded, yellowed, or old looking. This is actually very common and can start happening to any lenses that are plastic, which is most of them, after years of exposure in direct sunlight.
Many times, it’s possible to restore your headlights to near-factory condition without the hassle of installing a new set. If your headlights appear cloudy, yellowed or hazy, start with a simple car wash. If after the wash your lamps are still looking discolored, it may be time for a restoration.
What Makes Headlights Cloudy?
- Oxidation: Acrylic headlights oxidize when exposed to UV light. Headlight lenses come with a clear topcoat to help prevent this, but eventually, the coating wears off, and sunlight turns the hard plastic yellow.
- Flying debris: Your headlights take a beating from gravel, road salt, and other debris that gets kicked up as you cruise down the road. This wears down the topcoat and creates pits and scratches on your headlights, adding to their cloudy appearance.
- Dirt and chemicals: After several years on the road, a thin layer of dirt and chemicals form on the lenses. This opaque layer dims the beam coming from your headlights.
- Water vapor: Headlights are manufactured with a watertight seal, but wear and tear can cause this seal to break. Condensation then forms inside the lens where you can’t wipe it away. The water droplets scatter the beam of light, further impairing nighttime visibility.
How to Prevent Cloudy Headlights Turning Yellow
- Park your car in the shade: If possible, park in the garage or under a shady tree. If you don’t have that option, face your headlights away from the sun when parking outside to reduce UV exposure and slow the oxidizing process.
- Wash your car: Every three months, wash the headlights with automotive soap to clean away dirt and chemicals that promote fogging.
- Polish the headlights: Use a non-abrasive polishing medium and a microfiber cloth to polish your headlight lenses and remove early signs of yellowing.
Restoration Should Be Done Professionally
Sometimes the best tools and techniques make all the difference, and this is one of those times. You may have read about “home remedies” for headlight polishing, but some of these chemicals harm paint, gaskets and trim components around the headlight.
Many people use insect repellent to restore headlights without realizing that they are damaging the surface of the lens. Unlike polishes, this method chemically melts the headlight lens so that when you polish it with a cloth or paper towel, you’re actually rubbing the molten plastic into a smoother finish. This is very bad. And because the surface of the headlights is chemically softened, it will attract even more particles and impurities, which usually make the finish look dull again within a few days.
Toothpaste polishing is another popular do-it-yourself method. But this type of abrasive is not specified for lens material (which is much softer than tooth enamel). And, it can prematurely wear down the surface, shortening lens life.
Professional Restoration Lasts Longer
Professional restorers finish the job by applying a UV-resistant clear coat on the polished lens. This keeps harmful ultraviolet rays from discoloring the plastic, like sunscreen for headlights. And by using the right products and methods, professional restorers avoid damage to seals, chrome and the lens itself.
Headlight restoration can make a dramatic difference in the appearance and functionality of your headlights.
Restore Your Hazy Headlights with Help from Sudden Impact Auto
Now that you know what makes headlights fog, it’s clear that the best treatment option is professional headlight restoration. Let the team at Sudden Impact Auto restore your headlights to like-new condition. Our results are long-lasting for safer nighttime driving. Contact us today at 702-457-3002 to schedule headlight restoration services.