One of the most pleasing things about buying a new car is that the headlights shine so brightly. However, over the years, bright headlights might seem dull. Driving down the highway might not be very problematic as you have other cars around you.
However, driving on lonely or rural roads can be dangerous if your headlights are dull or if you have problems seeing at night.
Many people solve this problem by purchasing new headlight bulbs. Although these new bulbs might be bright at first, they often seem strangely dim within a few weeks. This common scenario results from the fact that the dimness results from the headlight covers.
Headlight covers are initially clear. Over time, however, they become cloudy and less translucent, blocking out much of the light emitted from the bulbs. The fix can involve a little so-called elbow grease, and you will find that when you are finished, you can drive safely at any time of the night.
1. High-pressure wash
The first solution is to wash your car, paying very close attention to the headlight covers. You should spray them with high-pressure and make sure to remove all bug residue or dirt. Usually, the high-pressure wash will make the lights seem much brighter. However, in some instances, you will be able to detect a significant amount of dullness that remains on the headlight cover.
2. DIY chemicals
Two of the best home-use chemicals include toothpaste and sodium bicarbonate. Armed with a rough sponge and either of these chemicals, you will be able to remove small scratches in the plastic headlight dome.
Although you might not think either chemical will do much more than clean away dirt, the result can be very dramatic, resulting in a better light than that provided by a high-pressure wash.
If driving is war, your headlights are on the front line. As such, they receive the brunt of damage caused by debris, bugs, and UV rays. This ongoing damage eventually clouds the surface of the headlight dome, obstructing light from the bulb. This process is often called oxidation or normal wear and tear.
You can purchase a deoxidizer, which will contain some sort of abrasive solvent. This solvent will eat away at the rough parts of the headlight dome and leave behind a smoother surface. The smooth surface is important because a rough surface scatters the light, softening it and making it less focused.
Whenever you are having a mobile pre-purchase inspection conducted, you should ensure that the headlights are inspected to determine if they are clear, cloudy, or pitted.
4. Commercial kits
Commercial kits contain all the chemicals, sponges, and cloths you need to restore your headlights to something approaching brand new. Furthermore, such kits will often provide you enough supplies for at least several cleanings, which might be necessary if you drive often. When purchasing a commercial kit, you will want to purchase one with the following components.
- abrasive cleaner
- cotton swabs
- 400-grit sandpaper
- masking tape
- microfiber towels
The first thing to do is to mask off the paint from the headlight by applying the masking tape along the edges where the car frame meets the headlight.
Using the 400-grit sandpaper, you should gently sand the headlight, blowing away any debris that builds up. The 400-grit sandpaper will grind away rough edges, and the scratches left behind will be too fine to see by the human eye.
In order to get in the grooves or edges of your headlight, you can fold the paper into a tightwad and rub back and forth until the surface of the headlight is less cloudy.
Once you are done sanding, the headlight will be nearly clear. However, it will still have tiny scratches left by the sandpaper. To get rid of these, you will want to use a buffing pad to buff the headlight by hand.
Doing so will soften and eventually remove the tiny scratches. What will remain is a clear, smooth surface that will allow light to pass through without being diffused.
Whenever you fix your headlights, you will want to initially work in a well-lit garage that provides protection from the sun.
If you work in an area that is too bright, you will not be able to see the cloudiness in the headlight cover. However, once you have finished, you will want to move your vehicle back and forth between shade and bright light, looking for any sign of cloudiness or pits.