Foggy headlights are a problem that has arisen in the past couple of decades, as we have moved away from glass sealed beam bulbs and into an era of plastic lenses with bulbs inside. While modern headlights are superior to the sealed beam headlights of years ago, they do tend to fog up after years of use. It’s a good trade for far better illumination and easier replacement, but an issue nonetheless. Hours and hours of heat, sunlight, and age eventually cause them to cloud up, which can reduce visibility at night in addition to worsening the appearance of your car, truck, or SUV. From Frank May Garage in Akron, OH, here are some tips on taking care of your foggy or cloudy headlight issue.
Do internet remedies work? - First, let's start by addressing “hacks” you’ve likely seen online to restore your headlights. For years, videos have circulated of people bringing their headlights back to life with household items like toothpaste, peanut butter, bug spray, and so on. But does it work? Actually, yes - toothpaste and peanut butter, for example, are somewhat abrasive. They essentially act as a polish that clears up the plastic and remedies your foggy headlight problem. Bug spray from an aerosol can has a different effect; it “melts” the plastic in a way, removing some of the oxidation, in addition to filling small imperfections in the lens. The bug spray trick often yields exciting results, but they, unfortunately, don’t last long. You might be thinking “If it just comes down to polishing or removal of oxidation, isn’t there a better way to do it?” The answer is yes, there are better ways to clear foggy headlights...but they aren’t as flashy as a video of getting it done with toothpaste.
What are the best ways to clear foggy headlights?
Headlight restoration kits: Auto parts stores and places like Walmart often have kits with specifically formulated products to remove the damaged material, then buff and polish damaged lenses. Typically these kits include one or more types of chemical agents, an abrasive material for doing the work, and some type of cloth to finish the job.
Buffing and waxing: You can use a polishing compound and wax to restore cloudy or foggy headlights, the same stuff you use to wax your car. It works better with a buffer, but this method can be done by hand as well.
Sandpaper: The sandpaper method should be used with caution - if you don’t do it right, you could mess the headlights up worse, whereas the other two methods will really only make it better no matter how much you botch the job. Depending on how bad the fogging is, you can use medium grit sandpaper and then keep stepping up to higher grit sandpaper until you’ve removed all the oxidation and have polished the lens. This is very effective, but take some skill and patience to get it right
Should I just replace the headlights? - Replacing cloudy or foggy headlights is always an option, and maybe the best one. The only way to ensure they will look brand new again is by replacing them entirely, as it isn’t much you can do for lenses that have passed a certain point, and there’s not much you can do about the condition of the inside of the lens. Whether or not it’s worth it depends on a variety of factors; how difficult the replacement is, how much new assemblies cost, how much the car is worth, and how much you care what it looks like.
Of course, if all of this sounds too complicated or like something you’d rather not attempt, feel free to stop by or give us a call. It’s hard to beat a professional touch, and our technicians can make a recommendation toward what would be in your best interest. Whatever route you choose, you’ll be glad you got rid of those foggy and clouded headlights - the increase in visibility you gain makes driving at night a lot easier, and it’s much less dangerous. At Frank May Garage, we’ve got you covered, no matter your repair or maintenance needs. For the best auto service and repair shop in Akron, OH, call or stop by today.
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