Are your headlights not as bright as they once were? Do you have trouble driving at night because your headlights are so dim? It may not actually be a problem with the bulb or faulty wiring, it may just be that your headlights have gotten foggy.
Headlights become foggy when the outer plastic layer, which is made from polycarbonates, geta thin cloudy layer on top of it (where the UV protection sealant is). This happens because constant exposure to UV light causes an oxidization effect.In some cases, the plastic even appears to be yellowish, lessening the overall brightness of the headlight.
Travelling at night with foggy headlights is dangerous. Not only is your vision reduced, but other drivers may not as easily see you. This can result in car accidents, some even deadly.
However, luckily, the process of cleaning foggy headlights is easy. You just have to collect the basic cleaning essentials, and you are good to go. You can even make cleaning foggy headlights a simple DIY task for a Saturday morning.
What you need?
You’ll need the following to clean your headlights.
- Cleaning kit*, baking soda or toothpaste**
- Microfibre cloths or paper towels
- Plastic gloves
- A large soft-bristled brush
- Mild car cleaning solution
- Multi-surface painter’s tape
- Car polish
- Car wax
- UV sealant
*A car headlight cleaner kit should include sandpaper, polish, wax and UV sealant.
**You only need one of these three options. What you need depends on the cleaning method you choose.
How to clean a foggy headlight?
Follow this handy guide to get your headlights shining bright again.
Get everything you will need
Make sure you have everything ready to start cleaning your headlights. Have it all next to you before you start to save time and hassle. This can also help you avoid problems as you work through the following steps.
Start prepping your headlights
Start by cleaning the plastic outer layer of the headlights using soapy water. Use a brush or sponge to gently scrub away any dust or dirt that has built up. Make sure to clean the area around the headlights as well.
Use a cleaning solution that has been made especially for cars to avoid damaging your car’s paint.
Apply the tape around the headlight
Take the painter’s tape and stick it around the headlight area carefully. This is important because during sanding (in the next step for Method 1), the tape helps you from accidentally scratching your car’s paint.
It will stick better to a clean area.
Clean your headlights – Method 1
There are actually two methods for cleaning your headlights. Either works just as well, so choose whichever appeals to you.
Take your sandpaper and wet both the sandpaper and the headlight. Start sanding the headlight in straight, horizontal strokes. Always go in the same direction.
Make sure both the sandpaper and headlight stay wet to avoid scratching the headlight. You’re just trying to get the old UV resistant layer off, not scratch the plastic.
Keep doing this for five to ten minutes. You may like to use a finer grain of sandpaper as well to really get the old UV layer off.
Polish and wax your headlights
Wipe the headlight with a clean and dry microfiber cloth. Then apply the car polish using a clean cloth. Once the headlight looks clear, use the wax. Apply both in smooth circular motions.
Clean your headlights – Method 2
If you’re hesitant to use sandpaper, you can achieve a similar effect with baking soda or toothpaste.
If you’re using baking soda, mix it with a little water to create a thick paste. Use the toothpaste as is.
Apply either paste to the headlight. Leave it on there for a few minutes.
With circular motions, gently scrub with the soft-bristled brush. You should see the fogginess start to clear up and any yellow coloring fade.
Wipe any remaining paste away with a clean microfiber cloth. Don’t forget to get into any corners and edges. There shouldn’t be any more paste left.
Using a clean cloth, rub the headlights until they are clean and shiny.
Apply a UV sealant
So your headlights won’t quickly become foggy again, you need to use a UV sealant. This protects the outer plastic from UV rays.
Follow the instructions on the packaging. Usually one layer of the sealant is enough to protect the headlights.
Make sure you’re applying it to a clean and dry surface.
Let the sealant sit before trying your headlights out.
It’s easy to clean your car headlights, and it shouldn’t take more than a morning to get done. Don’t put off this simple but important job. Foggy headlights are dangerous for everyone. If you’re having trouble finding the time or you don’t have the necessary materials, you can get a professional to do it for you. Many car service centers and repairers offer this service. Speak to your local providers.