Clean headlights provide visibility for you and others while cloudy headlights increase the risks of driving at night. Clear vision is critical to vehicle safety, therefore when illumination lessons headlight restoration is important. The average vehicle on the roads around Madison WI is about 10 years old. The older a vehicle gets the more likely hazy headlights are a problem. Discolored headlight lenses are not just a problem in lower-priced vehicles, it happens to luxury rides, too.
The Causes Of Cloudy Headlights
Age and the environment take a toll on headlights, especially the polycarbonate protective lenses. They get cloudy, yellow and hazy-looking. There’s no one element that causes the discoloring, but these all contribute to the problem:
- Oxidation – headlight lenses come from the manufacturer with a hard topcoat to protect them as long as possible. The top layer wears away exposing the acrylic lens to the air and corrosives. The UV (ultra violet) rays of the sun change the chemistry of the plastic, changing its color – often to yellow or a yellowish brown.
- Physical Damage – the front of the vehicle is in the path of any airborne debris, thus damage from rocks, cement chips and other flying objects is common. Even little nicks, chips and dents in the plastic open the once smooth surface to further damage.
- Chemicals – wet roads, especially in winter, coat the headlights with mud and a dirty film. Salt and road chemicals create an opaque layer that reduces the light passing through the lens. On a damaged surface the chemicals combine with the plastic forming a permanent layer resulting in cloudy headlights.
- Condensation – water vapor inside the headlight condenses and forms a film. When the outer seal of the headlight breaks and moisture enters, water inside the lens scatters the light from the bulbs and reduces illumination. Headlight restoration is the ultimate solution.
Headlight Restoration Options
In Madison the most likely cause for lowered illumination in winter is dirt. If your headlights don’t appear to be doing their job, clean them. A good car wash removes dirt, salt and chemicals. A car wash is a start. But, nicked or oxidized lenses don’t benefit from a car wash because it doesn’t get to the root of the problem.
There are many do-it-yourself headlight cleaning suggestions. They have varying levels of effectiveness and longevity. Even more important, none come with a guarantee – unlike the solutions provided by Auto Color that come with a guarantee of their professional workmanship. Among the DIY options are:
- Toothpaste for your car – applying toothpaste to the discolored lenses does work. Follow up with a coat of good car wax. Keep on mind the shine will last only a couple of months before you must do it all again.
- Sandpaper – it sounds harsh but you can apply fine sandpaper to the nicked and pock-marked surfaces as a headlight restoration method. It’s a longer-term method that requires care and attention to detail. The process smooths out the minor cracks and chips that diffuse the light. You’ll have to add a couple layers of clearcoat to protect the surface when you’re done.
Improve Nighttime Visibility
Reliable headlights make driving at night and in bad weather possible. They not only provide the vision you need to be safe, they alert others to your presence. Headlights are one part of safe nighttime visibility. To guarantee safer trips at night and in bad weather, check all of these:
- Cloudy Headlights – whether clouded by road dirt, oxidation or any other cause, keep your headlights clean and get the most from each one. Cleaning is an easy fix while physical changes require a professional evaluation.
- Wiper Blades – even with enough light, rain or snow restricts your vision when you need your wipers. Brittle, damaged or frozen blades add to the risk. Inspect your wiper blades regularly and replace them when performance decreases – if your vehicle is stored outdoors the rubber on the wipers is also impacted by UV and other environmental factors more than ever.
- Washer Fluid – hand in hand with your wipers, making sure you have enough windshield washer fluid, it is rated for the temperatures of the season and the system works. Check nozzles to keep them free of debris, ice and snow.
Rely Upon Professional Headlight Restoration
You may be tempted by DIY options as a quick fix. Having the work done by a team of professionals you trust and one that stands behind it’s workmanship is a long-term investment. Auto Color provides a wide range of services to care for and repair your vehicles. Visit either of our two complete auto body repair shop locations in the Madison WI area – West on Parmenter Road in Middleton and East on Stoughton Road.
Call Auto Color Middleton at 608-831-9554 or Auto Color East Madison at 608-221-5041, or email us to enlist the efforts of skilled headlight restoration technicians to deal with your cloudy headlights in Madison WI.
Forbes Magazine – Check Your Headlights Lately