Headlight Restoration: Refinishing Aged & Cloudy Headlights

headlight restoration

Headlight restoration is one service car owners tend to forget about.

Over time, the clear plastic lens covers that protect your headlights may become cloudy from dirt, grime, and condensation that build up inside the plastic. This can cause the light illuminating your path to become dim which significantly reduces your visibility after sunset.

Headlight restoration services can give new life to your headlights and help keep you safe on the road.

How It Works

Most modern headlights are made a sturdy polycarbonate plastic designed to protect against UV rays, exhaust fumes, and other pollutants. The life of the protective coatings on the plastic depends on the level of exposure to those pollutants over time, especially the amount and intensity of sunlight. As the coatings degrade, the headlights can become cloudy, causing two problems:

(1) it significantly reduces illumination which makes it harder for you to see and navigate the road;

(2) the light coming through the lens scatters rather than being focused on the road. This creates glare for oncoming drivers and makes it really hard for them to see you at a distance.

Deep Cleaning

Before you take your car into the shop for headlight restoration, you can try giving them a deep clean. Refer to your owners manual to determine how to remove your headlight, then carefully clean the inside and outside of the plastic with a gentle surface cleaner and dry them well before remounting. It is critically important that the plastic be totally dry before it is remounted. Otherwise, condensation can build up inside the headlight causing them to fog up and collect mildew, or even cause a short.

Depending on the condition of your headlights, it might not make a monumental difference. But, if it could save you a few bucks, it’s worth a shot! Plus, cleaning your headlights on a regular basis can help to prevent the build-up of salt, dirt, and other debris that can scratch the surface—and the fewer scratches the get the longer your headlights will last.

Professional Restoration and Refinishing

The only way to dramatically improve the performance of deteriorated headlights is to have the lenses refinished—or to replace the coatings, as opposed to just deep cleaning the lens. Your mechanic will lightly sand the lens to remove damaged plastic, polish the surface with compound to restore clarity and remove scratches, and then retreat the headlight with a professional- grade protective coating. 

Avoid the Hassle At V&F

The next time you walk up to your car, take a moment to check out the headlights. If the lenses are cloudy or opaque, you could have a serious safety problem on your hands. At V&F, all of our auto repair services are backed by an industry-leading 3 year / 36,000-mile warranty on parts and labor. Call us at (413) 314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.

 

Written by Nicole Palange

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