Over time, the clear plastic lens covers that protect your headlights may become cloudy. And, depending on your car’s make and model, replacement lenses and assemblies can be several hundred dollars each. Thankfully, refinishing is a great alternative.
Most modern headlights are made of a nearly unbreakable polycarbonate plastic that is treated to protect against pollutants like UV rays and exhaust fumes. The life of those protective coatings really depends on the level of exposure to those hazards– especially the amount and intensity of sunlight. As the coatings degrade the headlights can become cloudy, causing two problems:
(1) it significantly reduces illumination making it harder for you to see;
(2) the light coming through the lens scatters rather than being focused on the road which creates glare for oncoming drivers and makes it really it hard for them to see you at a distance.
Once this happens, they need to be refinished.
The only way to dramatically improve the performance of deteriorated headlights is to refinish the lenses– which can be a painstaking and nervewracking process. Ideally, you need to 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. This process can be super labor-intensive, with a lot of opportunities for things to go wrong. If you’re nervous about doing it at home, you can also just call in a professional, like our shop– having your lenses professionally refinished isn’t terribly expensive and it’s usually a lot less stressful because, well, you don’t really have to do anything.
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that definitely holds true for headlights. All plastic headlight assemblies must pass a minimum three-year durability test to be approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation but AAA testing revealed that most lenses begin to deteriorate after about five years.
Many auto dealers and parts stores sell lens treatments to help you maintain the quality of your headlights coating on your own. When applied regularly, these products can significantly extend the life of the factory protective coating. But it’s important to note that these are short-term solutions at best; they merely act as “sunscreen” for your headlights, to temporarily block out environmental contaminants. If you really want to see results, you’ll need to have them refinished
The next time you walk up to your car, take a moment to check out the headlights. Walk all the way around your vehicle and examine the headlights, brake lights, reverse lights, and blinkers, to see if any bulbs need to be replaced. Take a minute to carefully inspect the lenses– if the lenses are cloudy or opaque, you have a serious safety problem on your hands.
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.