Headlight lenses protect the light bulb and help prevent glare from disrupting oncoming traffic. This safety feature reduces unnecessary accidents on the road, especially during dim weather conditions and at night. Unfortunately, headlights tend to become cloudy over time because of dirt, grime adhering to the lenses, and oxidation. Although many drivers choose to take their vehicles to a repair shop, this can actually be achieved on one's own by following a few easy steps. This do-it-yourself approach saves the driver unnecessary expense.
Fixing Cloudy Headlight Lenses
The best method for removing headlight cloudiness will often depend on a driver's preference as well as the availability of supplies. Regardless of which method is chosen, a few preparations are needed before work commences. Lift the hood for easy access, make sure cleaning supplies are safe to use near paint, and wear protective gear, like an old shirt, rubber gloves, and goggles. Move the car to a location that is protected from sunlight to avoid drying while sanding.
Masking Tape Method
Protect the vehicle's paint by masking around the headlight. Do not use duct tape or any other type of heavy-duty tape. Use only masking tape or painters tape to avoid unnecessary damage to the paint. Soak a piece of 600-grit sand paper in soapy water, wash the lens with soap and water, and dry with a clean towel. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the lens to remove all excess soap.
After the lens is thoroughly cleaned and rinsed, apply a polish that is specifically designed for plastic, taking care to distribute the material evenly. Then, dip a sanding sponge and the 600-grit sand paper in soapy water, and begin to sand the headlight. Keep the headlight wet while moving on to a lighter grit sand paper like 1200 grit, and then 2000 grit all the way down to 2500 grit. Apply more polish, allowing it to sit for a moment, and then wipe with a clean towel. After the excess polish is removed, clean the lens with soap and water, and use wax as needed to protect the lens.
Commercial Headlight Cleaner
A commercial headlight cleaner is an attractive choice for many drivers. It is less expensive than going to a repair shop but still quite simple for drivers to do on their own. To begin, remove all dust and debris from the headlight using a cloth. Then, gently pour a small amount of cleaner onto a rag, and with a little pressure, rub the cloth in a circular motion or up, down, and side to side until the headlight clears. Once the desired result is achieved, wipe the headlight with a clean cloth until dry. Check the surrounding painted surfaces for excess cleaner, and remove as necessary. Pay careful attention to painted surfaces as the cleaner can cause damage if left directly in contact with the paint.
Another interesting and thrifty way to eliminate fogginess from headlight lenses is with toothpaste, particularly the varieties that include a whitening agent. To apply this method, first wash the headlight, and protect the other surfaces of the vehicle. Apply small amounts of toothpaste with a damp cloth, and rub in a circular motion. A bit of pressure will help to remove scratches from the lens as well.
When the lens begins to clear, add water to begin the rinsing process. Rinse and dry the headlight, and for added protection, add some wax or even furniture polish to the lens.
Test for Results
Once the headlights are thoroughly cleaned and clear to the desired level, it is time to test their safety when driving. To do this, simply turn the key to allow power to the battery, and turn on the headlights. Keep the vehicle in a shady or dim area for best viewing of the finished result. The headlights should appear clear, without cloudiness or haziness, and be free from scratches and residue.