13.04.2021

It's fair to say that your car's headlights have probably seen their fair share of action over the years. After all, they're basically the eyes of a vehicle, and just like our own sight, taking care of them is vital.

Faced with sunlight, dirt and grit from the road, your headlights' performance can dwindle over time, with discolouration and oxidation causing them to become cloudy. Even for drivers who meticulously take care of their cars, the reduced effectiveness of fogged up headlights can cause problems over time.

Here, we'll show you some tips to get your headlights shining bright once more, as well as when to cut your losses and get them replaced at one of our specialist garages.


Restoring headlights with household items

Before you head out to a specialist shop or take your car to the garage, it might be worth going down the DIY route first. You never know, you might already have the right headlight restoration method in one of your cupboards at home.

While these DIY methods can be effective, they're generally temporary measures rather than long-term fixes. You might also have to try these methods a few times for the best results.


Toothpaste

That's right, toothpaste doesn't just keep your smile clean and bright. Thanks to the abrasive elements of gritty toothpaste, it can gently remove the surface layers of scrapes and scratches on your headlight casing.

Here’s how it works:

Using a toothbrush, apply a combination of toothpaste and baking soda to your headlight lenses until the toothpaste turns dirty or begins to discolour

Leave the toothpaste to dry

Gently wash it off with a cloth and warm water

Baking soda

Great for making cakes, and great for keeping your car's headlights in good nick too. Break out the baking soda if your car’s lights need buffing up.

Mix baking soda with water to create a paste

Apply to your headlights in circular motions using a sponge

Rinse with warm water


White vinegar

The white vinegar method takes a bit more effort compared to other DIY approaches. But if you're after a more thorough clean, then it's well worth trying.

Remove your headlight casing

Fill up a container that's big enough for you to submerge your casing with white vinegar

Leave them to soak for an hour

Use a sponge to rub any dirt away and rinse before reinstalling


Cola

Yes, even your preferred brand of cola can be used to restore your headlights' former glory. It may be more of a light treatment compared to our other suggestions, but it's still worth trying.

Soak a sponge with cola and apply to your headlights

Leave for 5 minutes

Wash away with a cloth and warm water

washing headlight

Restoring headlights with headlight restoration kits

For something more heavy-duty, headlight restoration kits are an excellent alternative. Typically, they include sandpapers, a selection of tools with abrasive discs or wool pads, or cleaning/coating solutions to help brighten up casings that have undergone years of wear and tear.


Abrasive-based restoration kits

If you've bought any kit that includes sandpaper and drill attachments used for sanding or buffing, then follow the steps below:

Clean your headlights with shampoo and leave to dry

Mask off paintwork with tape to avoid potential damage

If they've been provided, apply any pre-treatment solutions to the headlights

Sand with a drill attachment or sandpaper in a gentle motion, taking care not to dig into the headlight. If your kit comes with a range of sandpapers or abrasive discs, then start with the coarsest first (the lowest grit number) then work your way towards higher grit numbers

If a foam disc is provided, use it to smooth the headlight surface

Polish with restoring compound to finish

Repeat on your car's second headlight


Clean and coat restoration kit

If you're using a clean and coat restoration kit, then follow the steps below.

Cover the headlight surface with the cleaning solution supplied in the kit

Wipe the surface clean with a damp cloth and leave to dry

Cover the headlight surface with the coating solution and leave to dry for 3-5 minutes

Apply a second coat, following the same steps

Repeat on your car's second headlight

Replacing your car's headlights

Sometimes you reach a point where your headlights are beyond help. If you've tried the above methods or it's something else, like the headlight bowl's silvering deteriorating, then now would be the time to have them replaced by a professional.

Whether it's replacing the bulb or replacing the entire headlight unit, one of our specialist garages will be more than happy to take a look at things for you.

Of course, the price of any repair will vary. A halogen bulb might cost as little as £9, while an entire headlight unit will cost considerably more.

Much of this is due to HID and LED bulbs. Compared to halogen bulbs, HID and LED options are a lot brighter and can last up to ten times as long too. The downside, however, is that they're much pricier to repair.

Because of their complex design, HID and LED lights can't be opened up like a normal unit. That means motorists might have to replace the whole headlight unit when a bulb blows, rather than simply replacing the bulb itself.

Nevertheless, headlights are a vastly important part of road safety, and it's well worth going for a trusted option when opting for a repair. Get in touch with the Brindley Group today – we'd be happy to discuss what's available to you.  

How to prevent headlights from degrading

Whether you've restored your car headlights or had them replaced, some preventative measures can stop them from degrading or yellowing again. Give the following a try and let there be light all year round:

Regularly wash your car: Washing your car with a specially designed shampoo will stop dirt and deposits from building up, both of which dim your headlights over time.

Use polish: Frequently polishing your headlights can eliminate scratches that lead to discoloured headlight lenses.

Park in the shade: Parking in shaded areas stops the sun's UV rays from oxidising your headlight casings.

Looking for more from the Brindley Group? Click here to check out more news from the motoring world, or if you’re in the market for a new car, see how we can help at our homepage.