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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.