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Easy Ways to Maintain Your Car’s Headlights

Easy Ways to Maintain Your Car's Headlights

Just like your engine, air filters, and oil, your car’s headlights need to be checked, maintained, and sometimes replaced to keep your vehicle operating at peak performance. However, a lot of drivers neglect their headlights until their visibility is greatly reduced – and they need to be replaced entirely. As headlights are one of the most essential parts of your vehicle’s safety components, it’s crucial that drivers keep their headlights consistently maintained.

In this article, we’ll go over our top headlight maintenance tips, so you can keep your car looking good and operating safely for every trip you take.

Tip #1: Clean your headlights regularly

The easiest way to keep your headlights functioning properly is by keeping them clean. As you drive, your headlights collect dust, grime, and other pollutants that, over time, can make them fog up. Additionally, prolonged exposure to UV rays from the sun can cause headlights to appear yellowed and foggy.

Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to clear up foggy headlights. As a part of your regular headlight maintenance, you should wipe down your headlights with a damp microfiber cloth once a week. If your headlights are in need of more TLC, we recommend starting with a DIY headlight restoration remedy, like vinegar or baking soda to polish away stubborn grime.

If you still can’t seem to get your headlights back in tip-top shape, there are plenty of affordable headlight restoration kits on the market that offer high-powered cleaning solutions that can be done in less than an hour.

Tip #2: Adjust your bulbs

Another routine part of headlight maintenance you may not have thought of before is checking the placement of the bulbs themselves. Over time, headlight bulbs can become off-kilter, pointing too high, too low, or be completely off-center.

Follow the guidelines outlined by Popular Mechanics below to check how your bulbs are doing.

To check the aim of your headlight bulbs, first make sure your car is level, and then pull it as close as you can to a smooth, (plainly colored, if possible) wall. Turn on your headlights. Next, you’ll want to mark the center of where each beam hits the wall with some pieces of painters tape. One piece of tape should be placed horizontally, and one vertically (aim to make the vertical piece about 2 feet long).

After marking up your wall, back up your vehicle about 20-30 feet while keeping your headlights on. If your headlight bulbs are set correctly, the most intense portion of their light beam will be at the center of the horizontal piece of tape, and to the right of the vertical piece of tape.

If you do have to adjust your bulbs, you’ll typically find your headlight’s adjusters on the sides or back of each headlight.

Tip #3: Replace your headlights in pairs

Although your headlight set works as a pair, it’s possible that one bulb may go out before the other. If that’s the case, it’s a better idea to go ahead and replace the entire set. Typically, if one bulb goes out, the other one is likely close to blowing out as well.

Keep yourself from potentially driving with only one working bulb and replace failing headlights in pairs. Check out Headlights Depot to find the correct headlight set for your vehicle’s make and model.

Tip #4: Upgrade to a higher-performing headlight set

If you do end up having to replace your headlight set, why not upgrade your headlight’s performance? Making the switch to LEDs from halogen can result in brighter, longer-lasting, and more efficient headlights for your car.

Any upgrade beyond a basic replacement can help create a safer driving experience for you and others on the road.

At the end of the day, good headlight maintenance is just another part of keeping you and other motorists as safe as possible. We hope these simple tips and recommendations will be helpful in keeping your headlights right on track.

What are some of your favorite tips? Let us know in the comments below.

Claire Biggerstaff
Claire Biggerstaff is a freelance writer and photographer from Charlotte, NC. Her curiosity leads her to write about a wide variety of topics. On her off days, she enjoys reading Polygon articles, and curling up to a good YouTube playlist.

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    7 Comments

    1. If your lucky enough to have a garage, park in it. The best way to keep your headlights looking new is to keep them away from long-term sun exposure.

    2. I agree with the parking in the garage comment to extend the life of the headlights, as well as parking in the shade if possible to extend your lights and vehicle exterior.

    3. excellent article. garage kept is the way to go!

    4. The best advise is definitely to do preventive checks instead of waiting for them to get so bad that they are beyond restoration. If you can barely see through them, don’t waste your time or money trying to restore them. Start shopping for new headlights. You won’t regret it.

    5. Making sure your headlights are properly adjusted is one of the most important things you can do. If your headlights are pointing too far down so you don’t see well, or too far up, blinding oncoming traffic it can be dangerous.

    6. A car is like a body. Preventative Medicine goes a lot further than restorative medicine.

    7. Upgrading your headlight bulbs with LEDs is the most effective and simple way to increase performance. Often times, your headlights could be adjusted to improve the beam pattern. Doing both of these tasks is highly important.

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