If you have a hard time seeing the road at night, the plastic on your headlights might be compromised. However, don’t fret, this happens to many people’s headlights over time. It’s important to note that you have options. One option is to restore them, but this can be a time consuming and ultimately costly solution. Another option is to replace your flat out replace your headlights. Keep reading to find out if you should keep restoring your headlights or ultimately replace them for good.

What causes cloudy headlights?

The five main reasons your headlights can be comprised are:

  1. Water vapor—Although manufactured with a watertight seal, this can breakdown over the years. As a result, condensation often forms.
  2. Oxidation—Exposure to sunlight comprises the headlight’s topcoat. The hard plastic eventually turns yellow.
  3. Debris—The topcoat is pitted and scratched. This can be caused by salt, gravel or any other fragments that can be kicked-up at your headlights.
  4. Chemicals—An opaque layer can form on your headlight as a result of exposure to chemicals. Carbon monoxide from other vehicles is one culprit.
  5. Dirt—A build up of debris has formed on the lens.

Any or all these reasons could be causing your cloudy headlights. This rapidly turns into a serious safety issue. When night driving, your vision and reaction time could be diminished.

Can you fix cloudy headlights?

Some car or truck owners will try to restore their headlights. This encompasses sanding the headlight and the UV coating will be sanded off. Layers of grime must also be sanded off.

In order to do this properly, you must start with the most abrasive sandpaper and work your way down to a fine sandpaper. The goal is to remove all the UV coating and dirt while continuously working the sander in straight, horizontal strokes. It’s important to wipe the headlight clean between each sanding.

The final step is to polish the headlights and this whole process is very time consuming. One average sized headlight will take anywhere from 30-40 minutes. Here’s the kicker, this process can only be used on polycarbonate or polyacrylic lenses. But, it can’t be used on glass or glass lenses.

A professional restoration

Having a professional restore your headlights is another option, as they are the experts.. But, that expertise comes at a hefty price. The cost varies depending on how large your headlights are and what region you live in. Plan on paying anywhere between $80-150 to restore both headlights.

Length of time restored headlights stay clear

Part of the restoration process is removing the UV coating. As a result, the restored headlights will yellow sooner than a replacement headlight. A restored headlight is expected to last anywhere from 10 months to 3 years. But, you may not be fortunate enough to have your restored headlights last for years. If that’s the case, you’ll have to constantly put a lot of hard work and money into keeping your headlights clear.

One of the major issues of restoring your headlights is eliminating the factory applied UV coating. Replacing the coating is not a viable option. New coatings have some limitations and negative effects on the headlight and it often doesn’t bond well with the lens. As a result, it can chip or peel off after a few months. Because you can’t replace the UV coating, this contributes to the premature yellowing of the headlight.

New Headlights

We know this process can be confusing and complex. Should you buy factory new headlights or restore the old ones? Restoring headlights is a temporary, short term fix. You’re better off going with a long-term, safety ensured, solution. Although purchasing new headlights might seem like a large investment, it will save you time and money. A place such as Headlights Depot provides the solution to your dilemma by offering incredible savings on new headlights. For example, a new Chevrolet Silverado headlamp is 50% off retail price. Headlights Depot makes it easy to choose the right headlight for your vehicle.

Regardless of what you decide, you have multiple options. You can continue restoring your headlights, or you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with purchasing new headlights.

At what point did you choose to replace your headlights in your vehicle? We want to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below.

Anne Johnson
Anne Johnson has professionally written for numerous publications and websites throughout her writing career. With a degree in Mass Communications from the University of Akron, Anne now resides in Charleston, South Carolina. She is often seen riding around the Lowcountry with the “top down” in her red Mustang.

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