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Fact or Fiction: You Have to Replace a Hazy Headlight

A cloudy headlight

Take a quick glance at the headlights on a new car. The acrylic is perfectly transparent and you can see all the details of the headlamp behind it. Now look at your own car. It’s a few years old and has a few thousand miles on it. The headlights also have an unappealing, hazy look to them. Beyond just cosmetics, hazy headlights are a safety hazard, obscuring the beam of light and making it harder to see in front of your car at night.

What are your options, then? Do you have to replace your hazy headlights? Fortunately, you have a less expensive option: restore your headlights to their original clear condition with professional headlight restoration.

Why Do Headlights Become Hazy?

Time and the environment both take their toll on your headlights. A hazy fog develops due to:

  • Oxidation: If you park outside, UV rays from the sun pound on your car all day. As these damaging rays hit the acrylic headlights, they oxidize and turn slightly yellow over time.
  • Driving conditions: While headlights are manufactured with a hard topcoat, this layer eventually wears away as the headlights take a beating from small rocks, road salt, and other debris that goes flying when you cruise down the highway. Nicks and scratches attract mud, dirt, and dust, obscuring the lenses and making it harder to see when you drive at night.
  • Water vapor: Headlights have a watertight seal to keep moisture out. If this seal breaks, condensation can form inside the lens, preventing you from wiping it away. Water droplets scatter light from the bulb to further decrease nighttime visibility.

Replacing vs. Fixing Hazy Headlights

It’s easy to think that because hazy headlights occur naturally, they require no attention as the car ages. This false assumption leaves many cars with obscured headlights, which causes more accidents and puts lives at risk.

Fortunately, instead of paying hundreds of dollars to replace both headlights every few years, you can fix your existing headlights for much less. But should you attempt to clean your headlights yourself or have a professional restore them?

DIY Cleaning vs. Professional Headlight Restoration

Headlight restoration is not the same thing as simply cleaning the headlights. DIY headlight cleaning may seem effective at first, but the results typically only last 30 days or less because the abrasive chemicals used to clean headlights remove whatever protective coating is left. This means the moment you hit the road, all the issues that caused your hazy headlights in the first place work that much faster to redo the damage.

Headlight restoration is different. Yes, cleaning is the first step, but it doesn’t end there. The next phase is to polish the headlights to remove scratches that obscure the light and attract dirt. Restoration can also involve fixing the headlight’s watertight seal so condensation no longer forms inside the lens to obscure your vision.

The final step, which makes the biggest difference of all, is to seal the headlights. This protects the acrylic and prevents hazing from returning for a year or more. The sealer must be a high-quality product to work well, which is why professional service is superior to DIY headlight restoration kits.

Have Your Hazy Headlights Restored by Glass Doctor®

Car washes and at-home cleaning can only do so much for hazy headlights. For long-lasting results, turn to Glass Doctor. Our acrylic headlight repair experts will assess the condition of your headlights and take all the necessary steps to return them to a like-new condition for better nighttime visibility. Contact us today to schedule headlight restoration services.