There was a time when cars came with glass headlights. Although they had benefits, the glass headlights were costly, limited aerodynamically, were heavy, and were hazardous when broken in a collision. Therefore, car manufacturers moved to using plastic lenses. Problem with plastic, however, is that it tends to “cloud” over time and limits headlight effectiveness. So, how can you take care of the clouding and overall maintenance of plastic headlights?
First step in caring for your plastic headlights is to understand why they cloud up in the first place. When sunlight hits the plastic lens, ultraviolet rays break down the chemical arrangement in the plastic. This ends up changing the structure of the surface plastic and making it opaque. In addition, just the outside environment in general gradually can wear down the surface of the plastic headlight lens.
When caring for your headlights, stay away from using harsh chemical cleaners that contain ammonia. This breaks down the plastic lens and causes your headlight to turn yellow. Best practice is to just use mild car soap to clean. If you wish, there are also many headlight protection kits on the market.
If you are looking for an easier maintenance solution, ask your favorite auto supply store about “Protection Films.” Protection Films add a thin layer of plastic over the existing headlight. This both deflects UV light and takes on abrasion damage that would normally reach the headlight. When they wear out, these films can be peeled off and replaced.
For those who use your vehicles for off-roading, consider installing a set of headlight guards. These thin metal or plastic grilles deflect rocks and limbs. These attach directly over the headlight or can be integrated into a bumper bar.
What if you are a D.I.Y. kinda’ person? If you go online, you will see a number of techniques people use to repair worn plastic lenses. Some polish off the top layer of plastic with toothpaste, while others use nail polish remover. Be forewarned though, results can range from making no real difference to destroying the lens. If you want to get light scratches and oxidation removed the right way, visit a detailing professional like Pete Solis Collision, or you can get an off-the-shelf headlight polishing kit. However, if your plastic headlights are really in bad shape, D.Y.I. is NOT the way to go! For this, leave it to the pros.
Pete Solis Collision Center is El Paso’s Auto Body Shop! With over 47 years of experience behind us, we are the top choice for bodywork, paint, and more. We are the home to ICAR certified professional body shop technicians, as well as quality Sherwin Williams Automotive Finishes. Pete Solis Collision Center is located at 1434 Lomaland Dr. in El Paso, Texas. Give us a call today at (915) 599-8666. We are open Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm.