Fact or Fiction: Hazy Headlights Affect Visibility

Your car’s headlights are an integral safety feature that makes driving at night and in bad weather possible. These beams of light serve two important purposes: they help you see in the dark and they make your car visible to other drivers around you. As Daylight Savings Time ends and kids hit the streets to go trick-or-treating, the importance of good visibility while driving at night becomes paramount.

But do hazy headlights really affect visibility? Is it worth restoring hazy headlights? It’s no hoax – yellowed, foggy lenses decrease visibility for many cars on the road today. Learn more about what causes headlights to become hazy and how headlight restoration is the key to restoring maximum nighttime visibility.

The Prevalence of Hazy Headlights

Walk through any parking lot and you’ll notice as many as nine out of 10 cars sporting hazy headlights. As you might expect, older cars are more likely to have hazy headlights. With the average age of cars on the road hovering around 10 years old, the problem is only growing. And hazy headlights aren’t just a problem for less expensive vehicles; you’re just as likely to find luxury cars with hazy lenses, especially older ones.

What Causes Headlights to Become Hazy?

Many drivers falsely believe that hazy headlights occur naturally and require no attention. However, because yellowed lenses restrict your headlights’ ability to illuminate the road in front of your car, it’s important not to ignore hazy lenses.

Time and the environment both take their toll on headlights. Here are some of the most prominent causes of yellowed, hazy or foggy lenses:

  • Oxidation: Headlights are covered with a hard topcoat during the manufacturing process to help protect them as long as possible. Over time, this top layer deteriorates and wears away, exposing the acrylic lenses underneath to the air. The distortion of wavelengths as UV rays hit the acrylic causes it to oxidize and turn the lenses slightly yellow.
  • Road damage: With their position at the front of your car near the ground, headlights take the brunt of the damage when small rocks and debris start flying. Gravel can nick the plastic headlight and create dents and pits that mar the once-smooth surface.
  • Mud and chemical film: Wet roads can splash muddy water onto your headlights, creating a dirty film. Salt and road chemicals used to melt ice in the winter can also splatter on the lens, depositing an opaque layer that makes it harder for your headlights to illuminate the road.
  • Water vapor: If the headlight seal breaks, moisture will invariably enter, allowing water vapor to form on the inside of the lens where you can’t wipe it away. Water droplets scatter light from the bulb and decrease visibility when driving at night.

Seek Headlight Restoration from Glass Doctor

If your headlights appear foggy or dirty, first try a simple carwash to remove dirt and chemicals. This may greatly help to improve visibility from your headlights. However, if the lenses have oxidized or been nicked by roadway gravel, a carwash won’t do much good.

In this case, you may be tempted to try do-it-yourself headlight cleaning techniques. Many DIY tips and tricks are out there, but they offer varying degrees of effectiveness and longevity.

For the best results when your car, truck, SUV or RV needs new or restored headlights, turn to Glass Doctor. Our acrylic headlight repair experts will assess the damage and restore your headlights to a like-new condition for the best possible visibility at night and in bad weather.

To take advantage of our headlight restoration services, please contact Glass Doctor today.