Why Your Headlights Get Foggy

car driving in fog

When you drive at night, do you have a hard time seeing the road? The sun, rain, and road conditions may have taken their toll on your acrylic headlights and caused them to turn cloudy. Severely foggy headlights can reduce visibility by up to 50 percent. On top of this, hazy headlights are just plain ugly. Let’s uncover the reasons why your headlights get foggy and what you can do to stop it.

What Makes Headlights Cloudy?

  • Oxidation: Acrylic headlights oxidize when exposed to UV light. Headlight lenses come with a clear top coat to help prevent this, but eventually, the coating wears off, and sunlight turns the hard plastic yellow.
  • Flying debris: Your headlights take a beating from gravel, road salt, and other debris that gets kicked up as you cruise down the road. This wears down the top coat and creates pits and scratches on your headlights, adding to their cloudy appearance.
  • Dirt and chemicals: After several years on the road, a thin layer of dirt and chemicals form on the lenses. This opaque layer dims the beam coming from your headlights.
  • Water vapor: Headlights are manufactured with a watertight seal, but wear and tear can cause this seal to break. Condensation then forms inside the lens where you can’t wipe it away. The water droplets scatter the beam of light, further impairing nighttime visibility.

How to Keep Headlights from Turning Yellow

  • Park your car in the shade: If possible, park in the garage or under a shady tree. If you don’t have that option, face your headlights away from the sun when parking outside to reduce UV exposure and slow the oxidizing process.
  • Wash your car: Every three months, wash the headlights with automotive soap to clean away dirt and chemicals that promote fogging.
  • Polish the headlights: Use a non-abrasive polishing medium and a microfiber cloth to polish your headlight lenses and remove early signs of yellowing.

DIY Treatments for Foggy Headlights

To restore your headlights yourself, start by washing the lenses with automotive soap so you have a clean surface to work with. Then, try any of these techniques to remove the haze from your headlights:

  • Baking soda paste: Mix 5 tablespoons of baking soda with enough water to form a paste. Apply liberally to both headlights with a sponge and polish with small circular motions. Rinse the headlights to reveal the results.
  • Toothpaste: Apply toothpaste directly to each lens. Scrub with a soft, dry cloth. Rinse the toothpaste away and enjoy the restored appearance of your headlights.
  • Vinegar bath: Remove the lenses and soak them in white vinegar for one hour. Rub away grime with a rough sponge and reinstall the lenses when you’re done.

Professional Headlight Restoration

The results from DIY headlight cleaning only last about a month. The abrasive chemicals remove the oxidation, but they don’t protect against future yellowing. Professional headlight restoration is more effective. It involves:

  • Sanding the headlights to remove the oxidized outer layer.
  • Polishing the headlights to remove scratches that obscure the light and attract dirt.
  • Sealing the headlights with a high-quality clear coat to slow future yellowing.
  • Fixing the headlight’s watertight seal so condensation can no longer form inside the lens.

Restore Your Hazy Headlights with Help from Glass Doctor

Now that you know what makes headlights fog, it’s clear that the best treatment option is headlight restoration. Let the team at Glass Doctor restore your headlights to like-new condition. Our results are long-lasting for safer nighttime driving. Contact us today to schedule headlight restoration services.