Have you noticed your headlights aren’t illuminating the road like they used to? Are you thinking it’s time to replace the bulb? Before you go to the hassle and expense of replacing the bulbs (or entire light fixture depending on what model car you have) try cleaning the lens first.
Now-a-days headlights don’t dim as they used to. A Halogen headlight bulb can last five, six, seven or even more years. Both of my vehicles still have the original halogen bulb in them!
One of my vehicles is a 1989 model year and the other is a 1996 model year. The 1989 bulbs are more than twenty years old and they’re brighter than the 1996’s!
There are several products that are manufactured specifically for headlight lens cleaning. These products work just fine, but a basic plastic cleaner works great too and cost’s less. Plastic scratch remover can also be used to repair scratches in CD’s, DVD’s (it’s very, very good at fixing scratches on DVD’s!), blu rays, flashlight lens covers and anything else made of plastic that has a few scratches you want to remove or just put a nice polish on.
The headlight bulb itself does not suffer in the elements. The bulb is encased in a constant, stable environment. Nothing can penetrate the plastic lens cover except maybe a rock. As long as the plastic lens is intact water, wind, sleet, snow or mud cannot affect the bulb. On the backside of the headlight a rubber grommet, boot or an o ring seal the compartment to protect the bulb from the environment. In this perfect environment a bulb can last a very long time unless damaged by a rock tossed up by another vehicle or other various methods of physical damage.
On the other hand the lens takes a brutal beating every time the vehicle is taken out for a drive. Baking in the sun, enduring speeds of up to seventy five miles an hour on your daily commute, bugs of every shape size and color mashed onto them at high speed and low speed, rain beating down on them, sleet bashing away at them, it’s a taxing life the lens goes through! So it should come as no surprise that maybe it isn’t the headlight bulb that is dimming, but maybe it’s the lens.
You will need:
- A clean cloth to apply the plastic scratch remover.
- Another cloth to for the final polish.
- A bottle of plastic scratch remover.
To clean the lens you don’t have to remove it.
When you have these items together, this is what you do:
- Clean the lens first with water to get any bugs and road grime off the lens.
- Then apply a grape size bead to the cleaning cloth and starting at one end of the light fixture use a circular motion and press firm, even pressure. Rub the section for a couple of minutes with the firm pressure.
- Add more plastic scratch remover to the cloth and move to the next section and do the same thing.
- Remember to use firm, even pressure. Continue adding and buffing in circles until you’ve covered the whole lens.
- Go back with your soft polishing cloth and wipe off the residue left from the plastic scratch remover, again, using firm, even pressure.
- Flip to a fresh side of the cloth and buff the whole lens for half a minute making sure to get all the plastic scratch remover off or it will leave a haze of its own defeating the purpose of the cleaning.
- When you’re done with that headlight move on to the other headlight. Tail and signal lights can also be cleaned in the same exact fashion.