Cleaning your headlights

Headlights are one of the most crucial elements of your car. These polycarbonate lens-protected bulbs allow you to attain clear vision during night-time driving, as well as it prevents you from getting hit by oncoming vehicles. So, having well-maintained crystal-clear headlamps is among the safety hazards you must consider. 

Polycarbonate plastic on headlights became a thing in the ‘80s, since the glass ones are expensive and heavier. This is a type of hard-to-break plastic with high insulating effect, which makes it a great candidate for a glass headlight alternative. Though this plastic has great traits, this innovation led to another problem, as polycarbonate is vulnerable to UV rays and weather conditions.

When not properly taken care of, the plastic turns yellowish and blurry, which then obstructs light from the bulbs. Fortunately, you can DIY your way out of these cloudy, yellowish headlight hassles. That said, regularly cleaning your headlamps will help in avoiding this inconvenience. You just have to follow these tips.

What makes your headlamps yellow? 

If your car has yellow headlamps existing at this point in time, you probably missed the proper way of cleaning it. Having regular ordinary car wash does not guarantee you long-lasting clear headlamps, as the yellow fog is a result of too much exposure to ultraviolet light (UV), dirt, pollution, and other harmful elements you encounter on the road.

The short- and long-term remedy 

There are two most common solutions in making your headlamps appear crystal-clear. It’s no rocket science but merely a toothpaste with a car wax, or through sanding and spraying. No need for us to argue with anyone, as certain conditions and instances may demand a quick fix or tedious method. We assure you, both methods work, you just have to evaluate the time you have and how badly your headlamps need a fix.

Toothpastes clean your teeth… and polycarbonate plastic. 

One quick solution that is considered to be a short-term trick that really works is the use of toothpaste. Toothpastes that have plaque-removing chemicals are the most recommended type as they work best in dealing with your headlamps' oxidation. Cleaning your headlights with toothpaste is simple, you just need a sponge, a clean rag, painter's tape or masking tape, optional car wax to make it shiny and, of course, toothpaste. 

What you need to do is put a good amount of toothpaste on one side of the sponge then rub it directly on the surface of your polycarbonate lamp covers. Keep in mind that you have to do this in a slow, circular manner to get the best result. Rinse it with clean water and dry it off with the clean rag. Apply the wax then polish it to have crystal-clear lamps that are good as new. Have in mind that this could last 2 to 4 months only.

Get rough with it for a long-term shine – go for sanding. 

Sandpaper might sound a little too harsh to be used on your headlamps but this method is the best if you want a long-lasting result. You'll be needing a 400 to 600 (depending on how cloudy they are) and 2,000 grit sandpapers, a bucket of clean water, painter's tape, a clear coat, rubbing alcohol and a dry towel. 

To start off, wet your headlights with clean water and damp the 400 (or 600) grit sander in the bucket. Sand the headlight in small circles, portion after portion until you cover the entire thing. You might repeat this process two to three times to make sure you didn't miss a spot. Keep splashing right amounts of water throughout the entire sanding. Rinse it off and dry it with a clean towel. 

Once it completely dries, clean it with your rubbing alcohol and wipe it off with a paper towel to make sure it's free of dusts before applying the clear coat. The next thing you need to do is cover the surrounding area with either a newspaper or a plastic bag, and secure it with painter's tape. Spray on your clear coating evenly and thoroughly, and make sure you do this a couple of times. Leave it to dry for a day and you should end up with brand new-looking headlights.

Do this every time you wash your car. 

As we've recently said, regular car wash won't guarantee your headlights a long-lasting shine. What you need are these tools: a plastic protectant or UV protection coat. Make sure that every time you finish washing your car, apply these to your headlamps to preserve its beauty and shine. Remember, headlights are your aid to clear vision during night drives so take good care of them as you should with your eyes.

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