Have your headlights turned foggy and yellow?
Are they an eyesore?
Worse, are they noticeably dimmer?
They might be in need of a good restoration.
Let’s dive into why headlights do what they do, debunk a few common misconceptions, and help you figure out whether we need to give them a once over.
Why have my headlights turned yellow?
It’s not your fault, promise. It’s easy to assume that you didn’t wipe them down often enough, or you didn’t run through the car wash with enough frequency. It’s not actually anything you’re doing (or not doing), but the sun that causes them to yellow.
Your headlights are covered by a specially designed hard plastic engineered to protect them from impacts and regular wear and tear. This material is much more durable than glass, but it’s also porous (think a sponge, though not so visibly holey). Simply being exposed to UV rays of the sun will wear down the UV deflecting coat that is on your headlight covers. Once that coat has worn off, the porous material begins to fill with microscopic bits of pollution, eventually turning them yellow.
See? Not your fault!
A common misconception is that the yellowing happens from the inside out due to moisture or the headlights themselves coloring the plastic, when in actuality none of that is true. It’s an inevitable part of owning a vehicle. That doesn’t mean there isn’t hope, but we’ll get to that soon.
How do I know if it’s time to have them looked at?
Most vehicle repairs are complex and require an expert to diagnose. Few rely on simply looking at your vehicle. This, however, is one of those few ailments you can self-diagnose – and unlike searching on WebMD, the prognosis isn’t always fatal.
Walk to the front of your vehicle and take a look. If they’re yellow and you’re having a hard time seeing the bulbs, restoration is likely needed. Even if they’re only beginning to yellow, preventative restoration may be the best course of action. For those that are less mechanically inclined, you may not notice until you’re having trouble seeing on a dark country road, but that’s often when it’s beginning to become dangerous.
Can my headlights be restored?
They sure can! Like we mentioned before, headlight covers are made of a tough, thick plastic that can take quite a beating. That means, with the right chemicals and the know-how, they can be made to look like they did the moment you first drove off the lot – even better in many cases.