How To Maintain Your Car’s Headlights
Headlights are important safety devices. A set of good working headlights is necessary to get a clear view of the road in the dark and be seen by other road users. If you rarely drive at night, you may not appreciate the difficulty of driving with poor headlights. But, the problem becomes evident in winter when days become short and visibility reduces.
The Importance Of Maintaining Your Car’s Headlights
When your headlights work well, you will get a clear view of the road ahead, including the shoulders, the sides and the road signs. You need a good view to see obstacles, potholes, bends and other road conditions early enough to respond.
Headlight problems are not limited to fused bulbs. Illumination produced by headlights tends to deteriorate over time compromising road visibility. You may not notice the problem until someone tells you or it becomes so bad that it becomes obvious.
The best way to ensure good headlights is to check them periodically. Check your headlights for dirt, worn out bulbs, uneven brightness, alignment errors or other problems. Well-maintained headlights will give good performance for many years.
Fixing Cloudy Headlights
Car manufacturers phased out glass headlight lenses decades ago. These days, headlamps are made from polycarbonate or plastic. While plastic doesn’t break easily, it turns yellow with age due to oxidation. This makes the headlamps foggy and reduces their performance. Fortunately, it’s easy to restore the clarity of oxidised headlamps.
First, wash the headlights with soap and water. Use a sponge or soft cloth to thoroughly clean the lamps and allow them to air dry. Put masking tape around the lamp to protect the surrounding metal and plastic parts. Moisten a soft cleaning cloth and put some toothpaste on it. You can use any type of toothpaste. They have ingredients that offer mild abrasion and are good for polishing surfaces.
Apply toothpaste on the headlamp using the cloth and then rub in quick circular motions to buff the surface. You can add a little more water if needed. Buff each headlight for about five minutes and then rinse with plenty of water. Allow them to dry.
Once the headlamps are dry, apply a little car wax using a clean cloth. Waxing will help the headlights retain their clarity for a longer period. This method is safe and easy. If it does not help restore headlight performance, get it checked at a garage.
Headlight Bulb Replacement Tips
Here are some things to keep in mind while replacing the bulbs.
1. Replace bulbs in time
Don’t wait until a bulb fuses. If you can’t remember when you last replaced your headlight bulbs, you probably need a new set. If you drive with just one working headlight, besides impairing your view, you are also making it difficult for other drivers to see you. They may also get confused about the width or type of your vehicle.
2. Choose the right bulb
There are many types of bulbs in the market. You get halogen, LED and Xenon bulbs. All of them may not be compatible with your vehicle. Some come with conversion kits that allow you to install a different type of bulb in your existing headlamp. Even then, ensure that the bulbs are suitable for your vehicle.
Besides the differences in technology, headlamp bulbs can vary in the colour of their beam and their capabilities. The colour can range from yellow to white. Some bulbs allow you to see farther and give better down the road visibility. Others have a shorter range, but provide better contrast and allow you to distinguish objects better, especially on the sides of the road. Whichever bulb you choose, it should not blind drivers coming from the opposite side.
3. Don’t replace just one bulb
Due to the gradual deterioration of headlamp bulbs, a new bulb paired with an old one will create an uneven field of view. Always change both together.
4. It is better to get the bulbs changed at a garage
Some headlight assemblies are complicated and may require special tools. Getting it done at a garage ensures compatibility and correct installation. Your mechanic will also advise you about possible upgrades to improve performance.
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