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Headlight Restoration Tips From Sylvania Automotive Lighting

Headlight restoration not only makes your car look better, but it also can have a major impact on driver safety.

headlight restoration

(Photo: scyther5 / iStock / Thinkstock)

Headlight restoration not only makes your car look better, but it can have a major impact on driver safety. In fact, a AAA study found that cleaning your headlights doubles the maximum light intensity of your lamps and reduces glare-producing light scatter by up to 60 percent – both very good things if you want to see where you’re going on a dark night or rainy day.

But the problem is, only about 20 percent of drivers have attempted to clean their car’s headlights, according to AAA. Considering that headlights start to deteriorate after five years, and the average age of cars on the road is more than 11 years, chances are you know someone who could benefit from a headlight cleaning and new bulbs.

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Take some time to check the condition of your headlights, and keep reading for headlight care tips from Brian Noble of Sylvania Automotive Lighting.

Q. Do drivers really need to clean their headlights and if so, why?

Absolutely. Headlights are a critical, active safety item within a vehicle, as they serve as the first line of defense when driving at night or in dark conditions. Being able to see an object in the road or on the side of the road is an important step to being able to react appropriately. If a driver detects an object or animal in the road sooner, they will make a better, faster decision to avoid an accident. 

Q. What are some best practices for headlight maintenance?

First, you want to make sure you are replacing the headlights before they burn out. All too often, vehicles with a burned-out headlight or obviously dim headlights can be found traveling on dark roads, posing a risk to both the driver and others on the road. With one headlight out, drivers are essentially seeing half as well as they potentially could. If a vehicle owner cannot remember the last time headlights were changed, it may be time for replacements. Headlights dim over time and both bulbs are on the same amount of time. If one bulb burns out, you can assume the other bulb isn’t too far behind since they were made to the same specifications.

That brings us to my next point: Always replace in pairs. It’s very important to replace headlights in sets of two. Since headlights dim over their lifetime, a new bulb paired with an old bulb will create an uneven field of vision, which can be a major distraction on the road for both drivers and oncoming traffic.

Remember to clean your vehicle’s headlights and brake lights regularly, such as when filling up at the gas station, and, during the winter, be sure to clean off any snow on your front headlights and brake lights.

Q. Should drivers consider buying a headlight restoration kit?

The average age of vehicles on the road today is more than 11 years old. Millions of these vehicles have faded, cloudy plastic headlight lenses. This cloudiness, caused by degradation from the sun’s bright rays, reduces and diffuses the light going through the lenses, making it difficult to see when driving in the dark. Consider DIY clean headlight restoration kits that restore clarity and remove the hazy yellow appearance on headlight lenses. As a differentiator, Sylvania’s kits provide a UV Block Clear Coat, which protects headlights from future UV ray damage, the No. 1 reason headlights become cloudy. A good headlight restoration kit can restore a headlight to almost new condition, getting back the two-thirds of the light that is lost when a head light is cloudy.

Q. Do you have any tips to make bulb installation easier? 

Installation varies by vehicle. Sylvania Automotive Lighting and the CarCareKiosk have created step-by-step tutorial videos for various car makes and models on the road today, so leverage online videos when installing headlights yourself.

Remember to replace both high and low headlight beams at the same time. All headlights dim over time, so be sure to replace in pairs to avoid uneven lighting, which is a major distraction to other drivers on the road.

And, of course, stay safe. Wear safety glasses and gloves during installation. Be sure to handle the headlight properly – never touch the bulb itself; always handle the lighting by the base.

Learn more about AAA’s automotive services

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