Night driving can become bothersome with age, and your car isn’t doing you any favors. Halogen headlight bulbs dim over time, but even with a fresh set there could still be a problem. The plastic lens covering the headlights can develop a cloudy, foggy appearance. Besides the unsightly appearance, it’s a legitimate safety issue.
You could try swapping them with assemblies from a salvage yard, but they’re most likely just as bad in appearance. And the price of new replacements can easily become cost-prohibitive. For a lot of folks, the ideal compromise is a comparatively inexpensive headlight cleaner system that uses abrasives to remove oxidation from the lens surface. Here’s a quick overview to help you decide the kind that’s best for your car.
With tools. You’ll find a number of brand-name headlight cleaners that call for treatment by hand, and others that employ tools like an electric drill for buffing. If that sounds a little daunting, it shouldn’t be. In preparation you will mask around edges to protect against contact with paint or other trim, and that’s a wise step with any headlight cleaner product. With this approach you can work faster through seriously clouded lenses and have consistent application of the cleaner. Sharply-curved areas and small corners can prove a challenge, though.
By hand. Some people shy away from power devices more complex than a light switch, and that’s okay. Others may simply not own an electric drill or have parking close enough to an outlet. Whatever the case, there are a number of headlight cleaners that call for good old-fashioned elbow grease to complete the steps. With these you might find you can treat light oxidation more gently, as well as have better access in tight corners. Still, you do have to maintain consistent effort across all sections of both lenses for best results.
All-in-one. If a headlight cleaner for your car is a compromise versus new lenses, all-in-one products are a compromise of the compromise. These cleaners emphasize quick results without going through all the steps called for by other products. They’re not necessarily wrong in their claims or wrong for your needs, but you’ll probably find this kind is best when your car has only just begun to show fogginess on its headlights.