Cloudy headlights result in diminished visibility, that's a proven fact. Often, this cloudiness is caused by hazing of the plastic (or polycarbonate) lense of the headlamp. This hazing is the result of harmful environmental effects over a period of time, and with the average age of cars on the road being 10 years, you can see how this is a growing problem.
It's very important to restore headlights to their full factory lumen output. However, many products have flooded the market addressing this issue and choosing one is a real problem for the consumer.
Here's a quick run down on the different types of restoration methods available and the results you can expect from each method.
- Headlight Replacement - This is almost guaranteed to fix the issue and should be used if your current headlights have any cracks, leaks, or any evidence of a broken seal. Headlight replacement costs begin at $200 and go up from there.
- Drill mounted polishing kits - This method removes scratches, and minor chips in the headlamp lense. If you are handy with drills and good at sanding, this may be the way you want to go. These kits require two stages of sanding, wet first and then dry, and the kits contain special pads for each sanding process. Wet and dry sanding continues until the clouded surface of the lense is smooth and the dulled layer is removed. Now polishing begins. Begin with a drill equipped with a pad used for polishing and finally follow up with a pad for buffing. These pads will be in the kit. The result will be a clear lense that easily allows light through. Cautions for using this type of kit include protecting your vehicle's paint by taping before beginning the restoration and taking extreme care in using a power drill around water.
- Corrosion remover kits - These kits start with a spray that removes surface corrosion by softening it. Once applied the spray breaks down any surface grime so that it is removed in the hand sanding process. The sanding requires 3 stages with progressively finer sanding paper (supplied in kits) until the lense is clear. The final step is to coat the lense with a UV clear coat (also included) that will prolong the life of the newly restored headlamp. Cautions for this method include using protective gloves and a mask along with thorough taping to protect painted and chrome finishes.
- Diamond polishing systems - A solution containing diamond rouge is applied using a pad supplied with these kits. Because of the abrasiveness of the diamond solution, the lense can be polished quickly to remove surface corrosion and grime. The solution is removed with a clean, dry towel and the lense can be inspected to see if any further application of the diamond rouge is needed. After the desired result is achieved, a protective polymer is applied to the lense to keep it clear longer. There are no cautions for this method as it doesn't require power tools, taping or sanding.
No matter which method you choose to use, you can expect the results to last for about two years. During those two years though, you will be experiencing better visibility and your car's appearance will be greatly improved. It is also important to perform this maintenance work before offering your car for resale as it may increase the value of your car.
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