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How to Clean Oxidized Headlights

Other than diminishing the beautiful aesthetics of your car, driving with cloudy headlights is dangerous.

For many car owners, when the headlights start to haze over also known as oxidation, then that signals the need of buying a new set of headlights. However, this assumption isn’t only false but it’s quite expensive.

With the right set of tools and some little know-how, you can easily get those headlights looking new again.

Below is a DIY guide on how to clean oxidized headlights.

Why do Headlights Oxidize?

This problem only affects cars that have headlights made of polycarbonate plastic. Therefore if you own a classic or a car manufactured before the 1980s then this isn’t an issue you have to worry about.

During the mentioned period, a lot of car manufacturers’ decided to switch from glass to plastic headlights. The main reason for this was because plastic can handle harsh road conditions without breaking.

The only downside to this switch was that plastic doesn’t work well with the sun. A temporary fix to this was coating the lenses with a UV protective film that unfortunately is destroyed over time with UV rays, leading to oxidizing of the plastic.

You should also note that oxidation of the headlights can occur on either the inside or outside. Now the above process and cleaning guide below is mainly focused on oxidation occurring outside the headlights.

Should you find yourself dealing with oxidation on the inside due to the entrance of moisture inside the headlight, then you need to get it repaired or replaced by a professional.

Why You Should Repair Oxidized Headlights?

Having fully understood the cause of oxidation in headlights and how it came to be, you are probably wondering why you should repair it. After all, the lights are working just fine. Aren’t they?

Well, having cloudy headlights does more than making your car look terrible, it’s not safe. After they become oxidized, that part of the car becomes defective.

Light won’t be able to fully pass through and this can make driving at night a challenge. And should you ignore the oxidation, it gets worse and your visibility will be limited significantly.

This, therefore, calls for repair of your headlights.

Tools You Will Need

How to Clean Oxidized Headlights

After gathering all the above tools, it’s time to get your hands dirty.

1. Start off By Cleaning the Headlights

Before anything else, it is essential that you thoroughly clean the headlights. At times, grime can also be responsible for making them look cloudy. Use soap and water to remove small bits of stones and chemicals that might have accumulated on the headlights. Be very gentle to avoid scratching the plastic.

2. Use Masking Tape to Cover Points Surrounding the Headlights

The second step requires you to use a clean rag to give the headlights a thorough rub down. Not unless you have the time to wait for the water to dry by itself. Then cover the surrounding area with masking tape. This will safeguard your paint job for the steps below.

3. Apply Toothpaste

The reason we recommend you put on a pair of waterproof gloves is because toothpaste can be painful when it comes into contact with chapped skin, or if you have sensitive hands. You will need to take a soft cloth, wet it, and apply some toothpaste on it.

4. Clean the Surface of the Headlight

With the toothpaste filled cloth, rub the surface of the headlight. Do this as many times as possible till you think the headlight is crystal clear. Wash off the toothpaste with water until it is all removed. If the results are not satisfactory, you might want to repeat the process especially if your headlights were heavily clouded.

5. Apply Wax or UV Protector

Dry the headlights with a clean cloth and protect it from UV rays by applying a UV protector or your favorite car wax. Also, when waxing your car, never forget about applying it to your headlights. This will prevent it from being oxidized in the future.

Bottom Line

If you have been driving around with oxidized headlights, contemplating about buying new ones, you can put that idea on hold. By following the above steps, you are going to notice a significant improvement.

Toothpaste contains mild abrasive and does an excellent job. However, if the headlights are too cloudy, then you should consider a glass cleaner that contains more abrasive contents.

Finally, if the above isn’t successful, take it to your mechanic and let the professionals work their magic.

You can check out some of our other guides here.

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