Hazy headlight on Chevy Equinox.

Headlight restoration and replacement: What is the right option?

In Headlamps by Steves Auto Repair and Tire

It’s that time of the year where darkness falls at about 5 p.m. The roads are flooded with headlights as numerous commuters venture home and to post work activities.

With the longer nights of late fall and winter setting in, it’s very important to make sure that your car’s lights function correctly.

This includes the headlights, brake lights, reverse lights and tag lights.

By confirming they’re in good working order, you improve your ability to see. This is necessary even more so if you’re traveling on dark, windy roads where deer are more prevalent.

Taking care of any malfunctioning lights also ensures you’re visible to others, which prevents avoidable accidents.

Headlight restoration

Sometimes, car lights simply need to become clearer.

Over a period of time, a headlight’s clear coat fades, giving a foggy appearance.

Headlight restoration on a Honda.This may not seem to be a big deal, but it could cause the vehicle to fail the Virginia Safety Inspection. Headlights that are too hazy might mess up the pattern of the beam.

If you’re just trying to get through the state inspection, headlight restoration may be the right option for you. This service is offered at our Woodbridge auto repair shop. 

Certain products can be used to clear up hazy headlights for a short period of time.

Our automotive technicians perform headlight restoration by removing the old clear coat on the lens using different levels of sandpaper. A clear coat is added once there is a smooth finish.

This method of restoring headlights could improve their clarity for a year or longer.

Headlight replacement

Headlight restoration can be a helpful and cost-effective service that drivers may benefit from. However, it’s a temporary solution.

In the long run, you’re better off replacing the headlights. And, in some cases, you might not have a choice.

Headlight assembly.

Eventually, cracks can develop in the lights, wires go bad, and new assemblies need to be installed.

As they get older, the plastic connectors can collect moisture, and the contacts where you plug them in will corrode. When you get a bad power or bad ground, too much heat will be generated. This can lead to the contact melting off the headlight.

Some of the headlights on today’s vehicles are LED and HID. Instead of changing the bulb, you need to replace the entire assembly.

Other problems include the lights becoming too dim from daily use or not aligning correctly.

Headlights should last at least 5 to 10 years, but it depends on what they’re made out of and driving conditions. For example, if you live at the beach, the salty air will sandblast the headlights and shorten the lifespan. 

To be allowed on the road, headlights must have an SAE stamp. This usually comes with a number behind it. Sometimes, the cheap headlights won’t have approval numbers on them. So, if you go on for an inspection and the inspector sees an aftermarket headlight assembly without SAE markings, the vehicle would fail state inspection.

Remember, cheap doesn’t alway mean good. You want to make sure you have a high quality lens so it lasts.

Steve’s Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Goodyear tire dealer located near Dale City, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including BMW and Mercedes. Services include oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.