headlights in a tunnel

Should You Replace Your Headlights or Restore them?

Assuring a vehicle is safe to drive requires proper maintenance. An essential component to safe driving, especially at night, is properly functioning headlights. Most people consider headlight maintenance to comprise solely of replacing dim or burnt out light bulbs. Depending on the type of vehicle and headlight light bulb required there are varied approximate lifespans (i.e. the lifespan of halogen headlight light bulbs range from between five hundred to one thousand hours). Checking proper functioning of a vehicles headlights regularly is helpful, as it is best to replace the headlight light bulbs prior to them burning out. While headlight light bulbs do have a finite lifespan, some situations simply warrant restoring headlights by focusing on cleaning up foggy headlight lenses. In some cases, replacing headlight light bulbs in addition to restoring headlight lenses can be the best method for assuring proper functioning and brightness. There is obviously a price difference between restoring headlight lenses and replacing headlight lenses. In terms of replacing or restoring headlights, it is also important to take into consideration the length of time an individual plans on keeping the vehicle.

When to Restore

Much like any part of a vehicle, as it ages so do its features, including its headlight lenses. The lenses that protect the headlight light bulbs are made of plastic and have the propensity to become hazy and cloudy over time. This, in turn, results in a reduced ability to properly illuminate the road. Typically cars that are parked primarily outside increase the speed of headlight deterioration, as sunlight, UV rays, air pollution, and oxidation contribute to the aging process. Usually headlight lenses are not replaced unless they are damaged in an accident, but they should be restored regularly as a means to avoid driving with low-visibility. Clouded lenses that are not restored will continue to reduce headlight effectiveness. If headlight lenses are cloudy is it usually because the plastic itself has become discolored. This makes restoring headlight lenses a rather challenging maintenance repair to successfully complete without the help of a mechanic. If a concern arises as to the reason behind malfunctioning headlights, it may be best to consult a mechanic, as they will be able to pinpoint the exact culprit and assist in completing the repair. 

When to Replace 

Replacing the headlight light bulbs is not necessarily a difficult maintenance task, depending on the vehicle, and will likely be required at some point for most vehicles. A vehicle will require replacing light bulbs if one or both have burnt out. It is common practice to replace the set of headlight light bulbs at the same time, as if one of the bulbs is in need of replacing the other will not be close behind. Replacing both headlights at the same time also helps to keep track of when they will need to be replaced in the future. Replacing deteriorated headlight lenses should be done if a restoration of them is insufficient. Headlight lenses that are difficult to clearly see the headlight bulb through, are cloudy, and/ or appear yellowed should be serviced as soon as possible. Headlight lenses are not as easily replaced as headlight light bulbs because they are permanent fixtures of a vehicle. Replacing headlight lenses may seem light a straightforward process, but doing this repair improperly can result in loose fitting lenses, which can lead to moisture seeping into the headlight housing and/ or corrode electrical connections. If a vehicle is in need of a headlight lens replacement it is best to have a mechanic complete the repair. While regularly wiping headlight lenses will not shield it from natural deterioration from being exposed to the elements, it can help slow the process. After replacing headlight bulbs and/ or headlight lenses, it is essential to keep headlights clean, and have them serviced as frequently as is needed. Taking the steps to make sure a vehicle’s headlights are adequately functioning is of utmost importance to staying safe while driving.  

Further Information

As an automotive parts and supply shop with decades of experience we have access to extensive inventory. Northstar Automotive is staffed with incredibly knowledgeable professionals, dedicated to provide topnotch service to all its customers. Let us help you make sure you are equipped with everything you need to ensure all of your vehicles are in excellent shape. Please feel free to contact one of our sales associates for more information. We can be reached through our website’s contact us page. We look forward to connecting and providing you with outstanding assistance.

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