Make dangerously dim headlights clear again

You might not think much about your car's headlights until they burn out or appear less bright as your car gets older. Headlights are an important safety feature and they need maintenance just like the rest of your car.

When Consumer Reports technicians tests headlights, they look at whether the low and high beams that provide visibility straight ahead are bright enough. They also check to see whether headlights cause glare to oncoming drivers or to cars that drivers are following.

But if your car isn’t new, you may notice that your headlights aren’t in tip-top shape. Sun and the UV exposure can cause the plastic coating to become clouded or yellowed, which will cause them to give off far less light than they did when you first bought the car. And you may find that cars are more susceptible to this clouding if they’re in an area where there’s a lot of sun.

So what can you do? You can replace the headlights, but it can be expensive. It could cost more than $200 per headlight for certain cars.

A less expensive but temporary fix is to use a headlight restoration kit. It has an abrasive to scrub the clouding off the lens. A restoration kit restores brightness for about a year and most cost less than $25.

Consumer Reports applied a restoration product. It took only about 15 minutes  and the results were illuminating. Consumer Reports says that improved lighting will make you a whole lot safer on the road. Before using a restoration kit, it's a good idea to watch the manufacturer's instructional videos
online if available. If the lenses are clear but the lights appear to be dimmer than they used to be, Consumer Reports says you may just need new bulbs. All bulbs dim over time and should be replaced after a few years.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2019 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumerreports.org.

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