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Foggy Headlights Clouding Your Drive?

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As we welcome the month of September and the autumn days ahead, it's time to say goodbye to the foggy headlights that summer brought! Even if you take terrific care of the outside of your vehicle, chances are you will experience the "foggy" headlights we all despise. 

 

Why do my headlights get "foggy" or "cloudy"? - Given that we are slowly coming out of those hot summer months, the sun's UV rays have been giving a solid beating to everyone's headlights. A chemical reaction occurs between exposed plastic covers and the sun's ultraviolet rays after time, mixed with outdoor particles and dust and boom, cloudy headlights. We can also blame water vapors for damaging your headlights. Most headlights come with a watertight sealant around them, but they can break down over time, leaving condensation to make its way into your headlights. Even more concerning than the aged look on your vehicle, foggy headlights dramatically impair the effectiveness of your car's actual bulb's lumen output, essentially risk your safety and others on the road. As more fog builds up, it becomes more difficult to see where you are going and other drivers to detect you. In short, foggy headlights need to be addressed as soon as possible.

 

At John's Automotive Care La Mesa, we wanted to provide some quick and easy tips for how to take care of your foggy headlights for our September blog! 

 

Toothpaste Hack

If the headlight fogginess hasn't become a significant issue, toothpaste may help clear the problem in the beginning stages. This is a commonly known tip & very popular due to its convenience and at-home care. 

Step 1: Get a nice glob 0f gel-free toothpaste and a clean textured cloth. Add a decent amount of paste to the fabric.

Step 2: Using a cloth, scrub in circular motions around the entire headlight.  

Step 3: Dampen the used cloth to get rid of any extra toothpaste with warm water.

Step 4: After a couple of moments, wipe down the headlights. If needed, repeat the process multiple times for the best results. 

 

Sandpaper Scrub

If the toothpaste isn't cutting in and cleaning the headlights well enough, it may need something more abrasive; cue the sandpaper! 

Step 1: First, clean your headlights with soap to obtain a clean base. Remember to get into the corners!

Step 2: Use masking tape to cover the edges of your hood and fenders so the body of your vehicle remains scratch-free. *This is an important step. 

Step 3: Wet the headlights with warm water and grab some abrasive sandpaper. Scrub down the lights in a horizontal motion for a maximum of 10 minutes. Be very careful not to hit the body of your vehicle while executing this step. Also, the sandpaper should be wet at all times to avoid permanently scratching the light. 

Step 4: Once you're through, wipe the headlights with a soft, clean cloth.

Step 5: Grab a standard car polish/wax and a microfiber cloth, polish the headlights for a few minutes, and you're good to go. 

 

WD-40 - A Temporary Fix

Our last trick before coming into an auto shop for professional cleaning would involve the notorious WD-40. Please note, this might not prove to be a suitable long-lasting solution for headlight restoration but will brighten things up in a pinch.

 

Step 1: Prep the headlight surfaces and clean them with soap and water. 

Step 2: Shake a can of WD-40 and spray onto the headlight lens, avoiding hitting unprotected car areas. 

Step 3: Carefully wash off the product after it sits for a moment with a clean rag. And make sure to wipe off all the products. 

(Remember to rely on WD-40 sparingly: depending on this oil product too often can blur or burn out the bulb of your headlights.)


If your headlights seem dim and heavy fog feels daunting to drive through, it's the indicator that work needs to be done. Take the time to get it inspected by bringing your car into John's Automotive Care. Ignoring a car malfunction could lead to dangerous accidents or costly repairs down the line. Our knowledgeable ASE-Certified auto mechanics team at John's Automotive Care has your back because our dedication to customers is unmatched. Give the professionals at John's Automotive Care, La Mesa, a call at (619) 461-3600 or schedule an online appointment today!

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