Older Car Headlight Not As Bright And Potentially Dangerous

December 13, 2018

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An alarming new report is out from the American Automobile Association (AAA) says older vehicles headlights are not as bright as they once were, causing you to see less and be seen harder at night. Over time, the plastic coating on headlights can become so clouded or yellowed that they give off only 20% of the light they had when you first bought the car, putting drivers and passengers at risk. The auto safety group studied the impact that deterioration can have on the amount of light a headlight produces as sunlight breaks down protective plastic coatings on the plastic that covers headlights. Depending on where and how the vehicle is used, headlights can begin showing signs of deterioration in as little as three years to five years. Drivers need a minimum of 300 to 350 feet to see, react, and brake for something ahead when traveling at 60 mph. If the illumination drops to only 20 percent of where it started, that would let drivers see only 60 feet in front of their car. Headlight restoration kits can clear up the cloudiness. These products vary in price, ease of use, and effectiveness. Some require power tools, while others just need a fair bit of elbow grease. All take less than an hour to apply. Examine your headlight lenses closely before purchasing any of these restoration kits. If they appear clear, don't use a lens restoration product. They are abrasive and can easily damage lenses that don't need such severe restoration. In all cases even the best restoration kits generally last about a year, so re-applying will be necessary and eventually replacing the clouded plastic cover will be needed. Regularly clean your lenses with a household glass cleaner. Even a simple cleaning can make a big difference in how well you can see. If your plastic cover appears to be clear yet the lights appear to be dimmer than they used to be, you may need new bulbs. All bulbs dim over time and should be replaced after a few years. 

SOURCE: Consumer Reports

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