Yellow headlights do more than simply make your headlights appear more yellow while you are driving. They make it harder for you to see at night. Properly functioning headlights are an important part of automotive safety. The NHTSA says that you are more likely to get in an accident at night as a result of visibility problems. With that in mind, what is the best way to fix your headlights?
There are many products claiming to have a cure for yellowed headlights, but most of them are nonsense. There are two ways to fix the problem on your own, and a third that can be performed by an auto shop. We will discuss these solutions now.
Sanding and Buffing:
The majority of automotive stores sell rubbing compounds that claim to clean yellow headlights. The good news is that they certainly can help, and the are also cheap. One of the brands available sells them for only six dollars. Some come with a buffing pad that can be hooked up to your drill.
Unfortunately, when you use this method you will need to buff your headlights every few weeks or a bare minimum of once a month. The problem with this method is that while it does remove the dust and grime that builds up in the lens and causes the headlights to yellow, it does not seal the coating that came with the headlight.
This coating is the root cause of yellowing headlights. As time passes, it becomes worn down. This allows dirt to accumulate. The coating starts to act like fly paper that attracts dirt. Some kits ask you to sand the surface down before buffing. This helps to reduce the flypaper effect, but depending on several influences it may still only work for a couple months.
Another type of kit that is offered asks you to clean the lens and then apply a clear sealant. This offers some of the best results. There are downfalls, however. First, headlights are made of plastic, which sealants do not naturally attach to. After a while, it can begin to peel off. The sealant itself can also yellow as well.
The most effective option is the have the headlights professionally refinished with a chemically hardened clear coat. Auto shops have been doing this for several years. They prepare the plastic with specialized chemicals that help it adhere to the clear coat more effectively. The cost of this procedure varies, but it usually costs about sixty or seventy dollars and takes only an hour or two. The quality of the materials used is not available over the counter.
Refinishing is the best option of the three available. While it may cost more upfront, it is a permanent solution (or at least a solution that will last several years). If you were to seal or buff over and over on your own you would not only be wasting time but money, or you might eventually give up and risk your safety.