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What Causes Foggy Headlights?

If the road before you isn’t properly illuminated by your car’s headlights, it may be because your lamps have become clouded by some common culprits. Here are three typical causes of headlight fogginess, along with what you can do to watch out for this problem and stop it before it worsens.

Oxidation From Micro Cracks

Most acrylic headlights have a clear topcoat applied when manufactured to protect them from yellowing, or oxidizing, when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Over time, that coating can develop microscopic cracks that allow UV light to penetrate.

Although you can’t avoid driving in sunlight, being mindful of where you park your car can limit the amount of UV exposure your headlamps receive. If you have a garage or covered space at home you should always park your car there, and when out and about look for a spot in the shade. Limiting your headlights’ time in the sun will slow the oxidation process and keep your lamps in good shape for a longer amount of time.

Water Vapor From Open Seals

Although headlights are designed with watertight seals, it’s possible for the seals to loosen due to climate and road conditions. Once there’s an opening, you may experience condensation in headlight that fogs up the inside of the lens and can’t easily be wiped away.

One thing to try if you have minor condensation is to locate the lamp’s housing vent. It might be blocked, which prevents it from preventing moisture build-up. Blowing out the vent with compressed air may remove the blockage and decrease condensation.

Although you may not be able to prevent loosened or cracked seals, addressing the problem as soon as it happens will allow you to get your lights back in safe working order. Make it a habit to visibly inspect your headlights for telltale water vapor after you’ve driven in the rain or had your car washed, and if you notice anything amiss it may be time to repair or replace the seal.

Dirt and Debris From the Road

Both the protective coatings on your headlights and the seals surrounding them can incur damage from the dirt and dust they’re exposed to on each drive you take. Flying debris can give a real beating to the topcoat and even scratch and pit the headlight itself. These nicks add to the foggy appearance of your lights.

If you regularly cruise around in especially dirty conditions like off-road trails or construction zones, you can protect your vehicle’s beams by installing headlight covers. Regardless of the type of driving that’s causing problems, giving your headlights a bit of extra care when you wash your car can clean away built-up grime and debris. A good soaping, wiping, and rinsing with a bit of elbow grease will help, and polishing your headlights regularly is a pro tip that can keep your lamps looking sharp. Simple toothpaste or a baking soda and vinegar solution usually does the trick!

Knowing what causes foggy headlights and how to combat the problem can make each nighttime drive you take safer. When it’s time to replace any of your car’s parts, whether you need a 2014 GMC Sierra headlight bulb or an entire headlight replacement for whichever vehicle you drive, visit the website or local outlet of a trusted auto parts supplier to ensure you’re getting top-quality products.

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