Foggy headlights on a Toyota Camry.

Solving headlight problems: headlight replacement vs restoration

In Uncategorized by HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire

Do your car headlights have a foggy look to them?

You or someone you know may have noticed it when approaching your vehicle, or an auto repair shop might have said something during a recent visit. 

Hazy headlights are a result of the clear coating eventually wearing off.

They could cause a car to fail the Virginia State Inspection and – more importantly – impact a driver’s safety.

There are a couple ways that the problem can be addressed.

About headlight restoration

A temporary solution to foggy headlights is headlight restoration.

Through this process, sandpaper is used to take off the rest of the clear coat and make the surface smooth. Then, a new coat is put on.

Hazy headlights on a Mazda MX-5.
Hazy headlights on Mazda MX-5

Headlight restoration helps lights become clearer and typically lasts about a year.

It may be the right choice if you aren’t planning to keep the vehicle for much longer or you aren’t ready to replace the headlights.

Our Woodbridge auto repair shop offers headlight restoration and replacement.

Problems that can lead to headlight replacement

Changing the headlights is the long term option when you have hazy headlights or if your vehicle is experiencing other headlight problems.

If one or both headlights aren’t turning on at all, a technician might need to take a deeper look at what’s going on.

Getting the lights to work the way they were designed could lead to headlight replacement. 

There might be bad wires or cracks have developed, possibly impacting the aiming pattern. A headlight aligner machine can be used to check the candlepower and direction. 

Spider cracks on a Toyota Corolla headlight.
Spider cracks on a Toyota Corolla headlight

This article we wrote talks more about aiming and other items that are checked during the Virginia State Inspection.

As we look at a vehicle, we want to ensure that the lights are aligned right. For many cases, the headlight assembly just needs to be adjusted. If the issue lies with the assembly itself and the bulb won’t sit quite right, you will need to replace the assembly.

Other internal problems also occur sometimes. Contacts that connect with plastic connectors may corrode and melt over time.

Depending on the type of car you have, it might have LED or HID headlights. When replacing the light bulb, a new headlight assembly may need to be installed.

When changing headlights

Headlights typically last somewhere around 5 and 10 years. Where you drive and how they are made will impact the lifespan.

When it comes time to replace them, make sure you use high quality headlights that will last you as long as possible.

The ones being installed should also come with an SAE stamp. Cheap headlights may not have one or the numbers that come with it.

Headlights can only be used on the road – and pass the Virginia Safety Inspection – if the correct markings are present.

At the end of the day, safety is the main priority.

It’s important that your car lights are working correctly so you can see and be seen while driving at night and in inclement weather.

If you notice something wrong, schedule an appointment with an automotive professional and have them look into it.

HomeTowne Auto Repair & Tire is an authorized Michelin and BFGoodrich tire dealer located near Dumfries, Virginia. Automotive repair services are performed on all makes and models, including oil changes, brakes, alignments, inspections, and computer engine diagnostics.