The first vehicle that used the world’s first electric headlamp – the Alas, was introduced back in 1898. Although it was the first of its kind, it didn’t enjoy much success. All sorts of changes and upgrades in headlight technology happened since then and it wasn’t until the 1930s that a headlamp design was made mandatory for all vehicles. The sealed beam headlight was the first to offer not only better efficiency but safety too. 30 years later, a different type of headlight was introduced which became a universal standard – halogen headlights. These were much like sealed beam lights but they used a different type of filament which provided a better glow. HID or Xenon lights became popular in the 1990s which were then followed by LED lights. The latest technological advancement in auto headlights are Halo and laser headlights which are still not as common as some other types of but are slowly heading towards popularity.
Types of Headlights
Sealed beam lights (also known as incandescent) use a tungsten filament placed in vacuum. Incandescent headlights are the oldest type which is why people today use them to retrofit their older car models. This type of headlights is not only the least efficient but they also produce the weakest light source.
Halogen car headlights are what replaced incandescent lights. Instead of vacuum, these lights use halogen gas which keeps the filament inside from thinning and breaking. This type of gas also reduces the blackening inside the bulb making halogen lights last longer than incandescent and they also provide more light.
Also known as HID (High Intensity Discharge) lights which are known to generate light with the help of two electrodes and xenon gas. These lights produce a very bright light and a lot less heat than halogen auto headlights.
LEDs are getting adopted by more and more vehicles because of their multiple advantages. Not only are LEDs more efficient than all of the above types of headlights they are also a lot brighter and easy to retrofit too. Whilst they are a more expensive upgrade LEDs last a lot longer than any other type of headlight assembly.
How to Clean Car Headlights
No matter how long lasting a headlight is, it will eventually become foggy or have a yellowish tint to it. This is where cleaning your car headlights is going to bring back their original light through and make them work the same way again. Using toothpaste to do this is extremely easy as all you need to do is brush your headlight with some and then just rinse it off.
Make sure to wipe the headlight before applying toothpaste and to brush in the toothpaste using small circular movements for 5 to 10 minutes. Use warm water to remove toothpaste residue and repeat the whole process if there are no visible results the first time.
- This method can be quite effective too but remember that it is risky as well since you can damage the headlights to a point of no return. First, you need to wet the headlight and a 400-grit sandpaper with warm water. Begin sanding in circles with light pressure ensuring both the headlight and sandpaper are wet. When you have the whole headlight sanded, finish using the 400-grit sandpaper by sanding in horizontal lines.
- Next, sand the headlight with a 600-grit sandpaper the same way you did with the 400-grit one. Do not sand in horizontal lines once you’re done, just wash the headlight off with clean water. Follow that up by sanding the headlight with 2000-grit sandpaper in a circular motion and when you’re done remove all the dirt from it, re-sand it if needed and clean the headlight. When you have it all dried off, put some protective wax on it.
Using a headlight restoration kit is probably the easiest and most effective way to clean your headlights. You need to follow the instructions provided with the kit but also make sure to be cautions when executing every step. These kits usually do involve sanding the headlights which is why you need to take your time when going through each step.
Using a bug spray is not a long-term solution however it is definitely quick and easy one to execute. This solution is quite similar if not the same as the toothpaste method. Spray some of the solution on a towel and apply it onto the headlight. The DEET in the spray will start melting the outer layer of the plastic. Then rinse the bug spray with clean water carefully so that you don’t get some of it on your car. The residue can damage your car’s paint.
Soda & Vinegar
If you have some baking soda and vinegar at home, you can easily make use of them to clean up your headlights. You can mix them together or rub them separately on the headlight with a toothbrush or a microfiber cloth. Just like the above-mentioned steps with the toothpaste, rinse and then repeat the same process to get better results. In the end, when the headlights have dried, apply a layer of waxing compound and buff it out from the lens.