​How to take care of your headlights

We’ll be the first to admit that quality car headlights can cost quite a bit of money, which makes regular maintenance and care all the more important.

Without proper attention, over the years headlights can degrade in performance and looks – but it can be very simple to make sure that doesn’t happen. 15 minutes a couple of times a year will extend the life of your headlights by years.

Removing Discolouring of Headlights

Headlight Discoloured

Car headlights are often made of polycarbonate (which is a strong and affordable material) but it has one draw back. Over time, exposure to UV rays from the sun discolours the clear plastic and turns it a yellow, musty colour. It also appears cloudy, often disrupting the performance of the light itself.

There is a very easy and affordable way to clean headlights to prevent and remove the effects of UV rays. The answer is in your bathroom!

Toothpaste and a cloth is all you need. Yes, you read that right! Use toothpaste as a cleaning fluid for each headlight and rub generously until the headlights begin to clear. 

Reports are that pastes with Bicarbonate of Soda in them work better, but most should work just fine.

Ensuring a bright light

This one sounds biased – but we’re not out to make a quick buck! It is hard to tell when your headlight bulbs are not producing the light they once did. They reduce in brightness and quality over time, which makes it harder to notice.

So our suggestion is to replace your bulbs every 1-2 years, instead of waiting for them to stop working altogether.

In the end, if well-performing headlights are something you want, consider replacing the bulbs more often than you do now. Brand is also important, with companies like Osram leading the way in quality.

If you don’t mind some drop in performance over time, replace them when they blow!

Repairing cracked headlights

Headlights can crack for many reasons. The most common causes of stress cracks are slight impacts with other vehicles or hitting something in the air when travelling at high speed.

There are various resins on the market to temporarily patch them up, but I’m afraid they are most definitely temporary solutions. If your headlight is cracked, it needs replacing – bottom line.

Checking Headlights before an MOT

During an MOT, headlights are tested in a variety of ways, including for brightness and beam direction.

The UK’s Vehicle and Operater Services Agency (VOSA) have put together a great guide on how to test your headlights before your yearly checkup.

It includes home-made ways to test beam direction along with other issues to look out for and test. It’s available on the gov.uk website