dim head lights

On average, nine out of every 10 cars on the road currently has dim, dirty, or yellowed head lights.

These head light issues have a significant impact on your vision while driving. In fact, they can decrease light output by up to 95 percent!

Is your car one of the ones with dim head lights? If so, it’s time to get those fixed!

The good news is that you can fix your head lights yourself without too much trouble.

Listed below are seven tips that will help you fix your dim head lights in no time at all.

Why Head Light Restoration Matters

Head light restoration is an easy DIY auto maintenance practice (one of the few that just about anyone can handle from home).

It may be easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. Clear, well-functioning head lights matter for several reasons, including the following:

  • Increased visibility while driving
  • Increased safety while driving
  • Maintain the value of your car overall
  • Maintain optimal performance and functionality
  • Enhanced vehicle appearance

When you restore your head lights and maintain them well, you also don’t have to spend money replacing the head light (or paying someone to replace it for you). This is great news for you and your bank account.

How to Fix Dim Head Lights

Okay, you can see that it’s important to maintain your head lights. How do you actually do this, though?

There are a lot of steps you can take to keep your head lights clean and functioning properly, including the following:

1. Look for Signs of Moisture

The first step to restoring dim head lights is to check for signs of moisture.

Remove the head light and look to see if there is condensation present on the inside. If there is, that’s a sign that the problem is coming from inside the light.

If there’s moisture in the headlights, check to see if the vents are blocked. If they are blocked, this can lead to persistent moisture and fogging headlights.

Try spraying some compressed air into the vents to clear them out and keep the headlight dry.

2. Clean and Polish First

If your head lights are dirty, be sure to clean and polish them. Avoid using household glass cleaners on your headlights. These cleaners contain ammonia, which can cause your head lights to turn yellow.

Instead, use warm soapy water to clean the head lights thoroughly.

You can also polish them afterward using headlight polish or even toothpaste — yes, toothpaste is actually great for cleaning and polishing head lights!

Either of these substances will help to clear away surface buildup that won’t come off with just soap and water.

3. Sand if Necessary

If, after you’ve cleaned and polished your headlights, they’re still dimmer than you’d like, you may need to sand them. Sanding helps to get rid of additional buildup and debris. 

Before you start sanding your head lights, be sure to soak the sandpaper in water first. This softens that sandpaper and ensures it won’t damage the headlights. Sand in straight lines, rather than circles. 

Once you’ve finished sanding your headlights, wipe them off with a clean towel. Reusing old towels could end up damaging the head light’s surface.

4. Use a Head Light Deoxidizer

In addition to cleaning, polishing, and sanding, you may also need to use a head light deoxidizer.

A head light deoxidizer helps to eliminate oxidative damage caused by pollutants, UV rays, and debris.

A head light deoxidizer will get rid of haziness and discoloration. It will increase your night vision, too, and help your head lights to look as good as new.

5. Use a Rubbing Compound and Buffer

Once you’ve sanded your head lights, you may want to use a rubbing compound ad buffer on them as well.

Apply the rubbing compound to the head lights and let it sit until they start to haze. Then, use the buffing pad to buff away at them until they are clear again.

As you buff, use some automotive masking tape to protect the areas around the headlights from accidental damage. 

6. Replace the Lightbulb

Cleaning and restoring your head lights is a good practice if you want to improve their brightness and ensure you can see properly while you’re driving.

Don’t get so caught up on head light restoration, though, that you forget the basics.

Remember to check to see if the lightbulb has become dim or has burned out altogether. If the lightbulb is the problem (or seems to be contributing to the problem), replace it as soon as possible.

You should be able to handle the lightbulb replacement on your own without any problems — it’s a pretty straightforward process. You can also take your car to a mechanic if you feel that you need some extra help or simply don’t want to replace the bulb yourself. Since you are replacing it anyway, you may want to ask your mechanic or auto parts person about LED lights, since they can be brighter than traditional bulbs.

7. Check Your Alternator Output

Finally, you may want to check your alternator output as well.

Use a digital multimeter to check and see if your dim head lights are the result of inadequate power. Inadequate power could stem from a problem with your alternator or your automatic voltage regulator.

Compare the alternator output to your car’s reference manual to check and see if your lights and other systems are receiving sufficient power.

If they’re not, you’ll know that the issue with the head lights goes beyond them just being a bit dirty or dealing with a burned out lightbulb. 

Looking for More Car Repair Tips?

Congratulations! You now know how to fix dim head lights and ensure maximum visibility when you’re out on the road.

Do you want to learn other strategies for maintaining your car?

Remember, regular maintenance is essential if you want to extend your car’s lifespan and avoid having to spend a lot of money on expensive repairs.

If you want to learn more about car maintenance, we’ve got lots of articles on our blog that will teach you the basics and beyond.

Start by checking out this article on preventative maintenance tips that every driver should know.