Over time your headlights can get cloudy, leaving them dim without you realising.
Foggy headlights can affect any driver, so if your lights might not be as bright as they were this could be why.
How headlights degrade
There are two ways that headlights degrade over time:
- Dimmer bulbs
- Discoloured headlight casing
It is important to figure out which part of your headlight is at fault before having them repaired.
Headlight bulb lifespan
Headlight bulbs dim due to wear and tear. The bulbs used in headlights typically last:
- Halogen: 500 – 1,000 hours
- Xenon: 10,000 hours
- LED: 30,000 hours
Headlight casing becoming cloudy
Headlight casings get cloudy or yellowed for several reasons:
Oxidisation: headlight lenses have a coating to prevent the acrylic from oxidising. Over time it wears off and ultraviolet light will turn it yellow.
Wear and tear: the coating can suffer scrapes and scratches and when this breaches the protective layer the casing looks cloudy.
Dirt: a layer of chemicals and dirt gathers on the headlight casings.
Water vapour: headlights have a seal that can lose integrity through wear and tear. When this happens, water can collect inside the casing, scattering the light.
When to replace or restore headlights
The highway code says that you must use your headlights when visibility is reduced, meaning when you can see less than 100 metres ahead. Headlights must be used during the hours of darkness: half an hour after sunset to half an hour before sunrise. If you still cannot see at these distances with the lights on then they might need attention.
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