We rely on properly working headlights to navigate dark roads at night. Hit the road with fuzzy headlights and you might not be able to see all that well. Fuzzy headlights prevent the full amount of light emanating from bulbs to reach the road.
So what causes this phenomena? In the old days, fuzzy headlights were often the result of poorly made incandescent bulbs that could gradually die out before completely failing. What gives us trouble today are the plastic lenses that replaced the better glass lenses.
You can tell you have fuzzy headlights by looking at them from outside the car. A fuzzy headlight does not look crisp and clear. It might even look a bit off-color. The condition is almost always the result of cloudy lenses.
There are a number of things that contribute to lens clouding. The first is road dirt and debris. Just about anything that gets kicked up can embed itself in plastic lenses. We’re talking the grit from tractor-trailers, the remains of insects that found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, asphalt from freshly paved roads, and so on.
Another thing that contributes to clouding is sunlight. Direct sunlight causes polycarbonate lenses to oxidize. It’s very similar to the process that causes a thin white film to build up on aluminum siding. Oxidation may protect the plastic underneath, but it also contributes to fuzzy headlights.
Fuzzy headlights might be annoying, but they aren’t the end of the world. Cloudiness can easily be polished out after a thorough washing and drying. You can buy commercial polishing products or use a household product like toothpaste. If you don’t feel like doing the work yourself, Ron’s Complete Auto Body can do it for you at a reasonable price.