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When it comes to car maintenance, your headlights are probably at the bottom of your to-do list. But they shouldn’t be. The less light your headlights emit, the less you can see while driving at night. This is dangerous, so keeping your headlights clean should be a top priority. Here’s how you can do this. 

When to clean your headlights

Knowing when to clean your headlights is fortunately very easy compared to other routine maintenance tasks. Look at your actual headlights, and if they’re yellowed over, it’s time to clean them. When you turn on your headlights, if the light is hazy or dim, then it’s time to clean them.

That said, it’s important to know whether you need to clean your headlights or if there’s another problem causing them to be foggy. For example, if your headlights are filling with water, then you have a different problem on your hands.

Just to be clear though, using water and a rag won’t properly clean your headlights. You’ll likely need a specialty headlight cleaner kit. This is what Popular Mechanics has to say about the various cleaner kits available. 

The products

The cheapest solution offered by many DIY places involves toothpaste to clean your headlights. Popular Mechanics didn’t get much success with this option though, so going for a specialty cleaning kit may be your best bet.

The best product tested by Popular Mechanics was the Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit. The test car’s headlights were significantly clearer after using this kit. Sylvania also claims your car’s headlights will be clean forever with this kit. At $20, it’s a bargain. 

The cheapest product was the Turtle Wax Headlight Lens Restorer Kit. Popular Mechanics didn’t get impressive results compared to the Sylvania kit, but it was significantly cheaper. At a little over $6, Popular Mechanics considered this Turtle Wax kit the best value of all the tested kits.

The easiest product to use was the Mother’s NuLens Headlight Renewal Kit, which comes with mechanical tools to speed up the process. Every other kit Popular Mechanics tested required elbow grease to clean up the headlights, but not Mother’s NuLens kit. It costs $20 though, and the cleaning it gave wasn’t better or worse than the other kits.

What you need and future-proofing 

Popular Mechanics stated that if your headlights are severely hazy, then the kits tested won’t work. However, if your headlights are only starting to yellow, then you won’t need to buy a fancier, more expensive product. The cheaper options, like the Turtle Wax kit, worked fine given the prices. Of course, if you plan to keep your car for a long time, then investing in a proper headlight cleaning kit is your best bet. 

For example, some of the more expensive products, like the Sylvania kit, include headlight protection that’ll keep them preserved from future damage. However, like rust on a car, your headlights will eventually be too hazy to clean. Eventually, you’ll have to replace your headlights, but with proper cleaning, you won’t have to do so for a long time.