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Faded Headlight Lenses

Article and photos by Don Stec

In the early stages fade on headlight lenses appears as a fogged lens. At its worse condition it is whitish and no longer clear.

I was walking past a row of cars at the mall when I noticed several parked cars that had faded headlight lenses. This is a very common problem today. I decided to count the faded headlight lenses in comparison to the clear lenses on my way to the store. I wanted to see the percentage of good headlights v/s faded headlights. I counted 13 cars in one row. Three had clear lenses, and 5 had lightly faded lenses. The last 5 had lenses completely faded and would have made night driving dangerous.

Out of 13 cars only 3 had lenses that worked properly. The 5 lightly faded lenses probably lost 10-15 percent of the light. The 5 badly faded lenses probably lost 50 percent of their light.

When a headlight lens fades, it does not allow as much light to penetrate the lens. and light to the road ahead is diminished. It also creates a distorted light because the prisms in the lens cannot direct the light to the roadway, making it difficult for the driver to see. For approaching traffic it has a halo effect making it difficult for approaching traffic to see you. This is also a violation of the California Vehicle Code, Sec.24252. (a) Failure to maintain lighting devices.

Recently there have been commercials on TV advertising repair products that make the lenses clear. The labor required to sand and polish the lens is more than most people would want to undertake. It is very time consuming. Another product demonstrated a swipe across the lens with its liquid restorer to make the lens look new on TV. It's also advertised to restore faded body trim panels. I tested this product and it failed to restore the lens to a like new condition. There was slight improvement immediately but by the next day the lens had dulled back, resulting in only about a 10 percent improvement. Incidentally the body trim panel I applied it to had a water stain on it. The stain was not visible when the panel was faded but it sure showed up once the product was applied.

Two questions we often get, what causes this and is the lens replaceable? UV rays from the sun are believed to be the cause; heat from the bulb also contributes. The answer to the second question is, headlights are assemblies, and the lens only is not replaceable. New assemblies are available and costs run in the Two hundred to three hundred dollar range for many vehicles. After-market rebuilt assemblies are available at about a 20 percent savings for these type headlights.

On newer vehicles, new assemblies often cost over One thousand dollars for each light. Rebuilt units may not be always available and cost varies.

Repairing the lights is the most cost effective method. The kits sold to the public, starting with the simplest just require a liquid be wiped over the lenses. I discussed this above as not very effective. The other type repair kits contain sandpaper and require a lot of hand sanding and then polishing to get the lens clear. Some kits provide a polishing pad and require a drill. Some kits have a liquid UV protectant that is wiped on after the sanding and polishing. The results I have seen from the "do it your-selfers" at best are described as fair or they give up. These repairs often last a short time.

Before faded lens.

After, repaired lens, using the Coachmaster exclusive process.

As you can see from the after photo, quality is excellent and our method is a Coachmaster exclusive. Sand storm and minor road chip damage can also be repaired. Coachmaster has been making headlights clear again since the 1970's.

Don Stec is the owner of Coachmaster of Redding. Coachmaster is a full service collision repair shop also specializing in the repair of recreational vehicles, including boats and trailers. They can be reached at 530-243-1310 or at the shop at 6851 Eastside Road in Redding.

Got a problem with your vehicle?  Coachmaster is a full service collision repair shop, specializing in total vehicle alignment, using laser beams and blueprints.  Check us out at www.coachmasterautobody.comor give us a call. 

530 - 243 -1310, 6851 Eastside Road Redding CA.