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Headlight Check!

Nighttime driving requires headlights. After all, headlights are the key to see and be seen on the road. When your headlights aren’t working properly, your safety may be at risk and you are more likely to get pulled over and ticketed by the authorities. Check headlights and turn signals before hitting the road and look for symptoms, while you’re driving, that may indicate whether they’ve reached the end of their lifecycle or just in need of a simple cleaning. Here’s what you need to know about checking your headlights and turn signals and how to keep them in top shape to navigate the road ahead.

Fixing a headlight

Headlights are essential to your vehicle in terms of safety and visibility. Faulty headlights produce a few symptoms to clue drivers into knowing when they should be replaced. If your vehicle displays one or more of the following symptoms, it’s best to get your vehicle inspected by your trusted automotive service provider to determine if the bulb or the whole assembly should be replaced. Common symptoms of failing headlights include:

  1. Dim light – Over time headlights wear out and don’t shine as brightly as they once did when they were new. Dim headlights are visibly unable to provide the proper illumination needed for night driving. While this a clear sign the bulb is near going out entirely, if you notice dimming while the engine is idling, the electrical system may be to blame. Have a technician inspect the battery and alternator to make sure they are working properly.
  2. Flickering – When headlight bulb fibers become damaged or worn, the bulb may flicker on and off indicating it may soon burn out.  Flickering could also be the result of a bad harness or connection, so be sure to have your trusted technician inspect the assembly.
  3. No Light – The most obvious symptom a headlight bulb is out is no light shining from the headlight. It’s common that after a certain amount of time and use, a headlight will eventually go out. Replace headlights in pairs as the other light may soon go out too.

Sometimes your headlights are working just fine but are distorted by the cloudy covering of fog and oxidation. Headlight covers were once made of glass and discoloration was less common, however, now that most covers are made of plastic, time and UV light exposure from the sun are responsible for this common occurrence. The foggy appearance and oxidation reduce the beam of light your headlights produce, requiring headlight restoration. Three reasons you should consider having your headlights restored include:

  1. For your safety. Driving at night with hazy or cloudy headlights reduces the beam of light by up to 70%. Don’t think you can use your bright lights as a substitute either. It’s dangerous and you can still blind other drivers.
  2. It looks good. By restoring your headlights, it enhances the appearance of the vehicle by giving it a “newer” look. Bonus: It may also add value to your car if you’re considering selling or trading it in.
  3. It saves you money. If you had a small nail in your tire that could be repaired with a simple patch, would you spend a nominal fee on the repair or purchase four new tires? The concept is the same with headlights. Why replace the entire, often expensive, assembly, when for a small investment you can have your headlights restored?

Professional headlight restoration in Phoenix, AZ can be found through detailers and auto repair and body shops, or by the use of kits and home remedies for DIYers. If you’re considering doing the job yourself, be sure to take the time to do it right. Otherwise, you may need to do it again in six months or even wind up having to replace the headlight unintentionally due to an error. Follow our tips on how to make your headlights look shiny and new again:

  • Clean your headlights regularly using household glass cleaner. A simple cleaning can make a big difference by removing dirt, water spots, and other grime from the area.
  • Before using a restoration kit, be sure your car’s exterior around the headlight area is clean, especially the headlights.
  • When using a DIY Headlight Restoration Kit, watch any online instructional videos as provided by the kit manufacturer before you begin.
  • Plan on sanding the area down prior to applying the product. Tape off the area around the headlight using painter’s tape. Sand the area down with 1000 grit auto sandpaper.
  • After applying the product, buff the area out with a microfiber cloth. Avoid using anything that releases tiny fibers such as paper towels.
  • Bring lots of patience along, as some products require time to dry (up to an hour) after application.
  • Follow step-by-step directions on how to properly restore your headlights by following this handy guide.

Your car is equipped with a few other lights that are just as important as your headlights such as taillights and turn signals. Have you ever noticed that your turn signal suddenly starts blinking faster than normal? So, what causes a turn signal to blink fast? The turn signal bulb itself may not be working. Each turn signal contains a flashing unit that interrupts the circuit that produces the blinking action for both front and rear bulbs. Since turn signal systems operate at a precise resistance, when a bulb fails, it causes the resistance to change pace by operating faster. However, if both left and right turn signals blink fast, the bulb may not be to blame. Instead, the flasher relay or unit may have failed.