Have you ever been driving at night and noticed that some vehicles’ headlights are dimmer than others? Unfortunately, headlights aren’t designed to stay bright forever. In most vehicles, the headlights are coated with a protective poly-carbonate plastic lens. Over time, a vehicle’s headlights can lose their shine as these lenses become discoloured and cloudy due to prolonged exposure to the elements. Not only does this discolouration affect a vehicle’s appearance, but it endangers a vehicle’s passengers, making it harder for other cars to see the vehicle on the road and limiting the driver’s visibility.
If you’re considering a career as an auto detailer, you’ll be restoring vehicles to their former glory using a number of different techniques. Read on for a closer look at how to improve headlight visibility through restoration.
A Look at How Headlight Damage Occurs for Those with Auto Detailing Training
Just about any vehicle is susceptible to headlight damage. Headlights are coated with polycarbonate plastic, a durable material designed to protect headlights from dirt and debris encountered on the road. However, polycarbonate plastic tends to be susceptible to sunlight. Direct sunlight exposes this material to UV and heat damage, setting off an oxidation process that can cause the polycarbonate to become opaque and discoloured. This discolouration can diminish the clarity and sharpness of the light coming from a vehicle’s headlights.
In addition to oxidation, headlights can become scratched and chipped over time due to the impact of pebbles and debris. If a vehicle’s headlights are particularly old, the bulbs can also begin to dim. In the case of headlight damage, those with auto detailing training can perform headlight restoration in order to improve visibility.
Headlight Restoration: What It Is and Why It Matters
Headlight restoration is a process in which a vehicle’s deteriorating headlight coating is removed and a new layer of protective coating is installed. This procedure is both important and effective for a number of reasons. For one, headlight restoration can improve the general appearance of a vehicle, giving the exterior a more sleek and refined look. Additionally, headlight restoration impacts a driver’s range of vision. Oxidation can increase the angle of light refraction, negatively affecting the clarity of light emitted by the headlights and reducing the amount of nighttime visibility a driver has. With reduced visibility, drivers have a greater chance of suffering an accident on the road, putting them and other vehicles in danger.
How Professionals in an Auto Detailing Career Can Perform a Headlight Restoration
For those seeking an auto detailing career, it’s important to know how to perform a headlight restoration in order to properly service a vehicle with damaged headlights. To start, the headlights should be cleaned with a microfiber cloth to remove any contaminants lingering on the surface. Next, the headlights can be wet sanded using water and wet sandpaper. This process can be repeated until a uniform haze is developed, after which the wet sanding process is repeated with a higher grit sandpaper. Once the headlights are fully sanded and wiped down again, an abrasive compound can be applied using a hand drill and a sponge. This compound will polish the lens and restore shine.
Lastly, a UV sealant can be applied to the surface of the headlights, ensuring that they are protected from oxidation and exposure to sunlight. Once these steps are completed, headlight visibility will be as good as new—greatly improving the safety and appearance of a vehicle when it hits the road.
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