Clouded headlights not just cosmetic problem

Channel 2 demonstrates difference in visibility and tests inexpensive solutions

HOUSTON – Picture yourself driving down a dark road on a rainy night. Your visibility is already limited, but it's worse if the lenses on your cars headlights have begun to oxidize and get hazy and clouded over.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety trooper Richard Standifer it's a combination of the heat generated on the inside of the lens by the light itself and the south Texas heat and humidity that makes this an issue for Houston drivers. 

"People love to get cars but they don't like to maintain them," said Standifer. 

Lyn Nguyen, an IT contractor at the civil courthouse, said she had been driving around with her clouded lenses for six years. 

Nguyen agreed to participate in a demonstration in the back of the Channel 2 parking lot. Two children walked in front of her 2004 Honda Accord about 175 feet away.  

The children then walked in front of a newer vehicle with clear headlight lenses.   There was a noticeable difference in the visibility between Nguyen's car and the newer one. 

"I thought my lights were bright until seeing that.  It's frightening because children do play at night," said Nguyen. 

Similar results were observed when Channel 2 investigates conducted the same experiment on two other vehicles with clouded lenses.

Trooper Standifer recommends that drivers replace their entire headlight once it begins to oxidize, but that can be very expensive depending on the make and model of your vehicle.

Channel 2 investigates tested three alternatives.

A professional headlight restoration company, CL Headlight Restoration, came to Nguyen's work and restored her lights at a cost of $120.

Meguiar's makes a headlight restoration kit that can be purchased at most auto parts stores for around $30.

Channel 2 director Bob Nagy tested the product on his car.  

There was a visible difference but the kit could not clear some of oxidation which appeared to be on the inside of the lens.

The least expensive product tested was a Turtle wax kit that sells for around $10. 

Channel 2 reporter Bill Spencer rolled up his sleeves and went to work on an older station vehicle with hazy headlight lenses.

The kit seemed to clear all of the cloudiness from the lenses. 

All three vehicles returned at night to repeat the demonstration.  There was a drastic difference in Nguyen's viability from prior to the restoration.  The same was true for the station vehicle.  Nagy's vehicle did not show much of an improvement. 

Consumer reports did a similar experiment with headlight restoration products. 

A video showing insect repellent cleaning headlights has been gaining a lot of attention online.  Channel 2 did not test this method due to concerns that the chemicals in the insect repellent can actually melt a portion of the lens as well as the clear coat in the paint on a vehicle.  

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