What Causes Headlights to Turn Yellow

What Causes Headlights to Turn Yellow? Tips to Fix

Are you starting to notice that your car headlights are turning yellow? Many car owners struggle with this issue. But what causes headlights to turn yellow, and is there anything that can be done about it?

Headlights are designed with a clear coating that protects the lens from harmful UV light. Over time, this protective layer wears off and the exposure to sunlight causes the headlights to turn yellow. When you have yellowed headlights, not only will they be unsightly but it’ll make seeing the road at night difficult too.

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at why headlights yellow. Also, we’ll explore some inexpensive solutions to fix this common headlight problem. Now, let’s dive into the details.

It’s The Sun’s UV Rays That Causes Headlights to Turn Yellow

It’s true, the sun is one of the harshest things for your car. You might not think about it, but UV rays can cause havoc on your automobile. In fact, the most common thing that UV rays will affect first are your headlights.

The protective coating applied to the headlights during manufacturing is what keeps the lenses crystal clear. But once that protective layer wears off, exposure to sunlight begins to take it’s effect on the plastic. These UV rays will eventually cause cracking in the lens, allowing air to oxidize the plastic.

This creates a chemical reaction which begins to oxidize and yellow the headlight lenses. When left untreated, the headlights will continue to yellow and even get foggy or hazy.

This can seriously impact your visibility while driving at night. Not to mention, it’s just pretty darn unsightly.

How Long Does it Take for Headlights to Yellow?

Headlights are often one of the first places on a car that show wear and tear. Over time, they can become dull and yellowed from exposure to the elements.

Signs of yellowing in headlights can begin as early as three years. This is typical when the vehicle sees lots of highway miles and sun exposure. However, expect a car’s OEM headlights to remain crystal clear for up to five years.

If you park your car in the garage, even better, as this will reduce exposure to the suns UV rays.

Can Yellow Headlights be Restored?

If you’re wondering whether your yellowed headlights can be reverted back to their original state, you’re not alone. The good news is that with a little time and effort, you can restore your yellow headlights back to their original crystal clear condition.

When it comes to headlight restoration, there are plenty of easy-to-use products on the market. So, if your headlights are looking a little dull, don’t worry! A few applications of headlight restore polish will do the trick in bringing them back to their original clear state.

You can typically find headlight polish at most auto parts or big box stores. It’s usually located near the car waxes and polishes. Expect to pay between $10-$20. Headlight polish is a quick and easy way to make your headlamps look new again.

How to Keep Headlights from Turning Yellowing

If you want to protect your headlights from yellowing, there are a few things you can do. First, make sure you clean them regularly. This will help to remove any dirt or grime that can build up over time and cause discoloration.

Also, apply car wax to the headlights every few washes. Most high quality car waxes contain ingredients that protect your car’s paint from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. This type of protection is important to maintain the beauty of your headlight’s finish.

Additionally, you can also use a UV protective spray on your headlights to create a barrier against the elements. Another great method is to apply a clear vinyl film on the headlights. This will help protect the plastic lens from road debris that can cause the process of oxidization. 

Finally, the sun’s rays are the most intense during the hottest time of day. Park your car away from direct sunlight as much as possible. Long periods of sun exposure can accelerate the yellowing process.

Backing your car in whether it’s in your driveway or your parking spot at work will help keep the sun off your headlights. Taillights are less likely to be damaged by the sun, and they’re easier to fix if they do get faded.

Is There a Permanent Fix to Yellowing Headlights?

Unfortunately headlight polish is only a temporary fix, as the yellow haze will surely return. This is why professional detailers recommend sanding the headlights as a permanent fix. Sanding is the best way to restore your headlights permanently. The process of sanding the headlights strips away the yellow layer, revealing the once shiny crystal clear lenses you loved. Then a UV resistant sealant is applied to protect the clear plastic.

However, many don’t know the proper procedure for sanding headlights. If you don’t sand evenly, you could end up permanently damaging your headlights. If you’re not feeling comfortable sanding your own headlights, why not take them to a professional? They’ll have the tools and expertise to get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Final Thoughts

Yellowing headlights can be a real danger when you’re driving at night. They can also cause your car to fail an inspection. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to clear up the yellow haze and improve your vision while driving at night. Hopefully, these tips will help keep your headlights looking great for years to come.

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Christopher

View posts by Christopher
Loves anything with a motor and wheels. Christopher is an internet technology and automotive expert. When he's not at the local autocross event, he can often be found working on one of his cars. He loves nothing more than taking something apart and putting it back together again–better than before.

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