For a lot of years auto makers paid little attention to headlamps other than the design of their lenses. High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps arrived about a decade ago and are the gold standard in headlight performance but were limited mostly to upscale rides. Recently, LED has made an appearance as taillights, brake lights and daytime running lamps. There are also LED headlights and while they are an evolving technology, some have proven to be equivalent to HID rigs. Halogen lamps are the most common and are probably the reason you’re reading about headlight upgrades.
Headlight Upgrade Solutions
So, how do you get more lumens on the concrete? We’ll give you one no-brainer “modification” that is a low cost, low skill DIY “modification” and then discuss the more involved (and expensive) upgrading of headlight systems.
- Clean Foggy Lenses. If you are driving an older ride painted in clear coat then odds are your headlight lenses are not as clear, or maybe downright foggy, than they should be. It’s what happens to clear coat on plastic headlight lenses. There are several DIY kits that promise “lifelong” results. This writer has personally used a lifelong product to clean the lenses on a 2001 Chrysler Sebring…three times. The kits all provide the same thing. A series of wet sanding sandpaper in progressively finer grits, a spray on solvent, and clear coat with applicator. The more you sand, the better the results. My top picks are:
- Home Depot: Great selection of wet sanding sandpaper, spray on transparent clear coat for plastic and painter’s tape for masking. Got the best results because I had plenty of materials.
- 3M Headlight Lens Restoration System: Works OK and is priced right.
- Sylvania Headlight Restoration Kit: The first one I used and I was amazed at the results until 8 months later when the lenses became foggy again.
All you need to get this done is a kit, a source of water (an old Windex spray bottle works fine) and some painter’s tape to protect the metal headlight housing from accidental sanding. Patience and a strong right arm are also important.