Photo of foggy headlight.
Driving with foggy headlights can be scary. CC by Davers!/Flickr

You shouldn’t drive at night with foggy, smeared headlights — unless the potential for getting into an accident appeals to you. Doing so simply isn’t wise. And if crud and moisture sits in the headlight fixture for too long, the lights are more likely to fail. This increases the likelihood of getting a “fix it” ticket from your friendly neighborhood state trooper. Ultimately, however, fixing the small problem of foggy headlights is a simple affair.

When headlights go bad

Water enters into the headlight assembly of any car, writes Popular Mechanics. Cooler temperatures produce condensation, and all your car’s surfaces will be subject to the wet touch. Cool air gets in through the factory vents, which are there for pressure equalization so the plastic doesn’t crack. Usually this isn’t an issue, however; the morning sun burns off the moisture. A car parked in a shady spot may need some additional help from the hands of the owner, however.

Take the fog out of foggy headlamps

If you own a fancy car, then just turn on the headlight defogger. But more realistically, Popular Mechanics’ first suggestion is that car owners do some research to see if a Technical Service Bulletin exists for their make and model of vehicle. This handy little document will unveil possible upgrades, such as whether there’s an upgrade to your factory headlight fixture, which is probably cheap and no frills.

If there is no upgrade to pursue, get down to DIY basics. Don’t worry about a few droplets. A car trip with headlights for a couple of hours should provide the necessary heat for evaporation. Be sure to drive two hours every time condensation occurs. It’s a great excuse to take the scenic route. Take out the fixture if there’s a lot of water in there. Watch for mud, wasps and spiders while you’re in there cleaning up. Dump the water and bugs out, clean the area with rubbing alcohol, and let the whole thing dry under sunlight before you put the fixture back into the car. Finally, Popular Mechanics suggests that you park your car facing south whenever possible to help reduce the amount of condensation that accumulates.


Popular Mechanics:

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