Cloudy or discolored car headlights can dramatically reduce visibility

(KOMO file photo)

Sunlight does more than age the paint on your car, it clouds the protective plastic coating on the headlights and that can dramatically reduce their effectiveness.

"As they get older, we see a yellow film on them. They become cloudy and that becomes a real safety concern,” said Greg Brannon, AAA's director of automotive engineering.

The inside of the headlight is just fine, but as the plastic coating deteriorates, the amount of light getting through is greatly reduced.

"If you think about it like a shade that's pulled down over the light, it's blocking that light from getting out of the lens,” Brannon said.

AAA had tests done on headlights from two popular sedans that were approximately 11 years old. When on low bream, they only provided 22 percent of the light created by a new headlight operating at full capacity.

That’s why AAA encourages you to check the headlights as part of your regular maintenance. That becomes especially important, Brannon told me, after the vehicle turns three years old.

If those headlights are degraded, they may need to be repaired or replaced.

More Info: Cloudy Headlights Produce Only 20 Percent of the Light Created by New Ones

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