2019 Toyota 86 headlights and grille

How do I clean my foggy and oxidized plastic headlights?

Over time, it’s likely that your headlights will start to look yellow and cloudy, regardless of your vehicle maintenance and washing habits. Cloudy headlights can have a negative impact on nighttime visibility when behind the wheel, and it’s best to try and take care of the problem right away before it gets any worse. Find our best tips for DIY methods to clean cloudy headlights at home below.

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DIY Methods for Cleaning Cloudy Headlights

Someone cleaning a car exterior and headlights with a red clothFirst, try giving your car and headlights a good cleaning as sometimes cloudy headlights can simply be the result of buildup and grime from driving on dirty streets. If your headlights are clean and the haze hasn’t cleared, it’s time to move on to something a little more powerful.

The best way to remove the cloudy appearance from your headlights is to buff the top layer of haze off with an abrasive material. We always suggest starting with something mild like a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Using painter’s tape or old rags, cover the exterior of your vehicle that is directly next to your headlights, so no abrasive materials damage your paint. Then, take a soft cloth and start buffing your baking soda and vinegar mixture into your headlights. After a few minutes of buffing, rinse everything off with water and dry with a clean cloth to see the results. If your headlight still looks cloudy, it probably needs to be buffed with something more abrasive, which should be left to the professionals so no damage occurs.

Why do headlights get cloudy?

Most headlights are made with polycarbonate plastic which becomes oxidized by the sun. New vehicles have a protective film on them to prevent oxidation, but over time this film can wear down leading to a yellow and cloudy appearance. Most Toyota service centers should be able to clean cloudy headlights and replace the protective film so your headlights can be
protected once more from the sun and oxidation process.

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St. Louis-area residents can trust the team at the Ackerman Toyota service center with their headlight maintenance and repair service needs. Give us a call at 314-351-3000 and let us know what we can do to get your vehicle back to like-new condition!