Complete guide for car headlight maintenance

Updated Oct 14, 2020 | Same topic: Handy Maintenance Tips

Keep your car headlight in tip-top shape with these useful maintenance tips

The road signs seem to look rather dim and the pedestrians harder to see. Your field of vision seems to have gone smaller! This is rather alarming as you might urgently need to schedule for an eye exam. Fear not, perhaps you don’t require an eye exam but just a little headlight checkup.

Your headlights provide better road visibility so it makes the drivers feel more confident and secure to cruise through the roads. The last things you need are bulbs that are dim, dead, and a cloudy headlight case.

Headlights are often the least of priorities when it comes to car accessories which shouldn’t be. Honestly, when was the last time your changed headlights? Headlights are your first line of defense during driving.

If you can’t see something, then you can’t react to it accordingly. So let’s be proactive in our headlight maintenance to make all our roads safe. has prepared some maintenance tips that all drivers can try.

1. Clean Regularly

Don’t wait until your headlights are all dirty and grimy or worst if you’d actually have to stop and wipe it clean because it is already limiting your road visibility. Wipe your headlights using a damp microfiber cloth at least twice or once a week.

It’s just a few more minutes added to your usual car care routine but those additional few minutes can prove critical once you’re driving.

clean the headlights

Wipe your headlights using a damp microfiber cloth at least twice or once a week

2. Check your Headlight’s Lens

Since your headlights are technically the eyes of your vehicle, then regular eye checkup is a must. Look closely at the lenses as they need to be crystal clear. There should be no traces or the start of yellowing and fogginess.

Due to factors like sunlight, smog, and chemicals, headlight lenses can really start getting cloudy and when this happens, it diffuses the headlight beams which affect your road visibility.

Yellowing also depreciates your car’s market value. There are widely available headlight restoration kits in the market that can help you clear the lenses. If the DIY fails, you can always negotiate with your car dealer for a replacement.

check Headlight lens

Due to sunlight, smog, and chemicals, headlight lenses can start getting cloudy that affect your road visibility

>>> Worth the check: Easy ways to make your headlights shine like new

3. Check for the Brightness

As everything is subjected to wear and tear, your headlights will eventually go out. Sometimes, one before the other. One headlight with the correct illumination is not good as it still compromises visibility.

It’s like you're wearing an eye patch over one eye so always check for your headlight’s brightness – both of them to determine if it is time for a replacement.

You can do this quick illumination test by parking your car in front of a wall or your garage door, turn on the headlights and inspect the surface to make sure that the two headlights are nice and bright. If it looks dim or yellowish, then it’s time to replace them. Don’t wait before any of the headlights completely die on you.

check headlight brightness

Turn on the headlights and inspect the surface to make sure that the two headlights are nice and bright

4. Check the Alignment

While doing the illumination test; you might as well check the focus of your lights. Are your headlights’ aim spot on? They should hit the same height on the wall. If one is lower or higher, the headlights are likely to create a blind spot for other drivers causing their visibility to get affected.

Misaligned headlights are often caused by potholes and rough roads. For this, you can have your local mechanic to adjust and align it for you.

5. Always in pairs

After checking the status of the lens, brightness and the focus, you would know if one of the two needs to be replaced. But the rule of thumb is to always replace in pairs. Replace your headlights in sets of two because a dim bulb paired with a very bright one causes an uneven field of vision and brightness.

This can be really distracting especially for oncoming traffic. You would notice that headlight maintenance is not just for you but also because of the welfare of other drivers that you meet along the road.

Replace headlight in pair

Replace your headlights in sets of two

6. Invest smartly

Set aside a few bucks for an upgrade. You don’t just focus on upgrading other car parts but consider upgrading your basic headlights and replace it with high-performance headlights.

It just doesn’t give you better ‘eyes’ and light but it also improves the overall driving experience. From the well tested and loved true halogens to the LEDs, effective headlights can help make your travels during the night incident free.

>>> Read more: Choosing the best headlight for your car: 5 common kinds for drivers

8. Call the Experts

In case the DIY attempt fails then that’s the reason why we have professionals for this. You can always ask for tips and then a ‘watch and learn’ with your local mechanic so next time you can do another attempt on a DIY.

The experts can do an overall check and replace not just for your headlights but also for the other lamps on your car that also needs to be checked.

Don’t forget that apart from your headlights, you also have to have the same rigor with your brake lights, taillights, signal lights, running lights and all other points of illumination to ensure that you and oncoming traffic has good visibility with the right amount of brightness.

An expert cleaning the headlights

Have your headlights checked by the mechanic if DIY attempt fails 

People cannot drive if they have eye impairment because they would be a moving target for an accident. This is pretty much the same concept for headlights that aren’t in perfect condition. Always remember that being your first line of defense especially during the night; you’ll always want nice, clean and bright headlights!

Hanna Sanchez

Hanna Sanchez


Hanna is one of the most competitive swimmers in the country during her day. It was not long before she discovered her passion for the automotive industry as well. Nowadays, she balances her passion through writing as well as coaching.