San Diego

Cloudy With A Chance Of An Accident

NBC 7 Responds offers some advice on cloudy headlights that are fogging your view of the road.

Having trouble seeing while driving at night?

Hold off on updating your vision prescription, and try cleaning your car or truck’s headlights first.

Clouded or yellow headlights can darken your headlights by nearly 80 percent, says new research from AAA. And cloudy headlights can lead to an increased risk of accidents.

“Walk through any parking lot and it is evident that deteriorated headlights are a problem for most vehicle owners,” said AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations, Greg Bannon. “Headlights on the road in the U.S., even when new, don’t produce enough lighting, so any reduction in performance is a real safety issue.”

In San Diego, there’s little that can be done to prevent the discoloration of headlights, other than keeping your car in the garage during daylight hours.

“Here in Southern California that sun really is harsh, not only for our skin, but the headlights on our cars and trucks as well,” said Doug Shupe, spokesperson for the Auto Club of Southern California. “Over time the sunlight can reduce the visibility by 80 percent.”

There are few things that drivers can do to turn up the lights on your car.

First, and shown to be most effective, according to AAA, replace the headlight casing every 11 years or so. While this is the most effective, it’s also the most expensive option. Headlights, especially on newer model cars can be pricey, and sometimes difficult to remove and install. Hiring someone will only increase the price.

Aftermarkets headlights can be cheaper but they will not be as effective at restoring the light intensity.

The most affordable, but again least effective, is giving the lamps the old-fashioned scrubdown, using products sold at auto parts stores. Those products can cost anywhere from $11 to $15 says AAA’s spokesperson Doug Shupe.

Shupe said using the cleaners generally increases visibility by about 70 percent.

“It’s better than nothing,” said Shupe. “My advice is to check the headlights every so often. If you can’t see the bulb than it’s clearly time to replace or restore that headlight.”

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