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How to Make Headlights Better

A car's headlight array as viewed from the outside of the vehicle.

Headlights don’t just help you see the road at night, they also illuminate potential dangers in the periphery and ensure that other drivers see you. If you’re wondering how to make headlights better, there are several ways to spruce up your shiners that will leave you beaming.

Bright New Day

It’s important to remember that bulbs are consumables that must be replaced from time to time. Depending on the type, some must be replaced more often than others, but any bulb is eventually going to dim or go out altogether. Fortunately, the simple fix is to replace the bulb with another one just like it.

Lighten Your LoadHow to Make Headlights Brighter

You could also replace your bulb with a different, better one. If you’re working with halogen bulbs, consider upgrading to an LED (Light Emitting Diode) bulb. Compared to traditional lights, LEDs are more energy-efficient, will last longer and will produce more lumens, which translates to higher brightness. As a bonus, LED lights emit hardly any heat compared to halogen.

There’s another option called HID (High Intensity Discharge) bulbs, which are quite bright, but be warned: installing them is a little more involved, they might void your warranty, and the bright bluish color may annoy other drivers. No matter which option you choose, remember not to touch the glass of the bulb.

Check the Lights’ Housing

The effectiveness of your headlights might also be impacted by the state of the clear housing that shields them from the elements. If your headlights are looking a little fogged up or gunky, it may be worth the time to give them a quick clean. The fogging happens normally as a result of oxidation and can be cleaned with store-bought cleaning kits. Interestingly, some people even find that the light abrasives in toothpaste can do the job as well — just give the housing a good initial wash, buff out the fog with the paste (being careful not to scratch the paint), and rinse with water.

Check the Headlight Alignment

Another issue could be that your headlights are out of alignment, which may prevent them from lighting the path ahead as they should. The process for aligning headlights is slightly more complicated, and it will require a couple of tools, but it’s not super technical if you’re ready to dive into a how-to article.

Check the Power

The last potential issue is one of power. Does your vehicle have enough? If not, you’ll likely notice other aspects of your vehicle acting up as well. For instance, it might have trouble starting, or the power windows might be operating slowly. If you notice that your headlights are dimming, especially as you start the car, your battery probably isn’t putting out enough voltage, and it may need a battery change. This is something you’ll want to take care of before you get stranded, so it’s a good thing to watch for.

Ensuring that you have bright headlights helps to keep you and others safe, and it’s a relatively simple maintenance issue. Once you’ve checked your vehicle for the problems listed above and fixed any inefficiencies you discover, you’ll likely find that your headlights are better and brighter.

Check out all the headlights, vision and safety products available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to improve your headlights, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Blair Lampe View All

Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter.  In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.

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