Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

(Photos.com)
(Photos.com)

You & Your Car

How to clear foggy headlights Add to ...

I drive an older car (2005) and the headlight lenses have become foggy. Any way to correct this? – Brian

There certainly is.

Since manufacturers turned away from the rectangular or round glass sealed-beam lenses, they have turned to plastic or its derivatives for headlight lenses. The very feature that makes them attractive to designers – the flexibility and ability to be moulded into almost any shape – makes them vulnerable to minor damage from dirt or debris thrown up from the vehicle in ahead, to chemical etching from the atmosphere. These plastic lenses are also more prone to discoloration caused by ultraviolet radiation from the sun with the passing of time.

More Related to this Story

Go to your local Canadian Tire or other auto parts place and pick up a headlight lens cleaner kit. There are a number of them available from various manufacturers, some require simple elbow grease and others a power tool like a drill with a buffer pad. All cost less than $30. Pick one from a name you recognize such as Sylvania, 3M, Turtle Wax and follow the directions.

All contain an applicator and a mild abrasive that can be used to “sand” the lens, removing small scratches and other damage. Some also contain a sealer to apply a protective layer when you are finished. Some car makers used lenses with a hard protective layer that will have to be removed before using the lens cleaning kit. This can be accomplished with 400-grit sandpaper. Follow the instructions carefully, as you are in effect removing a layer of the lens. This means you should also be careful not to touch any surrounding trim or metal pieces.

To do the job properly will require about an hour, but when you are through, you will have improved not only the appearance of your vehicle, but the effectiveness of your headlights by as much as 80 per cent.

Stuck fuel gauge

I recently bought a 1990 Plymouth Laser, from the original owner, that was well cared for. The fuel gauge appears to be stuck at quarter-tank and the seller indicated it was likely a stuck float, as the car has been in storage for a few years with minimal fill-ups and road use. I have reason to trust that the seller checked that it was not a fuse or electrical connection problem. Is it possible to unstick a fuel gauge float by running a fuel additive through a couple of tank fill cycles? Which additive should I try? Will this issue hold up safety certification? What approach is the mechanic likely to take in diagnosing/repairing this issue? All message boards on the Internet suggest tracing the wiring and checking for bad connections under the dash, which sounds like a bear of a project. Is there a better way? – Andrew

I am not a fan of kits such as this. But I am sure there are some decent ones out there.

The mere fact you are driving the vehicle might be the cure since it will not only jog the float over every bump, but apply internal pressure as the fuel level goes down and then back up when you refill.

An additional step would be to use a fuel with a lot of cleaning agents like Shell high test.

I am not sure how this issue would affect safety certification since I doubt it would show during any test. The use of an additive might, though, since it will appear in the emission portion of the test.

Send your automotive maintenance and repair questions to globedrive@globeandmail.com

Follow us on Twitter: @Globe_Drive

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories