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Facts you should know. . .
Did You Know?
Plastic headlights manufactured since the late 1980's are made with polycarbonate plastic. Though lightweight, the plastic surface is extremely porous. During production, manufacturers apply a protective film to the plastic lens surface. After time intense sunlight, heat and humidity can accelerate the de-lamination of this film layer. Day to day driving exposes plastic vehicle lights to these environmental elements. Over time, the lenses develop a cloudy, hazy, foggy, yellowed discolored appearance. This erosion significantly lowers the light's ability to project its proper beam of light for night time driving and during extreme weather conditions. Highway statistics have shown that dirty lenses can decrease visibility by as much as 90%. Therefore, by increasing the effectiveness of your lights, you will also restore optical clarity to the lenses.
The Let There Be Light Restoration Products Benefits:
• Dramatically improves your driving visibility and increases you and your passenger's safety.
• Significantly increases the strength and distance of your head, tail, and safety lights.
• Enhances the appearance of your lenses and the look of your vehicle.
• Considerably increases your vehicle's return investment and resale value.
• Your lenses will have that showroom finish shine again...in as little as 30 minutes!
• UV protective coating that offers maximum resistance to cracking, peeling and fading.
A CBS5 I-Team Investigation Learn
How Fading Headlights Could Make Your Drive Dangerous.
MIAMI (CBS5 News) The Florida Attorney General's Office now wants to hear from you if the headlights on your car have become dangerously dim. Bad weather, flooded roads, and dark, crowded highways are a constant problem on South Florida's increasingly mean streets. In many cases, the only thing keeping us safe when the road's dark or dangerous is something most drivers take for granted: our headlights.
A CBS4 I-Team investigation found a growing number of motorists driving with headlights that may not even meet state or federal safety standards. It's a problem affecting hundreds of thousands of headlights on virtually every make of car and truck, foreign or domestic.
Aging plastic headlights, after as little as two or three years on the road, are becoming so "cloudy" they actually output less light than is needed to legally do their job. Marvally Leyva of Hialeah believes her headlights are growing dim, but she doesn't know why. She takes good care of her old car because she doesn't want to buy a new one.Leyva was surprised when the foggy lens on her headlights was pointed out. "Yeah, it's true," she said. "I never noticed it till you pointed it out. Wow. Actually this looks very foggy!"
Auto industry insiders say she's not alone. Auto restorer Mike Patrick thinks as many as 70% of the cars on the road may be operating with aging plastic headlights that put out less light than when they were brand new. Patrick believes "it's getting worse, and I hate to say it, it's because the automakers are finding ways to cut costs to keep more money in their pockets so they're using probably a less quality product to build it" All car headlights were once made from glass, but the new, high-tech plastic lenses weigh less than glass, and are more impact resistant. However, when you start checking out some older cars that used traditional glass headlights, you can clearly see the glass stays clearer for a lot longer.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, headlights have to clearly illuminate the roadway for at least 150 feet. FHP Lieutenant Pat Santangelo said "The bottom line is it is a safety problem; it is a safety hazard to have this type of lens." Santangelo says that type of safety hazard can get you pulled over and ticketed. "If it's obviously not as bright as it should be, that individual can be pulled over and issued a citation for unsafe equipment."
If you're driving a car or truck with dimming headlights, it can be a serious problem, one which the CBS4 I-Team demonstrated with the assistance of lighting expert Marty Siegal. Using a standard light meter and a white panel, the I-team positioned a number of cars at 150 feet, some with clear headlights, some with older, clouded lights. Siegal measured the light output to see how close it came to the state standards. With an aging headlight, you could see with the naked eye the light seemed dimmer than other cars, and the light meter confirmed that. "They look pretty brownish yellow. the look defiantly weak," said Siegal. "This is actually 7/10ths of a foot-candle, it's very, very dim; it's almost nothing"
Siegal then tested a second car, with lights which were not fogged or clouded. Again, the difference was apparent to the naked eye, and the light meter confirmed that."Color wise this appears to be much brighter," Siegal observed. "You have twice as much light. The other was 7-10ths, this is 1.4 (foot-candles), it's twice as much light."While we could measure the light output with a meter, the state doesn't do that. It uses a subjective standard; if the light looks dim, Santangelo said, a trooper can issue a ticket based on his or her opinion.
So, what can drivers do about the problem? Auto restorer Mike Patrick says faded headlights can be temporarily cleaned up for a year or two, and has developed a method for doing so, using chemicals, which he is trying to market. Patrick says the job must include a final acrylic re-surfacing that keeps the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays from damaging plastic headlights even more. There are many methods advertised on the internet for clearing cloudy lights, but they offer varying degrees of effectiveness. Some mechanics have even suggested sanding the lights with a fine-grit sandpaper.
The expense of replacing those lights, because they have become too dim to do their job, has attorneys paying attention. Coral Gables attorney Ralph Patino says he's hearing from more and more frustrated car owners facing big bills, trying to replace plastic headlights that are no longer covered by their manufacturers' warranty. "In order to replace one of these headlights it's very, very expensive and the manufacturers know it."
Patino thinks it's a profit item for manufacturers. "Absolutely, to replace this is $300-$400 and multiply that by 2 for each vehicle" Patino sees the losses to consumers "in the millions." Patino is now researching the possibility of filing a nationwide class action lawsuit against the auto industry and headlight manufacturers."This can result in an automobile accident," he said. "it was not designed to be opaque a year or two after its manufacture."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the fading headlights are a maintenance issue for car owners, not a safety defect or a recall issue. However, at least two consumer groups are poised to take action to address dangerously dim headlights.
© MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc.
All Rights Reserved.
Polycarbonate headlights offer great advantages as they are light weight, moldable, cheap, etc., but they also have disadvantages as stated above. The physical reason for the lens degradation has to do with the fact that the energy of UV radiation is close to the disassociation energy of the chemical bonds – hence, over long periods of time, the UV radiation causes the bonds in the polymer to ‘disassociate’…and this leads to oxidation. To protect headlamp lenses from fading, manufacturers typically apply a UV coating to the lens – a hard, scratch-resistant, UV protected layer.
Let There Be Light's UV Protectant is a UV polymer coating that is formulated with up to 100% solids so that it has no volatile components that contribute to pollution and is the ideal companion for the final stage of your restoration.
Soon after it is applied to the outer surface of the restored plastic lens, it is proven to effectively guard against chemical and environmental exposure while enhancing the finish.
When properly used according to the kit's instructions, it produces the required protective coating that offers maximum resistance to cracking, peeling and fading.
Most people do not know that not only do worn or cloudy headlights look bad, but they also reduce light output by as much as 95%. That is a huge difference in whether you can effectively see or be seen when driving at night!
Nearly one of every three drivers on the road (32%) say they have difficulty seeing all or most of the time while driving in the dark according to Shedding Light on Driving in the Dark, a nationwide survey conducted by Kelton Research on behalf of Road & Travel Magazine.
Contact Lenses. More than one-fourth (26%) report that they have trouble seeing signs or exits; one-fifth (20%) acknowledge difficulty seeing animals or pedestrians, and one-fifth (20%) also have difficulty with seeing turns in the road. More than one in five (22%) also report problems in judging distance while driving in the dark.
Truck Before Headlight Restoration
Night driving before headlight restoration.
Truck After Headlight Restoration
Night driving after headlight restoration.
Dim Headlights May Be Hampering Your Night Vision
(CBS4) BOSTON If you think you can't see at night while you drive, it might not be your fault. A CBS4 investigation reveals your automobile headlights are probably not as bright and reliable as you think they are.
When Chuck Pearson is behind the wheel he finds it very hard to see. I drive with my high beams on all the time to compensate for the fact the low beams are insufficient."
And he's not alone. Our investigation found a growing number of motorists are hitting the road with headlights that might not meet state or federal safety standards.
It's a problem affecting hundreds of thousands of headlights on virtually every kind of vehicle!
CBS4 examined a set of headlights that were so cloudy they actually cut down the amount of light they put out!
First of all, the sun will cause the yellowing, said Bill Cahill, who owns an auto shop. The second thing is the road debris, sand, dirt, rock and pebbles will actually hit the lens and nick the lens as you're driving down the road."
Auto shop owner Bill Cahill believes the majority of cars on the road are operating with aging plastic headlights.
Why? "Manufacturers are doing it because it's easier to manufacture plastic than glass, it cuts costs," said Cahill.
But those cloudy headlights could potentially cost you your life. That's why the state says headlights must illuminate the road for at least 115 feet. If they don't..."they're jeopardizing their own safety and the safety of everyone else on the road, said Ann Collins who heads up the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
We asked Patrick Bzdula, who teaches auto mechanics at Mass Bay Community College, to measure how much light "cloudy" and "clear" headlights put out at 64 feet -- a little over half of the state's mandate.
First up... Aging headlights that look frosted. "These are the degraded headlamps on low beams put the high beams on please," said Bzdula.
You can barely see the two people standing straight ahead.
The comparison is extraordinary when you take a look at how the aging headlights compare to the newer, high intensity lights.
But despite the state's mandate, we found safety inspectors are not checking the brightness of headlights -- they're only checking the aim -- leaving some motorists believing their cars meet state standards when in reality they don't.
We asked Collins why nobody's checking. "Well, brightness is not exactly a simple thing to measure for. If you wanted to do a test at night, you'd make inspections so inconvenient that people wouldn't go and get them and that would be a much bigger problem."