Headlights Yellowing or Foggy? Here are a couple reasons why

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You might notice after a while that the headlights on your vehicle are turning yellow. What used to be bright and white in tone now looks older, and less appealing than you would like. Even worse, the yellow tint might make it harder for you to see where you’re going when driving at night, making your car dangerous.

So what causes this yellowing of the headlight? Your headlights are yellow due to oxidation impacting the plastic covers over those spots. Consistent exposure to the air and the sun’s rays will cause the covers over your headlights to become yellow and dull in appearance. Dirt, water vapor, and other outside items may also impact how well your headlights work while you drive.

What else can happen when oxidation occurs?

Your headlights will feature polycarbonate plastic covers that keep their bulbs and other pieces intact and safe from debris.

Car manufacturers used to make glass headlight covers, but they have been using plastic materials recently because they are cheaper to acquire and utilize, and less dangerous in an accident.

How does the plastic become weak through oxidation?

The polycarbonate plastic becomes weak from oxidation. The sun’s UV rays will alter the outside lens and discolor the coating on the top.

The coating will wear off and weaken after a while, making the headlights more susceptible to oxidation. This issue is the main reason why your car’s headlights will become yellow.

What other threats are there?

There are a few other concerns to watch when seeing how your headlights can become yellow:

  • Small rocks and other bits of debris can chip your headlights. They can also weaken the protective coatings over the headlights.
  • Some dirt and chemicals can also collect over the headlights. These create a cloudy tone to go alongside the discoloration. The issue causes a dimming effect and makes it harder for you to see down the road.
  • Water vapor can also enter the insides of the headlights. While headlights feature seals that prevent moisture from entering, these seals will weaken after a while. The droplets will stain the insides of the headlights and also scatter the light beams.

Discoloration makes it so you can’t see at night

The most significant concern surrounding your headlights becoming yellow is that it is a sign your headlights aren’t as effective as usual.

Oxidation and debris collection will both weaken the light’s strength and cause the light to scatter through a more unfocused layout. It becomes harder for you to see down the road when your headlights are discolored and aren’t working as well.

How can you fix the oxidation?

You don’t have to replace your headlights if they become yellow. You can remove the covers and then clean them off to clear their yellow buildups. Here are a few methods you can use to keep these headlights looking their best:

  • The first and easiest method is by purchasing a kit like the one I have used! It is a quick, easy, and foolproof way to get rid of the yellowing on your headlights. The picture to the right (or above) is what the headlight can look like after using this! Not too bad.
  • Mix baking soda with water and wet the lens covers. You can use a separate sponge or brush to scrub off the surface.
  • Soak the lens covers in white vinegar for about an hour. Use a sponge to rub off the grime and other stains all around.
  • Add toothpaste to the cover and scrub with a dry cloth. Rinse it off and watch as the yellow stains disappear.

You will require a few applications of whatever cleaning process you wish to use as necessary. It can take a few hours to clean everything off, especially since some items might need to settle in to make them work. But after a while, you’ll start to notice your headlights looking and working their best.

What if you need to replace your headlights?

So you have tried all of the above ways to get this fixed, but just can’t? This means the issue likely has gone too far through the plastic of your headlight, probably due to rocks hitting it and sitting for a long period of time.

The best option now is to replace the headlight assembly completely. Thankfully for most cars this is not a difficult task, and I did it myself on my truck in a short period of time. This also gives you a chance to upgrade the look and feel of your vehicle as well! Changing mine out completely updated the look of the truck.

I definitely recommend taking a look here, to see if you can find some headlight assemblies that might fit your car.


Your car’s headlights are critical to your safety while on the road. Proper maintenance is necessary for ensuring they will look new and stay functional.

Check your headlights every few weeks to ensure they aren’t becoming yellow or cloudy. Be sure you also follow the proper cleaning methods to ensure your headlights stay comfortable and functional. The work should be about ensuring your car stays safe and beautiful.