Let it be brighter (at night)…


For sometime now I have been driving around with dirty headlights and it’s been affecting my driving at night. Even though I have upgraded the power of my Halogen bulbs, it still seemed a bit weak. The headlights of my car are still the original ones with the glass material for the lens. The lens on the newer cars are made of plastic. Years ago, it was easy for me to just remove the headlight assembly and clean them. The past few months I was just too darn lazy.

Last week, I decided to take them down and clean them. What motivated me to clean them? I was having a hard time seeing things at night while driving. And I was missing the lights of my old Pajero with its Hella round 7.5-inch headlights with 100-watt bulbs, and they were aligned properly. I started off by making sure that the sun was out so I could dry the headlight units thoroughly and starting early in the day to get the most sunlight. I first removed the front grill and the side marker lights to get access to the mounting nuts and screws. Before going any further, it would be “wise” to remove the negative line of the battery to avoid any surprises. I also disconnected the terminal for the bulbs and after removing the mounting nuts and screws with a bit of persuasion, the headlights were free from their mounting.

For cleaning, I used liquid dishwashing soap and water. I washed the outside of the housing first. Then I mixed water and liquid dishwashing soap in a small clean container before pouring it inside the housing. While sloshing it around, you could see all the dirt being mixed with water and soap solution. After a while, I rinsed the housing with running water until all the soap was washed out. For a final rinse, I used purified drinking water to avoid having water spots. With some help from an air compressor with an air duster attachment, I removed all the water from inside the housing. Then I used a pair of chopsticks and paper towel to dry the inside of the lens and the reflector. Using my fingers also helped. For a final drying, I left the headlight assemblies outside under the sun for a few hours to dry them.

After installing the headlights and using them that night, I realized that there was some moisture on the lens. It meant that I was not dry enough. So I had to remove them again the next day and dry them properly. I let them sit for the whole day. While waiting for them to dry, I decided to check the relays of the headlights. The security guard in my area said that the lights were flickering on and off sometime ago late at night. And a while back, I noticed that after turning off the headlights, it would flicker also.

So I went through my stash looking for some Bosch relays. Since my headlights were using 100-watt bulbs instead of the stock 55-watt bulbs, relays were installed to make sure the electrical system could handle the extra load and prevent damage to the main headlight relay and switch. So, I found a Bosch unit and a Hella unit. I replaced both relays for the bright and dim circuit.

So now I am enjoying the brighter headlights while driving at night… a little bit more adjusting for the aim of the headlights and I am good. If ever you decide to do the same for your car, there are shops that offer this kind of service. But if you wish to do it yourself, be sure to have the necessary tools and patience beside you. It’s an easy job. Even I had problems the first time I did it. It’s a no brainer thing.


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