Home Automotive AdviceDetailing and Car Care Fog In Headlights – How To Tackle This Annoyance?

Fog In Headlights – How To Tackle This Annoyance?

by Jordan Harris
Fog In Headlights

Have you noticed how your headlights are getting foggy and the light that comes from the bulbs has a hard time shining through and you do not clearly see what is in front of you on the road? This is really unfortunate because you probably are having fog in headlights. This problem can be frustrating, to be honest, but we are going to help you out in overcoming this issue quickly and effectively.

Headlights are one of the most essential components of our cars. They illuminate the road and tell us where to go in the middle of the night. Without them, driving after sunset or in some bad weather conditions like foggy or rainy weather would be impossible and many accidents on the road are going to be caused by this lack of signalization. That’s why cleaning the fog in headlights is key in order to make sure that they are in perfect working order.

Also, foggy headlights often look really bad. They are basically filled with condensation and also oxidation. They need to go through a proper cleaning and restoring process in order to be returned to excellent condition. That’s why we are going to later explain how you can do that and rejuvenate your headlights.

In this article, we are going to learn what causes fog in headlights and what you can do to prevent this from happening to your car. Then we will see how you can properly restore your headlights and return them in OEM spec. Lastly, we will go through the cost of doing so at a shop. So, let’s get into it.

What Causes Fog In Headlights?

Every day, a ton of car owners are facing the same problem and that is fog in headlights. Nobody wants to see foggy headlights on their car (you can repair this by learning how to fix foggy headlights). Primarily, they don’t look particularly good and they ruin the looks of your car. Secondarily, they also impair your driving ability under harsh conditions.

Fog In Headlights

They reduce your visibility at night and often impair you from properly seeing objects in the distance. This can affect your driving and could possibly involve you in an accident. And you don’t want that to be honest. That’s why you need to sort this thing out as soon as possible. More about the methods of cleaning we are going to cover later. Now let’s see what is causing this fog in headlights in the first place. Knowing this will help you how to tackle the problem quickly and effectively.

Water Vapor

Water vapor is one of the primary reasons why your headlights get foggy. The root cause for this issue is that your headlights are not sealing properly.

In order not to have condensation on the inside of the headlights. The headlights have to be properly sealed around the edges. On some cars, if someone has been messing with the lights or by deterioration, this seal is no longer present. So, the water evaporation gets inside of the headlight housing and makes your headlight foggy.

This is really annoying and can make a lot of people angry. Especially if they have just purchased the car. But you shouldn’t worry because we are going to explain how you can tackle this problem later in the article. Now let’s see the other reasons why this fog in headlights happens.

Debris On The Road

Debris on the road can also make your headlights foggy. This is the case mostly in the winter. Road debris will glue onto the headlights and will impair the light from properly protruding and illuminating the road in front of you.

This is why some cars implement something called a headlight washer. These washers are spraying cleaner onto the headlights and cleaning them from all of the debris.

But unfortunately, not all cars have this option and, in most cases, you will have to do this cleaning all by yourself with a cleaning solution and paper towels or with a microfiber towel. These ways are the easiest ones to clean the fog in headlights quickly and effectively without any issues and continue driving.

Dirt Buildup

If the headlights do not seal properly, there could also be dirt buildup on the inside of the headlight housing.

If there is something loose, then it is fairly easy for dirt to enter the housing and cause fog in headlights to appear. Especially if you are living in the southwest where the climate is dry and there is not much water.

The dust in the wind will enter the headlight housing and cause the dust particles to form and a layer of dirt is the outcome of this situation. Cleaning and resealing the headlight would be the only solution to tackle this problem and later we are going to explain how you can do it.


And we came to the important bit. The number reason for fog in headlights is probably oxidation. But what is oxidation? Let’s elaborate.

Oxidation is a process that damages the lenses of the headlights. The headlights are made out of plastic that has a layer of UV protection on them.

Unfortunately, this UV protective layer starts to decompose from all of the UV light that gets on a daily basis from the sun.

Then as the UV layer degrades, it starts to peel off. Eventually, there would be no layer of protection on the headlights and then the sun will heat the plastic from which the lenses are made of.

It will make them yellow and foggy. This will eventually damage the looks of your headlights. As well as the performance of the headlights for driving in the night.

Oxidation is the number one enemy to modern cars that have plastic headlights and you need to do everything you can to prevent it from happening. That’s why in the next chapter we are going to cover precisely that.

What You Can Do About To Prevent The Fog In Headlights To Appear?

Prevention is the first line of defense for anything. You need to be a step ahead from anything out there and make sure that you are in control or things will control you and you will pay thousands of dollars in the long run. And you don’t want that to happen to you.

That’s why you need to be aware of the problem with the headlights and learn that they often go bad caused by oxidation and moisture. That’s why you need to do everything in your power to prevent this from affecting the headlights. But what are the steps that you can do in order to make sure that your headlights do not oxidize? Let’s find out.

Park Your Car In A Temperature Controlled Garage

Parking the vehicle in a temperature-controlled environment is key in preserving it. Although cars are designed to withstand the temperature fluctuations that are present. They still get some damage to them if they are exposed to these elements for a longer period of time.

For example, if your car is exposed to a lot of humidity, it is highly likely that you are going to get fog in headlights and rust on the components that are most frequently affected by the elements like the undercarriage.

Salty environments like places near the Atlantic Ocean like New York will eat through your car like butter and will basically trash your car in only a few years if you drive it all day through the winter. This is the case because the salt level is enormous and the salt is metal’s worst nightmare.

Fog In Headlights

Parking also plays a huge role in preserving the vehicle right and making sure that no damage is done to the paint and rust buildup becomes an issue.

That’s why you need to park the car in a garage that has low humidity levels and the temperature is controlled. This means that the house air conditioning is working and is heating the garage as well. Not too much, but on a moderate level.

If you don’t have the ability to maintain the temperatures in your garage, at least make sure that there are low moisture levels. Low moisture levels are going to protect the car from possible rust buildup and also will make sure that there is no fog in headlights. There are also some other tricks in the books that you can do that we are going to cover next.

Clean Your Car Often To Remove Fog In Headlights

Cleaning your car is one of the mandatory things that you can do in order to make sure that no damage is done to it. And also to preserve it. Because with cleaning, you will be able to spot the problem and quickly react.

This quick reaction will make sure that the problem does not spread and the car will keep its immaculate condition and the headlights will remain clear.

Getting the right solution for cleaning your headlights will also be one of the top priorities for you as an owner because not every car likes the same solutions. You need to do your research and learn how to maintain the cleanliness of the headlights at any given time.

Using a clean microfiber towel is also a must. Microfiber towels are nice and soft. They will guarantee that there are no scratches on the UV protective layer of the headlight.

Because only a minor scratch, could possibly damage the UV protective layer and this scratch is going to allow the bad UV rays to enter the plastic and corrode it. That’s why making sure that you always clean the headlights and adding an extra protective layer is an excellent idea. And that’s what we are going to cover in the next chapter.

Add Ceramic Coating

Ceramic coating is one of the hottest things right now on the market. The ceramic coating is a solution that you apply on paint, plastic, or any material. The ceramic coating basically coats the component and does not allow the elements to go through it and damage the paint (like not knowing how to remove Plasti Dip). Or in this case with the headlights is the UV protective layer.

This solution is not something new. But it gained a lot of traction in the last years like a problem solver for a lot of car-related problems.

The pros of the ceramic coating are that you apply a lot less compared to other solutions and with a single bottle you can cover the whole car. Also, the ceramic coating does not allow water to stick on the paint and the paint gets washed a lot quicker compared to non-ceramic coated paint.

And not only that the ceramic coat protects the car from UV lights. It also protects the paint from light scratches and makes sure that your UV layer on the headlights is always in top condition. But my headlights are fogged from the inside. How do I fix them? Let’s find out in the next chapter.

How To Repair Fog In Headlights From Condensation DIY?

Headlights as we learned can get fog from both the inside and the outside. In the following chapters, we are going to learn how to fix both types of fog in headlights quickly and effectively at home using common tools.

This will be the perfect DIY job that you can do at home as a beginner mechanic. Since it doesn’t require a lot of expertise by your side and you can tackle the problem quickly and effectively. By doing this, you will also save a ton of money that you will pay to mechanics in order to get this problem sorted out. That’s why you should never think twice before trying out some things like this. That’s how you will build experience and move on to some things that are more complicated.

First, we are going to learn how to repair headlights from condensation issues, and in the following chapters, we will learn how to restore headlights from UV damage permanently. So, let’s get into it.

Step 1

The first step in this process would be removing the headlight from the vehicle. This is essential to do since you need to repair the headlight from the inside and getting the moisture from the inside is almost impossible to do if you don’t remove the headlight. You need to find the bolts that are holding the headlight and then remove them one by one. The next thing would be to pop out the headlight and disconnect all of the connectors for the lights. Then place the headlight on a working surface.

Step 2

Once you have removed the headlight and placed it on a table. The next thing would be to remove the lens. The lens is held by a couple of tabs. If you have a condensation issue then it’s highly likely that some of the tabs are broken.

Step 3

After removing the lens now it’s time to give everything a good and thorough cleaning. Make sure that you clean the lens and also the ventilation holes to allow the headlight to breathe properly and you do not get condensation in the future.

Step 4

Once everything is nice and clean. The next thing would be to seal the headlight. Presuming that some of the tabs are broken. In order to perform this work, you will need silicone glue. You can find this glue at almost any parts store for a good deal. Also, you will need a gun to lay the silicone onto the headlight nice and even.

Step 5

Now it’s time to lay the glue. Make sure that you cover all of the edges of the headlight with silicone and then apply the lens. Make sure that there are no leaks and everything is sealing nicely and properly. This will guarantee that your work will not be in vain and the headlight will not get foggy again. Then leave the headlight overnight and wait for the glue to seal and there are no leaks.

Step 6

The last step will require mounting everything back in its place and making sure that everything is well and connected. This will guarantee that your work is successful and you did a good job. After this, you can enjoy your headlights in the future.

This tutorial is for condensation in headlights. In the next chapter, we are going to explain how to repair an external fog in headlights. Also called oxidation.

How To Repair Fog In Headlights Caused By UV Damage DIY?

Now it’s time to discuss how to properly repair a UV-damaged headlight. This tutorial would be of great aid for many people out there. Because we are going to learn how to do this thing right and permanently. It will cost you a bit more but it will be worth it in the long run because you will have your headlights restored to the factory spec.

This will also boost your car’s resale value. Because the looks tell everything. And nobody would be even able to tell that the headlights on your car are refinished. That’s why you should buckle up because there is a lot to cover.

Step 1

The first thing you need to do before doing anything is to mask off the area that is surrounding the headlight and make sure that there is nothing left behind. Because even if you leave a single dot, you will scratch the paint and will cause permanent damage to the paint job of your car. That’s why mask off everything that is around.

Step 2

Step 2 involves starting with the sanding process. You will need to start with something like 400-grit sandpaper and then move up to 2000 or even finer. You need to get sandpaper that was designed for wet sanding. Because if you are dry sanding, you will ruin the headlight.

Go with the hardest grit sandpaper in order to remove the remaining UV protective layer. Then move on and go even finer. Just make sure that you don’t remove too much material since the headlight lens is only a few millimeters thick. Go easy on it and take your time. For more insight, check out our guide on how to clean headlight lens.

Once you came to the end of the sanding process. Now it’s time to move on to the next step that will be the paint.

Step 3

Now it’s time to mask off the surrounding of the headlight with a bunch of masking tape and paper. You don’t want to get overspray on your paint. This will ruin your paint job. That’s why mask the bumper, hood, fender, wheel. Mask everything you can get.

Step 4

After you finished with the masking process. Now it’s time to move on to the painting process. For painting, you will need 100% alcohol. You need to clean off the headlight and make sure that no residue from the sanding process is left behind. This will guarantee the longevity of the job.

The next thing you need to do is to paint the headlight with a UV protective layer. You can find these at any hardware store and one spray can would be enough for both of the headlights.

Spray one layer of the UV protective layer. Once the first coat dries off a little bit. Spray another layer, if there is a need, even a third layer would be required.

Then leave the headlight like this for a couple of hours so the UV layer dries. Then you are good to go. No more fog in headlights and your headlights are going to look like factory headlights once again.

Cost To Repair Fog In Headlights

This is a good question. The cost to do all this work at home is not going to cost you a lot of money. Less than $50 for all of the supplies that you need to get to perform this work. Which is a good deal to be honest. Considering that a new headlight is more than $500.

Headlight Moisture Removal: Need-to-Know Facts

  1. Moisture inside your headlight assembly can reduce your nighttime vision.
  2. Minor condensation can be removed by checking and clearing the headlight housing vent.
  3. Major condensation requires removing the headlight unit, using a hairdryer, and possibly removing the seal.
  4. Silica gel packs can be used to soak up remaining moisture in the headlight assembly.
  5. The key to preventing further moisture is creating a strong seal.
  6. Silicone spray can protect O-rings and silicone sealant gel can repair cracks in the seal between the lens and housing.
  7. After resealing, check that all brackets and electrical connectors are firmly in place.
  8. Routine inspection of the headlight is necessary to ensure proper sealing.
  9. The same issue may appear on the other headlight, so it is important to keep an eye on both.
  10. If the headlight is severely damaged or still collects moisture, it may be time for a headlight assembly replacement.

Conclusion – Fog In Headlights

In this article, we have covered a lot when it comes to fog in headlights. Firstly, we learned why does it appear. Then we have covered the ways to protect your car from the elements and we gave you some tips on what you can do to keep your car nice and clean.

Then we have covered how to fix condensation in headlights. And as well oxidation from headlights. Both of these tutorials are going to be of great use if you have faced some of these problems that know to trouble quite a lot of people. Lastly, we have covered the prices when it comes to fixing this problem. It’s dirt cheap if you do it by yourself.

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