The next time you go outside in the daylight to drive your car, before you get behind the wheel, crouch down and inspect your headlights. If you see a cloudy film on the surface of your headlights, that means they have become oxidized. While this isn’t an eyesore, it can cause potentially hazardous driving conditions at night.

The film caused by oxidation scatters the light from your headlights in all directions. This is doubly dangerous, since not only does it make it harder for you to see the road clearly at night, but it can also create glare for oncoming traffic.

There are three potential remedies for oxidized headlights:


This is a quick fix that can work temporarily. Take a plain white toothpaste—actual paste, not gel—and rub it on your headlights with an old toothbrush or your finger, then buff it off with a cloth in a circular motion until all the paste is gone.

Be warned: certain toothpastes with abrasives like cooling crystals can do permanent damage to your headlights. 

While cleaning headlights with toothpaste seems like an easy fix, it only lasts a few months, and could damage your headlights. Toothpaste is obviously not designed to buff headlights, so if you use this fix, do so at your own risk.


You can buy do-it-yourself headlight refinishing kits at auto shops or online. If you have the time and the patience—it can be a bit time-consuming—this can be a relatively inexpensive fix that will last. 

Make sure to buy a kit that has a final protective coating in its list of materials; this is the key to make sure this fix is long-lasting. Follow the instructions on the kit closely.


Many auto body repair shops offer professional headlight restoration. If you choose this service, be sure to research a few different places to get a range for quality of work, expense, and length of warranty.

This is the safest bet to protect your investment in your vehicle, and is also the longest-lasting solution of the three. But it can be cost-prohibitive. Factor in how long you’ve had your vehicle and how many years you intend to keep it before committing to this solution.

Hopefully this sheds a little light on the situation.

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The content of this article is for informational purposes only. AAA does not guarantee any particular outcome.

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