FOR many drivers, it's not until they slip from the city and let their car wind down a country road that they realize just how little help they're getting from their headlights.
Andrew Twine, service manager at Canadian Tire on Main Street in North Vancouver, says he's seen a lot of drivers who are only getting a dim view of the road.
"There are a lot of cars around with the cloudy, fogged headlights," he says.
Rain, snow, bugs, dirt, and ultraviolet light can all play a part in generating a layer of oxidation on the protective plastic around the headlight. Over time, that oxidation can turn a formerly crisp light into a shadow of its former self.
That lack of vision can become dangerous when drivers venture from the bright lights of the big city.
"When you're on a darker road without illumination from street lamps, you can't see," Twine says, discussing that inopportune time when some drivers discover their headlights are clouded. "Highbeam, low-beam, you can't see because the lenses are so foggy. You can put whatever bulb you want in there, it still doesn't work because the light is being completely diffused."
To remedy this problem, Canadian Tire offers a headlight restoration kit which includes buffing pads of various coarseness.
After cleaning the plastic area with soap and water and using masking tape to border the headlight, the buffing can begin.
The pads need to be mounted on a power drill. Each session takes between 15 and 20 minutes, and the buffing pads gradually go from being quite coarse to very fine.
The kit also contains plastic polish.
"You end up with a product which is pretty difficult to tell from brand new. It works exceedingly well," Twine says.
Besides being effective, the method is also a good way to save money.
"Your replacement cost of lights can be $150 to $200 and up, each. This service is about $150," Twine says.
The system does not work on glass.