How To Protect Headlights From UV and Other Harmful Elements?


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bmw headlights close shot, clear headlights

Foggy headlights are a nightmare for every car owner. Once they become yellow, they don’t light the way well enough, and nighttime driving becomes much harder. To prevent that from happening, you should protect car headlights from the Sun’s UV rays. So today, I decided to show you how you can protect car headlights from UV and other elements and also keep them from yellowing.

On my new car, the headlights were so bad because the previous owner didn’t even try to care about them. I had to buy new ones, and you know, it’s a rip-off. I want you to avoid those costs, which can easily be accomplished by properly protecting car headlights.

After buying a new pair of headlights, I instantly did some protection steps I’ll be showing you in the article, and now, I’m 100% sure that my headlights are protected and won’t oxidize quickly.

3 Best Ways To Protect Headlights From UV and Keep Them From Yellowing or Oxidizing

Aside from regularly washing your vehicle, there are some crucial steps you should take to protect your headlights from UV rays. Luckily, you’re not limited to only one solution – and that’s great. There are three fantastic ways to protect headlights from UV rays:

  • Install headlight protection film on them
  • Apply ceramic coating on headlights
  • Apply clear headlight coating

Below, I’ll thoroughly tell you all the info about each way of protection, and also the benefits of each method.

1. Ceramic Coating – Best Overall Headlight UV Protection

For most of us, ceramic coating is the best UV protection for headlights. Even though I’m a big fan of waxes, when it comes to headlights – I think that ceramic coatings are the best option. I applied ceramic coating to my new headlights, and I’m extremely satisfied with it – I’m sure you’ll be too.

On headlights, ceramic coating last less than on the paint, and that’s because headlights are exposed to heat, road debris, rocks, etc. The ceramic coating on headlights should last anywhere between 1-3 years, depending on the quality of the coating, how much you drive a car, and under what circumstances.

Ceramic coating benefits for headlights:

  • Protection from UV rays, rock debris, minor scratching
  • Keep headlights from yellowing
  • Keep headlights clear for perfect night vision
  • Adds a hydrophobic layer to headlights, so it’s easier to wash them from bugs and dirt
  • Ease of application
  • You can apply a ceramic coating on both plastic and glass types of headlights

As you can see, there are many benefits, and those benefits are the reason why I suggest you to choose ceramic coating over other methods of headlight protection.

If you’re applying a ceramic coating to the whole vehicle, apply it to the headlights too. However, most people want to apply it to headlights only, and for that purpose, I recommend you get CERAKOTE Ceramic Headlight Restoration Kit (check the price on Amazon now). It’s probably the best ceramic coating kit for headlights that you can get out there.

Cerakote Headlight Restoration Kit

Quick Steps To Apply Ceramic Coating To Car Headlights:

  1. Wet sand headlights (if needed)
  2. Compound and polish car headlights to make them as clear as possible
  3. Thoroughly wash and dry them
  4. Apply a thin layer of ceramic coating
  5. Let it cure overnight (keep it in a garage)

Here’s a video guide on applying ceramic coating on headlights, so make sure to check it out! However, if you’re not a DIY-er or car detailer, I suggest you pay some professional detailer to apply ceramic coating to your car’s headlights.

2. Headlight Protection Film – The Longest Lasting Headlight Protection

Headlight protection films are types of PPF products specifically designed to offer the best and longest-lasting protection for car headlights. Paint protection films protect your headlights from road debris, sun damage, UV degradation, and all other harmful elements.

Headlight clear bras are the thickest and tougher protectors out there, and they’ll probably outlast any other method unless you’re using some low-quality films. Some of the best brands out there are 3M, XPEL, VVivid, Llumar. You should expect them to last anywhere between 3-5 years, sometimes even longer.

The fantastic thing about headlight films is that you can also choose some smoke or tinted films. So, if you ever wanted to get that smoke effect on your headlights or taillights, by getting high-quality protection film, you’ll also protect your lights from UV and other harmful things.

All PPFs have similar cons, and headlight protective films aren’t different by any means. Some of the most important disadvantages of headlight protection films are:

To fight those disadvantages, you should always make sure to install high-quality headlight vinyl wraps only. The one I recommend to you the most is the 3M VVivid Extra-Wide Headlight Protection Film (check now on Amazon). They have high-quality wraps that’ll last very long.

3M VVivid Headlight Film

When it comes to applying headlight vinyl wraps, it’s pretty delicate if you’re doing it 1st time. However, since the headlights aren’t large, it shouldn’t be a problem to place the film properly. Here’s a quick video guide on installing PPF on headlights.

Also, once you want to remove the film from the headlights, it’s a straightforward procedure. Just follow my guide on removing PPF from vehicles.

3. Headlight Clear Coats – Cheapest and Easiest Solution

I already talked about this when I wrote a guide on How to Clean Foggy Headlights: The Easy Way Anyone Can Do. And really, it is an extremely quick and easy way of both fixing and protecting headlights from UV damage.

Long story short, headlight clear coats are a type of clear coat specifically designed to withstand heat, UV rays, and other things that usually damage car headlights. You may ask why I put it in the 3rd place then? Well, these kinds of protectants don’t last long – you can expect them to last up to 1 year, and mostly, it’s around 6-8 months only.

As always, there are better and worse products, and the ones I recommend you are:

  1. SYLVANIA Headlight Restoration Kit (check the price on Amazon now)
  2. Meguiar’s Keep Clear Headlight Coating (check the price on Amazon now)

Application may look similar to ceramic coating, but it requires less preparation and less knowledge to do it properly. That’s why I usually recommend this method to complete beginners. And re-applying clear coats every year isn’t a problem for most people.

I’ve seen some people apply headlights clear coats on hazed headlights, don’t ever do that. If your headlights are oxidized, make sure to first fix it by wet sanding and then polishing, and then apply a clear coat. It’ll last longer, and you’ll get much better clarity. Here’s a video on how to NOT do it.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common FAQs I get asked about protecting headlights from UV and maintaining them to stay like-a-new for longer.

How Long Are New Headlights Protected From UV?

All new headlights come with some type of clear coat applied in the factory. Usually, these clear coats will keep headlights protected for around 5 years. If you regularly apply protection to your headlights, they’ll easily last 10-20 years without ever becoming yellow, faded, or oxidized.

Should I Apply Protection To New Headlights?

You should apply some type of headlight protection as soon as you buy new headlights. That way, they’ll last longer, probably much more than you’ll own the car.

What Are Other Ways To Protect Headlight From UV?

Ceramic coatings, paint protection films, and protective clear coats are the best ways to protect headlights. However, there are some other ways too: waxes, sealants, glazes, plastic restorers, ceramic sprays etc. But I don’t recommend you any of them.

Will Car Wax Protect Headlights?

Car waxes will protect headlights but only for a few weeks, and not all waxes are suitable for glass application. That’s why I don’t recommend you do it.

Are There Differences Between Plastic and Glass Headlights When It Comes To Applying UV Protection?

Mostly, there won’t be any differences, especially if you apply ceramic coatings or headlight protective films. There may only be some differences in wet sanding and buffing headlights (plastic ones tend to be easier to buff).

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