How to Clean Condensation from Inside Headlight Lenses

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Sultan asked: How do I clean a headlight lens from water?

If condensation is getting into your headlights, and there are no visible cracks or damage, there’s likely a problem with a seal, gasket or a drainage hole. In some states, waterlogged headlights won’t pass inspection. Even if you take the lenses off and dry them, the problem is likely to reoccur unless you replace all of the components.

If you’ve got a lot of water built up in your headlights, the easiest way to clear it out and keep them clear is to drill a very small hole at the bottom-most part of the headlight so water can drain. If it’s just a little condensation, the following method might work:

You Will Need:

  • Silica Gel Packs
  • Tools required to remove your headlight assembly (see your owner’s manual)
  • Lint free cloth

Steps to Remove the Condensation:

  1. Consult your vehicle owner’s manual to determine how to access the headlight assembly. Follow the instructions to gain access. This is usually accomplished by opening the hood and removing the back of the assembly or unscrewing the bulb.
  2. If you can reach inside the assembly, use a lint free cloth to wipe the moisture from inside the lens. If not, you can skip this step.
  3. Drop a silica gel pack inside the lens assembly making sure it doesn’t come into contact with the bulb.
  4. Put the headlight back together.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • You can use any silica gel packs. They are often included in new product packaging and are commonly found in white, cloth-like bags with the written message “DO NOT EAT.”
  • Make sure the gel pack does not lie in direct contact with the bulb. If there’s not enough clearance for it to sit on the bottom of the assembly without coming into contact with the bulb, do not attempt to leave it there.
  • Silica packs will absorb up to 40% of their weight in water. This will take care of most of the condensation in your lenses, however, it will not solve the problem. To fix the problem, you will need to replace the gaskets, seals, apply silica gel to all of the seams of the assembly or replace the assembly with a new one.
  • If you are required to have annual vehicle inspections, you will likely have to replace the headlight before your car will pass inspection.
  • Silica is nontoxic, nonflammable and nonhazardous.

Comments

  1. Soft shepherd says:

    One way to clean condensation from a headlight (especially useful if it is a sealed unit), and one that we used to use when I was a mechanic, is to get a large, heavy, dark material (we used to use wing protector covers) and place it over the headlight. Secure it in position, turn the headlight on to main beam, and leave until the condensation has evaporated. You of course are best to use a non-flammable material for the cover, and it is best to keep an eye on the process to avoid accidents. Be sure only to do it for as long as it takes to get rid of the condensation so as not to damage the headlight glass or lens. However, if you have condensation in your headlight, that should be investigated further at some point.

  2. Soft shepherd says:

    Can I point out that you should never put anything inside you headlight assembly. It may affect the beam pattern and may end up with you being stopped by the police and cautioned. Also, your car will certainly fail a MOT if this is in your headlight assembly.

  3. Godzilla says:

    Umm, I don’t think he meant to leave it in there. Just to absorb the moisture, then remove.

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