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Dirty headlights double dangers:
You see less... with more dazzling for others

Dirty headlights double dangers.

14th February 2006.

Dirt on headlights is not just a bothering "detail".

It can be a real danger from our own car... or worse: from oncoming ones. We see less, and we dazzle others more.

On the one hand, dirty headlights cost light, since we don't get what we are paying for, from the bulbs to the energy derived from the engine (in terms of slight power reduction, which means at the end, more fuel consumption to get the same power).

According to an investigation by the TH Darmstadt [Technical College Darmstadt], up to 35 metres’ visibility can be lost after half an hour of driving on damp and dirty roads.

Dirty headlights dazzle oncoming drivers.

Dazzled driver: danger for anybody around.

On the other hand, the film of dirt (or dirt layer if your prefer) interferes with the optical properties of the headlight, and increased dazzling of oncoming traffic is the direct consequence.

There are two means of countering this.

One is regular cleaning. This can be stressful, as sometimes the task has to be carried out again after only a few kilometres. Furthermore, stiff brushes or scrapers must not be used, otherwise the plastic lenses of the headlights will suffer.

The other solution is a headlight cleaning system, as is standard in the case of xenon light, and otherwise usually available at extra cost.

There are two basic systems. The older type cleans using with small wipers.

More widespread are high-pressure cleaning systems which use a pressure of up to 2.5 bar to tackle the dirt.

A headlight cleaning system insures optimum light without interruption, even in dirty weather.

Of course, it is worth checking the operation of this system occasionally. Systems with wipers must not stick for instance, and their nozzles must be clear and correctly adjusted. The wiper blades wear in similar manner to those for the windscreen, and therefore require replacement at similar intervals.

In comparison, high-pressure cleaning systems are to a large extent maintenance-free. In winter, it should be ensured that they are not blocked due to ice. This applies not only to the wash water, but also to the telescopic nozzles or wiper arms. Here, a check when scraping off ice is recommended.

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