14th February 2006.
Dirt on headlights is not just a
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.
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.