Clouded headlights are not just a cosmetic problem
Typical headlights pre 1990's were made with glass. These glass headlights never had the oxidization problem like the plastic type does. On the other hand there was a limitation on the shape of the lens.
Polycarbonate (plastic) Headlights
New vehicle design required more complex and aero-dynamic headlight shapes requiring new materials like polycarbonate (plastic)
Polycarbonate is a strong plastic, perfect for taking on harsh road conditions without breaking, but it doesn’t play well with the sun.
Why do headlights turn clouded or yellow
To protect polycarbonate lights manufacturers coat the lenses with a UV protective film. Over time this film is destroyed by UV rays, allowing the plastic to oxidize.
Cloudy headlights increase your risk of accident:
Oxydation causes headlights to shine less brightly, which is dangerous for the driver and others on the road.
If you have cloudy or worn and yellow headlights you are taking a big and unnecessary risk when you drive at night. According to the AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety:
An average of 9 out of every 10 cars on the road today has dirty or yellowed headlights that greatly reduce vision and need to be replaced, repaired or restored.
Cloudy headlights reduce light output:
Most people do not know that not only do worn or cloudy headlights look bad, but they also reduce light output by as much as 95 percent. That is a huge difference in whether you can effectively see or be seen when driving at night.
Cloudy headlights increase the severity of accidents
According to the National Institute For Highway Safety accidents caused by reduced light output and bad or cloudy headlights tend to also be much more severe because they happen at night or in low visibility conditions like rain, snow or fog
What can you do about it?
You should definitely take care of the problem, it’s only going to get worse
You can get new headlights but today headlights can cost from $300 upwards of $1500, that’s without installation
You can buy an off the shelf headlight restoring kit but it’s, at best, a temporary solution and you will likely have to do it again a few months down the road.
You may not want to tackle the project yourself or your headlights maybe beyond the restoring abilities of off the shelf product or you want a long term yet affordable solution then it’s time to bring your car to a professional.