Ask the Mechanic: How do I clean my foggy headlights?

A good bulb from a reputable manufacturer can last anywhere from two to three years. PHOTO BY MARK KAWALYA

What you need to know:

  • This problem can be fixed with the use of headlight restoration kits and polish. Frequently used home remedies include the use of abrasive materials such as toothpaste to wipe over the haze.

Please take me through safely cleaning my car’s foggy headlights. I have tried a few things but nothing works. Joan 

Hello Joan, most of the post-2000 car headlights are made of polycarbonate or acrylic plastic material called plexiglass. Although this plastic material is strong, it tends to become foggy with a yellow haze when its thin protective film wears after prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (sun) rays.  

This problem can be fixed with the use of headlight restoration kits and polish. Frequently used home remedies include the use of abrasive materials such as toothpaste to wipe over the haze.

Whereas these work in the short term, they will not restore the UV protective layer and if used wrongly, will leave permanent scratch marks on your headlights. Instead, use a professional headlight restoration kit together with the purpose-made headlight restoration polish. 

This polish will not only restore the clarity of your headlights but also provide a UV sealant to protect the headlights from sun rays which cause damage in the first place. This will ensure that the problem does not reoccur in the short term. Reputable headlight cleaners come with a cleaning kit and instructions on how to use them safely.

Which of these four cars should I buy?

Hello Paul, could you help me compare the following cars? I am interested in comparing the Land Cruiser Prado SX diesel 30 to the Harrier 2.2 petrol, as well as the Toyota Carina to the Toyota Caribu. Thanks, Rita. 

Hello Rita, the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado 3.0-litre diesel is a full-sized Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), whereas the Toyota Harrier 2.2-litre petrol is a mid-sized SUV. As a result, the Prado is larger, heavier, has a more powerful engine, provides more space for passengers and luggage, and is, therefore, generally more comfortable.

However, the smaller Harrier offers better road drivability and handling due to its lower and more aerodynamic profile. 

The Harrier is easier to park in the busy city centre, and overall engine maintenance is cheaper than that of the Prado’s turbo diesel motor as they age. 

The bigger Prado engine has better fuel economy because diesel fuel provides more kilometres per litre.

The Toyota Prado is best for heavy-duty off-road activities and large family excursions into rural areas, while the Harrier is more suitable for daily urban driving with occasional highway trips for limited outdoor adventures.

The choice between the two depends on your level of adventure and budget. If you are more adventurous and have a larger budget, go for the Prado. 

If you prefer a more modest terrain capability and have a smaller budget, the Harrier is a better option. 

The Toyota Carina is a sedan saloon, while the Carib is a small full-time 4WD estate vehicle. The Carina provides more spacious seating, while the Carib has more generous storage space.

The Carib’s seating and cargo layout is functional and suitable for a small family’s long-distance road trip and outdoor lifestyle. The 4WD feature proves useful on slippery terrain, making it appealing for motorists who enjoy flexible driving on both urban and rural road networks.

The Carina handles better on the road at higher speeds due to its better efficiency of drag and lower centre of gravity.  With the Carib’s narrower wheelbase, it is best not to drive it too fast through bends. 

Both cars are easy to maintain and offer reasonable fuel economy. The Carib also offers the efficient small 1.5-litre engine as an option.