Are your headlight lenses getting cloudy?

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Daniel J. Stern wrote:
>>> North American-market Explorer headlamps used a plastic lens and a >>> plastic reflector.
>Jack wrote:
>> OMG! They were plastic -- and I loved them? >> >> Eeeeuuuuwwww.

Well, one dislikes being fooled -- but they sure LOOKED good!
Jack
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mirrors.
Regarding this matter, when I first bought my 98 Explorer, lots of oncoming motorists flashed their highbeams at me. I took it back to the dealer and told them the lights were misadjusted. They told me they were correctly adjusted. My friend's 2001 Kia Sportage had the same problem, the lights would shine right into the passenger compartment of the car in front of me, even if I was back 100'. I ended up adjusting my lights myself and that improved my visibility and stopped the flashing from oncoming drivers. Factories make errors.
-- Take care,
Mark & Mary Ann Weiss
VIDEO PRODUCTION . FILM SCANNING . DVD MASTERING . AUDIO RESTORATION Hear my Kurzweil Creations at: http://www.dv-clips.com/theater.htm Business sites at: www.dv-clips.com www.mwcomms.com www.adventuresinanimemusic.com -
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It wasn't until years after I bought my Explorer that I got into souped-up flashlights. I own a 10,000,000 candlepower spotlight and did some Googling on it, and came across a forum called Candlepowerforums.com which is populated with serious flashlight enthusiasts (I never knew such an interest group existed). I spent some time on those forums and got a real education about how lamps, reflectors and bulb efficiencies affect lumens output. I learned that wattage does not equal lumens. One of the things I discovered about my spotlight and another Brinkman Q-Beam that I bought over 25 years ago, was that the reflectors are first surface mirrors of very high optical quality. Contrasted with the hazy, porous aluminum evaporative coating on Ford's plastic reflectors, I now understand why even my 100W 9007 bulbs failed to produce as much usable light as my Mitsubishi's 55W lamps. If you open the back of the lamp service compartment on the Ford while the lights are on at night, you'll notice where all the light that's not hitting the road is going--inside the compartment--a significant amount of light penetrates the reflective coating. I'm not saying that the lenses don't play an equally important role, but the role of the reflectors has not been discussed in Ford forums as far as I have read. The guys on Candlepowerforums are designing their own flashlights, or modifying commercial models costing up to $3000 each. I never realized there was so much science to headlamps, but the technical discussions there have been VERY illuminating (pun intended).

It is a '98 model. It has three problems: Very low current-handling wiring Bad lenses Bad reflectors.

I was blaming beam patterns initially, but I came to realize they are not the whole issue.

When the plastic reflectors have a few hours on them, they start to get clouded. The heat of the lamps begins to break down the plastic and the coating, causing microscopic rippling of the surface, and that begins to scatter the light, rather than reflect it at precise angles.

Indeed, but it's what that aluminum is deposited on that determines how well it holds up. My '98 Ford may have been much better when new, but when I bought it off lease (3 years old), the lighting sucked then. Some of the newer cars have really shiny, polished reflectors and clear lenses and they do provide nice lighting. I drove a friend's Kia Sportage and it had mediocre lighting. Two years later, he bought a Kia Sedona, and the lighting was MUCH better--I could drive on an interstate with just lowbeams and have plenty of light where it needed to be.
I really wish Ford would have a recall on these headlights. I'm about to drive 1150 miles to FL and I am forced to plan my trip around daylight, rather than take advantage of less traffic overnight.
-- Take care,
Mark & Mary Ann Weiss
VIDEO PRODUCTION . FILM SCANNING . DVD MASTERING . AUDIO RESTORATION Hear my Kurzweil Creations at: http://www.dv-clips.com/theater.htm Business sites at: www.dv-clips.com www.mwcomms.com www.adventuresinanimemusic.com -
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In our business we see plenty of high mileage older Explores that do not have clouded leases. Regardless of brand or model clouded headlamp covers are a result of poor maintenance, period. Lens cover should be polished to prevent the clouding. There are several commercially available lens cleaners the will remove the clouding. One can then keep them clear by applying a polymer polish on occasion
mike hunt

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polished
I do polish mine regularly, but there is nothing I can do about the reflectors inside. My lenses are pitted from sandblast on the highway, so I use polish to fill in some of the smaller pitting to increase clarity. It barely makes a difference, but at least I'm extending the life of the lens.
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What polish do you use or it's equally hopless. I am thinking of a plastic polish: 1. Blue Magic, Pep Boys 2. Meguiar's PastX, directly from Meguiar.com 3. Have seen special kits and polishes from Novus #1 #2 #3, 3M, and other. If you used the really tough plastic polish, #3 for example, would it matter or there not much more to polish before something goes south?
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On Thu, 22 Sep 2005, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

TR3-brand car polish, green label.
Remember, you're *not* polishing plastic; you're polishing the hardcoat applied to the surface of the plastic -- essentially buffing-out a chalky paint job.
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Why do you put up with having to periodically polish headlamp lenses? It is not a maintenance item covered in your manual. We should go after the car mfgrs somehow for putting out an usafe, mediocre product, like a class-action something or other. These things are a hazard to everyone, and Neons are the worst out there, some lenses are opaque. The 96 model year is just starting to turn cloudy. Rick
wrote:

TR3-brand car polish, green label.
Remember, you're *not* polishing plastic; you're polishing the hardcoat applied to the surface of the plastic -- essentially buffing-out a chalky paint job.
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Rick wrote:

Umm - because life's too short? If you start jousting at windmills over this, where do you stop? Windshiled wipers that don't work right below 29F? Window motors that fail? Window lift brackets that fail? Brakes that vibrate?
Bill Putney (To reply by e-mail, replace the last letter of the alphabet in my address with the letter 'x')
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Rick is one of those "my car has Warranty for life, guys" Doesn't matter what, nothing should ever break, or get worn out. Christ, I'm surprised the fact he has to change his engine oil was not brought up. Oh, and the tid-bit in the manual about washing a car properly is a waste too. Since it does not specifically mention headlights! Lets not mention the fact that the headlamps are covered under the basic warrany, but yes sand abrasion, and fogging due to the increased UV rays, from air polution is the manufacturers problem.
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David wrote:

It's probably a good idea to put in UV 400 protection into almost everything. I believe it's standard in plastics like CR39 for eyeglasses although they try to charge for UV coating. And polycarbonate and glass naturally have UV 400 protection. I don't know the details of how much all the above protect from ultra-violet rays.
If there is increased UV now because of thinning of the ozone layer, then this is a probably everywhere from our eyeballs to auto lenses.
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No, David, I'm just discouraged by D-C's (and other mfgrs) trend towards using pisspoor quality parts, like changing clocksprings, front stabilizer bar bushings, head gaskets and other items that fail at 36,001 miles, thats all. Read the litany of complaints in this NG, its all there. I dont think your personal attacks are very productive, since you know nothing about how I maintain my vehicles.
--
Rick

"David" < snipped-for-privacy@cox.net> wrote in message
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For one thing we know for sure is you obviously did not provide the proper maintenance for you headlamp covers or they would not have degraded ;)

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Mike Hunter wrote:

Let's see, proper maintenance, I missed that in the owner's manual and the shop manual. Is there a section on polishing your headlamp lenses? What do they recommend anything in particular? Any time periods, like once every six months? I had always thought the headlights were like the brake lights, don't need anything to keep them clear - silly me :)
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

proper
;)
and
lenses?
like
:)
the headlamp fluid must be changed every 30k!
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Silly you, obviously you thought wrong. Particularly when you failed to do anything when the lens covers first started to degrade. There are any number of things on an automobile that require preventive maintenance over time that are not specifically listed in the manual. What is in the manual are those MINIMUM warranty requirements you must complete to avoid negating warranty coverage. By the way tail lamp covers will degrade over time as well
mike hunt

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Mike Hunter wrote:

I was not in possession of the vehicle when it started to degrade and I guess it did not bother my friend who was. When it was brought to my attention by a mechanic, I cleaned up the lenses. The mechanic wanted about $400. I spent about $1 on Meguiar's PlastX which is a little pouch filled with something that looks like toothpaste.
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That easy, apply a little polymer polish on occasion and the lenses will not become cloudy.
mike hunt

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~fbloogyudsr wrote: ~
~> ~>> Matthew Russotto wrote: ~> ~> ~>>> All the light is ultimately absorbed and converted to heat. ~>> ~>> ~>> Your other points are well taken, but to figure usefulness of a bulb, ~>> I think that measuring light output (even if it later gets converted ~>> to heat) for wattage input is definitely a measure of its efficacy. ~>> Certainly you can see that. ~>> ... ~>> Same with the energy of burning fuel to move a car. Eventually it all ~>> gets eaten up by friction (bearings, tires, brakes) and turns to heat. ~>> Yet we don't say the efficiency of a car is zero because all the ~>> energy released from the fuel eventually ends up as heat. Pretty much ~>> that that is not immediately converted to heat (heating up the ~>> coolant, block, various other engine parts, and air moving thru the ~>> radiator) that goes into moving the vehicle is what gets plugged into ~>> the efficiency formula as the output - even though ultimately it alll ~>> gets converted to heat. ~> ~> ~> That's not really a very good analogy, Bill. ALL the output of ~> a light bulb is electromagnetic radiation - visible or infrared light. ~> SOME of the (heat) energy from a IC motor is converted to ~> physical work (acceleration of the car). ~ ~ ~Which EVENUTALLY gets converted to heat, either when you step on the ~brakes (flat land) or eventually travel back downhill to the same ~elevation you started at and step on the brakes. ~ ~I think its a pretty good analogy. Yes, EVERYTHING that causes a ~conversion of energy will ultimately just result in a slight increase of ~ the entropy of the universe, whether it be turning on a light bulb, ~driving a car, or the solar radiation from a star. But in the interim ~period, you can distinguish between a "useful" output (the visible light ~portion of the spectrum as it emanates from a light bulb filamant) vs a ~sort of "direct to waste" output (the thermal radiation from an ~incandescent lamp). ~ ~> FYI, one reason that fluorescents aren't 100% "efficacy" (if you ~> will ;->) is that most emit some portion of their output in the UV ~> portion of the spectrum (usually a pretty small amount, some ~> more than others. That's why many are behind diffusers of one ~> kind or another.) ~ ~And they also put out heat- feel a running fluorescent tube. You can ~keep your hand on it (unlike an incandescent lamp of identical input ~power) but it is warm. And the ballast gets warm as well. ~
Back to high school physics. Energy can never be created or destroyed, but it can be converted into other forms of energy. Heat to Light etc.
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