A current trend in the automotive industry is to blackout a vehicle. That includes tinting the windows dark, installing black nameplates and emblems, black rims, and black tinted light assemblies.
Aftermarket parts and accessories achieve the same look, and one way of doing so is with headlight covers. Headlight covers are made of plastic and are usually tinted translucent black, though they are also available in other colors or clear.
The translucent plastic looks black in appearance until the headlights are turned on, then the headlights are clearly visible as if the headlight covers weren’t present at all. Headlight covers serve several purposes. They protect the headlight assemblies from rock or debris damage when driving and prevent oxidation on your headlight assemblies. They also provide a sleek European feel and personal touch for your car.
Installing headlight covers is a straightforward process that has dramatic results in just a few minutes.
Part 1 of 2: Prep your headlight assemblies
Headlight covers adhere to the outside of your headlight assemblies over the clear lens. You need to ensure the headlight is completely clean in order to achieve long-lasting adhesion and clear illumination.
Step 1: Wash headlights. Wash your headlight assemblies with soap and water.
Mix soap and water in your bucket according to the instructions on the car wash soap container. Wash your headlamp assemblies thoroughly with a sponge saturated in the soapy water, being sure to scrub until you no longer feel any dirt or grit on the headlight assemblies.
Step 2: Rinse the headlights. Rinse the headlights with clean water until suds are longer present in the water running off.
Step 3: Dry headlights. Wipe your headlights with a microfiber cloth to dry them completely.
Wring out the cloth if it becomes saturated. Let your car sit for at least 30 minutes to allow any water droplets remaining in the area to dissipate.
Give one last wipe with your cloth to ensure the headlights are dry and clean.
Step 4: Remove oxidation. Inspect your headlights to make sure they are clean and the lenses are clear of oxidation.
Oxidation presents as a hazy white appearance on your headlight lens. It often feels gritty or rough. If oxidation is present, remove the oxidation from your headlights before proceeding to the installation.
Part 2 of 2: Install the headlight covers
Installing your headlight covers is a straightforward process that doesn’t require special tools or equipment to achieve a professional result. Make sure you start with clean headlights for the best possible results.
- Warning: Installing headlight covers onto headlights that have not been properly cleaned can result in the light from your headlight bulbs refracting before leaving the headlight assembly, reducing your visible light range. This may also cause the adhesive tape used to secure the headlight covers to release prematurely.
Step 1: Open hood. Lift your hood and secure it in the open position.
With your hood open, you can more easily install your headlight covers than with the hood closed.
Pre-fit the headlight covers to be sure they are the correct ones and are not deformed in any way before you try and install them only to find out one of them is not formed correctly.
Step 2: Wipe headlight with alcohol. Wipe the driver’s side headlight assembly with an alcohol pad. Check the inside of the cover for anything on the inside of the lens covers before installation.
Wipe all the way to the edges with the alcohol pad, ensuring the areas where the two-sided tape will be applied are clean.
- Note: The alcohol pad is included with the headlight cover installation kit.
Step 3: Remove protective cover. Remove the protective cover on the two-sided tape on the backside of the headlight cover.
- Warning: Be careful not to touch the exposed two-sided tape or get it dirty or dusty.
Step 4: Align the cover and lens. Line up the driver’s side headlight cover with the headlight lens.
Step 5: Fit the cover onto the lens. Slide the headlight cover into place over top of the headlight lens.
If there are alignment tabs on the headlight cover, make sure they fit around the headlight lens properly. Press the two-sided tape firmly to ensure a tight fit.
Step 6: Put cover on passenger side. Repeat steps 1 through 5 for the passenger side headlight cover as well.
Tip: Headlight covers are manufactured as a direct fit for each vehicle. Don’t attempt to install headlight covers intended for another make or model as they will not fit properly and may not adhere to your headlights well.
Warning: Caring for your headlight covers is as easy as washing with gentle car wash soap and water, but it’s not advised to go through automatic car washes with brushes as the brushes can get stuck on the edges of the headlight cover and damage the covers or your vehicle.
Adding headlight covers is a popular way to achieve a new look for your car. Not only is this aesthetically appealing, but it can protect your headlights as well. If you are confused about the process, Ask a Mechanic for help, and if a headlight is not working, one of our certified mobile mechanics would be glad to inspect it for you.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Add Headlight Covers and was authored by Jason Unrau.