Have you ever gone to your car in the morning only to find that the headlights are filled with moisture? This is caused by water condensation and can dim your headlights. But will the moisture go away on its own, or do you have to manually drain the water?
Headlight condensation will usually go away on its own as the outside temperature warms up. You can make the moisture go away faster by switching on the headlights for a few minutes or moving the car under the sunshine.
In this article, I’ll explore ways to get rid of water condensation and what to do if water builds up in your headlights due to condensation. I’ll also discuss why your headlights may be holding water and when they need to be repaired.
Why Headlight Condensation Isn’t a Problem
Headlight condensation is more common in colder areas, and you’ll usually only notice it in the winter. While you may be concerned about water going through headlights, the amount of water that condenses in your car’s headlights is minimal and shouldn’t cause any damage.
Condensation is a natural process that happens on glass and plastic surfaces, and there’s not much you can do to prevent it. When you drive with the headlights on, the air inside the headlight casing will be slightly warmer. The air inside the headlight will cool down slower than the external temperature, causing water vapor to condense on the headlight casing.
However, this releases a tiny amount of water vapor that will easily evaporate as the car warms up. Some of the excess water will also flow out of the air vents in the headlight casing, and your headlights will dry on their own.
Also, many headlights are covered with an outer casing and an inner casing. The outer casing will have an air vent that’s responsible for condensation, but the inner casing will often be waterproof. So, even if water condenses inside the headlight’s casing, you don’t have to worry that the headlight may get damaged.
However, sometimes the water won’t evaporate from the headlights, causing a water buildup that could damage the light bulb and wiring or even cause the casing to corrode. If this happens, you’ll have to explore other ways of getting rid of moisture from your headlights.
How to Clear Headlight Condensation
If the temperature warms up and your headlights are still cloudy due to the moisture, or you need them to clear out faster, you can heat the car up to remove the moisture. This may involve running the engine with the headlights on for a few minutes or moving the car in the sun. Once the air inside the headlights warms up, the water will evaporate.
The easiest way to deal with headlight condensation if you’re in a hurry is to switch on the car’s headlights for a few minutes. Most headlights are made from halogen bulbs that warm up when they’re being used. This will heat the air inside the headlight case and remove the water vapor.
However, if your car has LED headlights, this method won’t work as LED lights don’t heat up in the same way. In such cases, you’ll either have to move your car to a warm area or wait for the moisture to go away on its own. The positive side of having LED lights is that they’re less likely to have moisture caused by condensation, and many are completely sealed, so water and air can’t pass through.
If the moisture is taking too long to go away even though your headlights are switched on, try moving the car to a sunny spot. The headlight condensation will go away completely in a few minutes, depending on the weather conditions.
Why Your Headlights Are Always Cloudy
If your headlights are always cloudy due to condensation, you’ll have to find the source of the problem. Blocked air vents in the headlight casing or cracks in the plastic are the most common culprits. The silicone glue sealing the headlights may also be damaged.
Common reasons why your headlights experience regular condensation include:
Cracks in the Headlight Casing
Cracks in the headlight casing may cause more cold air to enter the casing, resulting in more condensation. While small cracks aren’t a major problem, deeper cracks may cause air and even water to go through the casing.
Damaged or Worn Out Headlight Seals
The seals around your car’s headlight gasket are usually made of silicone that will prevent air or water from leaking into the gasket. However, this seal may get worn off over time, resulting in air leaks. While quality seals will last several years, sunlight and rain can cause them to get worn out and develop tiny cracks.
What to Do if Water Builds Up Inside the Headlights
While condensation isn’t a major problem, water building up inside the headlight casing can be a major issue. The headlights will have less shine, and the wiring may corrode, resulting in permanent damage.
Here’s what to do if you notice water inside the headlight gasket:
Replace the Headlight Gasket
If the headlight gasket has cracks that let water through, you’ll have to replace it. You don’t need to remove the headlight gasket if there’s a little water condensation, but if water builds up inside after a few years, you should consider changing the gasket.
Repair or Replace the Headlight Housing
If you can’t replace the gasket and the headlight housing is damaged beyond repair, you’ll have to replace the whole housing. This can be an issue in older cars where it’s difficult to find parts, but most repair shops will be able to get you a new headlight housing.
Replace the Headlight Seal
If there’s nothing wrong with the headlight housing but the seal is worn out, you can simply repair or replace it. Most headlight seals are made from silicone as it is airtight and waterproof. Always apply headlight seals that will last at least 10 years and are UV and water-resistant.
Here are some of the best headlight seals available on Amazon.com:
- Permatex 81730 Flowable Silicone Windshield and Glass Sealer: This silicone sealant is ideal for sealing the edges of windshields, headlights, and other glass surfaces. It’s waterproof and won’t get damaged in the sun.
- Meguiar’s G17804 Keep Clear Headlight Coating: This spray-on sealant will keep your headlights clear and protects the headlight casing from getting faded under the sun’s UV rays. Its effect will last at least a year, so you don’t have to worry about reapplying it regularly.
Have the Headlight Checked by a Professional
If you can’t find out what’s wrong with the headlights or there’s a water buildup inside the headlight gasket, you should have it checked by a professional. If you’re regularly struggling with headlight condensation and have to wait for the headlights to warm up before driving, you can have them checked by a mechanic.
Your mechanic will give you tips on how to deal with excessive headlight condensation and may even recommend installing a breather vent inside the headlight. This will prevent moisture from building up inside the headlight housing and solve the condensation problem.
While headlight condensation can sometimes block the intensity of your headlights, it’s usually nothing to worry about. Moisture inside the headlights will go away when they warm up, but it could also be a sign that the seal or gasket is damaged.
To prevent excessive condensation, consider installing a breather vent and make sure the gasket and seals are in good condition.