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Are Car Headlights Glass or Plastic?


Whenever you take your car on harsh road trips, expect anything, including damage to your car. Headlights being on the front side are at a high prone of getting severe damage. So whenever you want to buy a spare headlight, try as much as possible to buy one that is hard to break. Are car headlights glass or plastic?

Fortunately, most car headlights come from plastic materials. The most used is polycarbonate plastic. It’s very strong and can survive harsh conditions on road trips. When you visit an auto motor spare parts shop, plastic headlights are not only an option. You’ll find there exist glass headlights too. So what may be your secret in choosing wisely among the two? Let us have a check on their history before venturing deep into their pros and cons.


Glass Headlights

Glass headlights were more common in the beginning evolution of cars. With the headlights’ Glass in concave mirrors designation, creating a wide convergence of light from the bulb. Today they have been replaced with plastic their counterparts.

Plastic Headlights

Since plastic headlights were first introduced in the 19th century, they have gained popularity. They have cheap prices compared to Glass, but most headlights from a hard polycarbonate plastic come in different designs and shapes. Generally, you’ll find out there is a welcoming outlook with uncountable advantages.

However good something is, there is a disadvantage carried.

Plastic Headlights’ Pros and Cons

Since most plastic headlights come from hard polycarbonate, they should be your choice for harsh conditions car drives.

 In addition, plastic headlights are cheap to buy. This makes it convenient to many people to afford. It would be best always to try not to be a big spender when less fortunate. This isn’t a piece of expensive advice, take it or not.

Unfortunately, plastic headlights don’t do well under the sun’s intense heat. After some usage, you’ll find a yellowing color on the surface of the plastic headlights. During the time of manufacture, they coat a protective layer, usually on the surface of the plastic. When this coating exhausts, a yellowing color usually appears. UV rays are responsible for this effect whenever the vehicle parks in the open for quite along.

Also, oxidation causes a foggy outlook on the lens of plastic headlights.

Glass Headlights’ Pros and Cons

It would be best never to underestimate the advantages of a glass headlight. As they have been affected in the market for so long by plastic headlights, their advantages still stand. Although Glass is expensive to manufacture, they are however cheap to replace. This’s because the seal-making beams are quite small.

Moreover, the lens in glass headlights is not affected by oxidation. There is no foggy outlook under glass headlights.

Additionally, unlike plastic headlights. Once you install the glass headlights, UV rays have no effect. This means that frequent replacement never occurs unless otherwise.

How Can I Prevent My Plastic Headlight From Turning Yellow?

Whether you are an old or newbie car owner, your car maintenance should be your priority. Your car will not always be new. After some time, the coating on the polycarbonate exhausts. This should never discourage you from liking your car, though.

car plastic headlight turning yellow

Many plastic coatings in the market come in different colors. Take note, do not choose a plastic coating that significantly reduces the amount of light coming from the headlight bulb.  

Another way you can reduce the yellowish is by restoring the parts damaged. You can remove the yellow layer and spray a protective coating.

It would be best if you never exhausted yourself. There are products from the market ranging from jelly to liquids and other products such as sandpapers which you can use to prevent degradation of the headlights and other parts.

Why Are Glass Headlights Coming to an Extinction?

Cost of Production

From your experience, if you’ve ever used a glass headlight, you may have your reasons. From my point of view, the main reason glass headlights are not common is because of the cost of production. Glass is a costly product to manufacture.

Difficult to Design

Additionally, the other possible reason is that it’s very hard to mold Glass into different shapes. This is because it is hard and challenging to cut. Just think of how our world today is full of designers, and you are in the run to obtain attractive products. This makes plastic headlight the only product that can quickly come in different shapes at a low cost under designations.

Easy to Break

You may want something hard and durable, but still, it can be challenging to maintain the durability. Think of Glass. It is hard compared to plastic but very easy to break instead. This’s because plastic is flexible compared to Glass.

What Causes Oxidation of Lenses in Plastic Headlights?

Let us relate to our clothes; they are prone to wear and tear. The same case is with headlights. Commonly with plastic headlights, the elements present in the plastic headlights become oxidized due to exposure to the sun’s UV rays, creating a foggy outlook with time. Thus, reducing the attractive look initially present.

 You may be thinking, ‘how is this possible?

The plastic headlight casing usually is coated with a thin lining of a UV ray protector, usually sealed inside the casing. As the car moves, the plastic casing gets exposed to different pressures, which may eventually crack. The crack creates a penetration room for the energy from the sun to oxidize the elements inside the casing. Eventually, the casing becomes foggy.

This problem is difficult to manage when major, restoration should be your option in such a case.

The Danger of Foggy Headlights

As a car owner, you always want the best for your car. Unfortunately, it is always not the case. Most cars with plastic headlights experience the foggy and yellowish effect. If this happens, what does it mean, and what should you do as a responsible driver. 


A foggy and yellowish headlight means little light comes out from the bulb. You should, however, take cation because it is dangerous traveling during the night. When you want to prevent accidents, ensure fixing the problem once detected.


In conclusion, as a car owner, learn to know the best choice of material made for the headlight. However, take frequent checkups on the quality of the headlights. When not in good condition, fix the issue soon enough.

Additionally, learn the basic steps in repairing car headlights. Knowledge in repair can help you fix problems soon enough once they occur.

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