Story time: A few weeks ago, we had a customer come into our shop with some inconsistencies on their headlights. At first glance,
there was minor discoloration around the edges of the lights coming from the breakdown in the old headlight coating… which didn’t look that bad to us. But upon closer inspection (especially with the lights turned ON), we could see something called crazing. Refer to the photo for a good visual.
Since crazing isn’t seen nearly as often as the cloudy or discolored look we most often see on old headlights, we were able to set expectations for the customer and informed him that restoration would most likely not take care of the issue, but he wanted them done anyway regardless if it helped or not. The lights ended up looking brand new with the lights off, but you could still see the crazing when the lights were on.
What now? We wanted to bring this issue to your attention in case you’ve ever experienced this before or in case you ever have someone approach you with the same issue. Many times, people get cloudy headlights confused with crazing or vice versa, or pair them together when [in our experience] they are different issues.
Crazing produces a network of fine cracks on the surface of a material, but is different from a crack in that it cannot be felt on the surface and it can continue to support a load, often found on pottery. Crazing cannot be removed as the inconsistency is actually within the polycarbonate of the headlight and has nothing to do with the oxidation of the protective coating placed on the lens by the manufacturer.
Set expectations. If you do get a customer with this happening on their lights, we suggest you set the customers’ expectations by letting them know that restoration most likely will not solve the issue, but that restoration can still take care of the deteriorating protective coating. The light will overall look much better, but most likely the crazing will still be visible, especially with the lights on.
If you have and further questions, please do not hesitate to ask our experts.