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Is there any hope of fixing my cloudy car headlights?

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Cars

AAA Northeast Automotive Physician John Paul answers a question from a reader who has been unable to clear haze from his car’s headlights.

Russ Rader/Insurance Institute for Highway Safety via AP

Q The headlights are so cloudy on my car that I have to use high beam to see at night. I went to the dealership and was told it would cost $750 to replace the headlights. Tried toothpaste and bug spray with little change but not much. What can I do?

A. If the headlights are not too far apart, you can try having the headlights cleaned by a professional. A shop will use a high-speed buffer, mask off the painted area, and using various compounds remove a small layer of plastic until the lenses are clear. This can usually be completed for around $100. If that’s not an option, replacing the headlight assemblies with a quality replacement part can be a cost-effective repair.

Q I own a 2014 Ford Shelby Mustang convertible with extremely low mileage. It exhibits some bounce steer symptoms. On roads with ruts it will move the steering in that direction, and on some bumps there is a slight movement in the steering wheel. I recently had the alignment checked and everything was correct on the numbers. Do you have any suggestions or ideas?

A. Bounce steer – sometimes called bump steer – occurs when the suspension is compressed and the angle of the steering geometry changes. Your Shelby Mustang may be lowered slightly from the stock model, but still uses stock suspension parts. As the suspension is lowered the angle of one of the alignment settings (toe-in) will change and when you hit a bump this angle will change and the steering will turn. There are kits you can install to keep the tie rod ends parallel and help eliminate this undesirable condition.

Q My 2020 Honda HR-V’s dashboard display freezes every time I get an incoming Bluetooth phone call. It doesn’t happen every time, but when it does, everything on the center console besides the clock freezes (screen, dials, buttons). The only way to fix it is to pull over, turn the car off, and turn it back on. I brought it to the attention of my dealer, and they have no idea how it even happens. They checked for software updates but nothing is done to fix this issue.

A. Honda has issued a Technical Service Bulletin – 20-094 – which addresses a very similar issue. The repair is a software update. Also, if you’re using a USB cable, some generic phone cables can cause problems. Also, make sure your phone software is up to date. Readers have told me that if their toll transponder is close to the phone, it can cause some weird issues.

Q A few years ago a solution of vinegar and water was used to clean my car interior as well as the leather upholstery. Soon after, the driver’s seat and left armrest began to deteriorate and chip. This car is not parked. Could the vinegar and water have dried out the leather and been the cause, as well as the intense changes in heat and cold? I just started using leather conditioner. Will this help?

A. Pure vinegar can certainly dry out leather upholstery, but diluted with water it shouldn’t have caused a problem. Most of the interior materials are quite resistant to vinegar, soap and alcohol cleaners. I suspect the problem is simply due to age, sun exposure, and other environmental issues. Depending on the damage, a good quality leather conditioner can help restore the overall appearance.

Q I store my Porsche Cayman in my unheated garage under the house. I will use a battery maintainer. Is there a brand you like? Should I lock the car?

A. In some vehicles I’ve found that unless I lock the car, the electronics never fully go to sleep. Although the battery maintainer should be able to keep the battery fully charged, it makes sense to lock the doors. In addition, clean the car, fill the fuel tank, add fuel stabilizer, change the oil, check and refill the fluids, and inflate the tires to the maximum inflation pressure on the sidewall of the tires. Finally, a good car cover will prevent any possible damage from moving objects around the garage. As for battery maintainers (floating chargers), I use the Battery Tender, but CTEK seems to be the preferred brand for Porsche owners.

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Automotive Physician. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive industry and is an ASE Certified Master Technician. Email your question to [email protected] Listen to the Car Doctor podcast at johnfpaul.podbean.com.



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