Kelly's Garage - Active Green and Ross - August 2011


Kelly's Corner:

Since this month’s topic is headlights and headlight restoration, I thought I would share with you an experience I had when I was much much younger. When I was in University I used to drive a Pontiac Fiero GT and it had “pop-up” headlights. One evening I decided to go out and it was dark enough that I needed to put my headlights on. So, I turned them on and I still couldn’t see anything. My next idea was to try my high beams and low and behold they worked! For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why I had no low beams until the next day my dad informed me that both headlights had burned out!:-) Talk about embarrassing. Now I am much more informed about whether my headlights are working:)

Do you have a funny story like this you want to share? If so, please email me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it I would like to start a page on my website of funny/embarrassing experiences.



Headlights are really called “head lamps”. The word headlight actually refers to the beam of light coming from the headlamp. They were first introduced in 1898 on the Columbia Electric Car and they were optional!

This month's topic: Headlights and headlight restoration

The two things I wanted to talk about in this month’s newsletter were your headlights and also headlight restoration. When was the last time you inspected your vehicle to make sure your headlights were both working? Many of us don’t even think about it, but I have good news for you. When you take your vehicle in for an oil change at Active Green and Ross they do a 30 point inspection which includes checking your lighting system.

Your headlights are a pretty important safety aspect of your vehicle and they have evolved over time. In the US, nearly ½ of all traffic fatalities occur in the dark despite only having 25% of traffic travelling. I’m sure this statistic isn’t much different for Canada. The first headlights were introduced in 1898 and they were electric. In 1962, halogen lights became the norm and in the 1990’s, HID (high intensity discharge) lights became popular. With each new innovation vehicle headlights have become better and better. They illuminate the road better and they last longer. However, headlights do dim over time. Every time you turn your lights on a tiny pit of filament burns out. Many places recommend that when you are having one headlight changed you should change the other since it is probably on it’s way out as well. Here’s a trick I use to see if both of my lights are working. When I have my lights on and I pull up behind a vehicle at a stoplight, I check to see if I can see two lights in their rear bumper.

Headlights used to have a glass lense but now many lights have plastic lenses. The pros of having plastic are: reduced vehicle weight and less chance of breaking if there is an impact. The downside is that these lenses get oxidized by sunlight and sandblasted by dirt coming off of the road. You may have noticed that your lenses don’t look as clear as when the vehicle was new. (The average length of time we are keeping our vehicle today is 8 years+.) When they are oxidized or dull it reduces your ability to see while you are driving at night since the light is diffused. There is a remedy for dull headlights and that’s called “Headlight Restoration”. This can be much less expensive then replacing your entire headlight which can range from $100’s to $1000’s of dollars. If you chose to go the restoration route, you can either do it yourself or you can take your vehicle into your local Active Green and Ross where they have the system and can do it for you. Restoring your headlights is a multi step process and can usually be done in under an hour. It involves using a variable speed polisher or a low speed battery powered drill with a very fine grit sandpaper and using a polisher as well. If you haven’t done this before I might not recommend doing it yourself. When I was getting ready to sell my Dodge Neon I had my headlights “restored” and what a difference it made to the overall appearance. This may be something to think about should you be getting ready to sell your car and want to increase the perceived value.

Take care of your car and it will take care of you!

This months photo:

Restored headlight and non-restored headlight.


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