Insects can be annoying. Particularly the ones that bite. It also bothers some people when their dead bodies spoil the look of the headlights. You can make some serious mistakes when you remove them.
Dead mosquitoes and flies pretty much don’t affect the headlight beam. You’d have to drive through a swarm of biblical proportions for that to happen. It irritates those drivers who think that the insects spoil the look of their vehicle. But often all the measures taken to restore the beautiful sheen only disimprove the matter. Because many of the cleaning methods used not only remove the insects but also some of the coating from the headlight lenses. The greatest enemies of these thin coatings are high-pressure washers and, of all things, fly sponges.
This may come as a surprise given their name. But many moons ago, fly sponges were made for glass, in other words the windshield. Headlights very rarely have glass lenses these days. They are usually made from polycarbonate with a thin protective coating.
And that coating likes to be treated very gently. The popular fly sponges and even harsher options will score the surface and also leave dull areas. And that will not only spoil the look of the headlights but will also affect the light.
Dead insects are best removed with a soft sponge or cloth. Ideally one made of microfibers. For cleaning agents you should use car shampoo or washing-up liquid and plenty of water. The bodies of insects contain chitin, one of the hardest substances in the biological world. So hard, by the way, that it cuts into wiper blades faster than ice.
Apart from suitable cleaning supplies you need patience. Allow the dead insects to soak, wait for the water and cleaning agents to take effect, and then wipe away – but only after a few minutes.
A “shower” helps
If your car has headlight washers you don’t need to worry about all this. The washer system will wash away the insects with a couple of well directed jets of water. But the system does need a cleaning agent. And that’s another area where mistakes can be costly.
Anti-freeze performs badly in the warmth of spring and the heat of summer. It’s so volatile that it evaporates too quickly to be really effective. You can see for yourself what that means on your windshield.
So it’s now time for a special summer additive. There are huge differences in quality so buying cheap products is definitely a false economy. Some low-cost additives have a reputation for eating away at the protective coating on headlight covers. There are very good reasons why products from respected brands can be found in the test laboratories of headlight manufacturers. They certainly cost a bit more than the average, but they are far cheaper than new headlights.