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Most of us think that there are two kind of headlights: the functional kind, and the the ones that are burnt out. However, the truth is that there are as many shades of headlight operation as there are hughs on a color wheel. If you're not careful, you may even get stuck in a defensive driving course, clearing up a traffic ticket. And even if you don't get a ticket, driving with dirty, dim, or foggy headlights can make things just a little more dangerous for both you and the other drivers on the road. Here are some things to remember about headlights.
Being situated on the front of the car, and normally only used at night or in bad weather, headlights have a tendency to be neglected by automobile drivers. And while you might notice the difference in the light pattern on the road in front of you if one of the lights is burnt out, youíll probably overlook dim or worn lights unless you make a specific point to check them. A great time to do this is when you take your car in for an oil change. If the light seems off color or faded, then it may be time to clean or replace it. You should also check to make sure that the lights are well focused. Do this by parking on a level surface about five feet from a wall and shining your lights onto it. The two pools of light should hit the wall at the same height.
Not every dim light needs to be replaced; sometimes a few years worth of grime, dirt, oil, and smashed insect carcasses are enough to block the light to the point of it being nearly useless. Washing your car regularly is one way to prevent this, and a few household items can reverse the dimming process and make a lamp look just like new. Just get some toothpaste, liquid glass cleaner, and a sock. Spray the window cleaner on the headlight, put the sock on your hand, place some toothpaste on the sock, and use it to buff the headlight for a couple of minutes. If it starts to dry out, just spray it a few more times with the glass cleaner, and keep going until the light looks like new.
Once a corvette headlight is actually burned out (and not simply dirty), thereís not much you can do except replace it. Obviously, any auto parts store or mechanic will be happy to do the work for youófor a price. However, if youíd rather just take care of the issue yourself, youíre in luck; headlights are generally easy to replace and donít require any specialized tools to get the job done. Your vehicleís instruction manual should offer detailed instructions on how to replace the bulb. Most headlights can be accessed and removed from under the carís hood, but some newer model cars have simple plastic covers over the bulbs that can be twisted off and donít require any tools. Just make sure that you buy the correct replacement bulb; your vehicle instruction manual should be able to help you there as well. Alternately, you could simply ask someone at your local auto parts store to help you find the right one.
Remember, having two clean, functioning headlights on your corvette isnít just required by law, itís also the right thing to do. Headlights arenít only there to help you see where youíre going; other drivers use headlight configuration to judge distance, speed, and location of oncoming cars. If youíre driving with lights that need to be cleaned or replaced, youíre putting yourself and everyone else on the road in danger. So do the right thing, and make sure that when it comes to your car, there will always be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Sladen West is a freelance writer dedicated to helping others stay safe through auto safety and a good defensive driving course.