The best tricks to combat headlamp condensation

Headlamps can even fog up on brand new cars. In most cases, however, the moisture evaporates by itself. However, sometimes the headlamps simply don’t dry and the headlights inside remain fogged up. In our guide, we explain how you can tell whether your headlamp just needs cleaning or actually needs replacing and what you can do yourself to prevent condensation in the headlamp.

Why do headlamps fog up?

Most modern headlamps are equipped with a ventilation system that ensures the pressure is equalised. This also allows moisture that has penetrated the headlamp to escape again. Conversely, this also means that the headlamps can fog up much more easily from the inside.

If the headlights are misted up, in most cases this is because the car has been exposed to more moisture than usual. For example, the headlamps can fog-up from the inside after you’ve driven through the car wash or when the engine compartment cools down in a cold environment. However, defective seals or a blocked ventilation system can also cause excess headlamp condensation.

Moisture in the headlamp can become a safety risk

As previously mentioned, headlights are not designed to have airtight seals, and it is normal to have some moisture in the headlamp. Often, you won’t even notice it because the headlamps dry out quickly after just a few minutes with the lights on or in the sun.

However, if the fogged up headlight just won't dry, then you should do something about it as soon as possible. Not fixing fogged up headlights can be dangerous for you and other road users, as your visibility can be severely impaired. Nevertheless, you don't necessarily have to go to the workshop. In the next section, we reveal how to clean fogged up headlight covers.

Incidentally: LED and xenon headlamps can also fog up from the inside. This is for exactly the same reasons as for other types of headlamps. Here too, it isn’t absolutely necessary to remove the headlamps or visit a workshop. This only becomes absolutely necessary if water has fully penetrated the headlamp.

How to clean fogged up headlight lenses

Regardless of whether it’s a xenon, halogen or LED headlamp that has fogged up, you can easily clean and dry the headlight cover yourself. The first thing you should do is switch on the light and, if possible, put the car in a warm place or in the sun. If the headlamps don’t become clear again after a few minutes, then either too much moisture has penetrated or it can’t evaporate properly.

In this scenario, you should check all the seals on the headlamp. It’s also important that the slots of the ventilation system aren’t blocked, and that air can flow through to dry the excess moisture. The reflectors shouldn’t be removed during this process because there’s a risk that they’ll become damaged.

This part is very important: if you remove parts yourself when cleaning fogged up headlights, then you should also adjust the headlamps properly afterwards. This is because removing the headlamps can cause them to become misaligned. Safe driving is usually not possible without readjustment.