Cars

Can hazy headlight covers be repaired?

John Paul, AAA Northeast's Car Doctor, answers a question from a reader who has noticed a haze forming on his car’s headlight covers.

Car headlights
Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Q. What is the best way to get rid of the haze that takes place over time on my headlight covers? To me the haze is affecting how the lights are working. 

A. The plastic headlight lenses turn cloudy due to ultraviolet light. You can bring the car to a repair shop where they can buff out the lenses to get them back to a clear look. You can also try to do it yourself. You can buy a kit that has a special buffing compound, very fine sandpaper, and in some cases a buffing wheel that you attach to a drill. To get good results it will take a little time and effort. Once the lenses are clear, then it is important to apply a UV protective coating to help prevent the haze from reappearing. You are correct that in some cases badly clouded headlights can limit up to 90 percent of the light output of the headlight bulb. If the headlights are too badly damaged, then you may need to replace the entire assemblies.

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Q. I have a Ford Escape. When I disconnected the battery to clean the connections, the radio became “locked.” I purchased the car used and have no idea about a lock code. Can you help?

A. I have seen some online resources but have never used them. Typically, you will need to remove the radio and get the serial number. Once you have the number, you can call a Ford dealer to get the unlock code. This is also a good reminder of using “keep-alive” memory when cleaning battery terminals or replacing a battery. Typically at AAA we attach a portable jump-pack to the battery cables to maintain power to the car’s electrical system when testing or changing a battery — to preserve the car’s memory. 

Q. I recently had my 2018 Ford Escape back to the dealer and asked about a whirring noise coming from the rear driver’s side door when the door is opened. This does not occur every time, so it is hard to pinpoint. Naturally, it never happens at the dealer’s shop. I was however told that it is a common problem on some Escapes and F150 pickups. They told me it was the fuel pump priming the engine for easier starts. Have you heard of this problem at all? My question to the dealer is what is the fuel pump doing in the door because that is where the noise is coming from. I have also felt the vibration with my hand on the outside of the door once while this was happening.

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A. Your Ford Escape uses two fuel pumps, a fuel pump mounted in the gas tank and a high-pressure pump that mounts on the engine. When you open the driver’s door, the fuel pump is energized to prime the fuel system for quicker starts. The vibration is traveling through the car. My only concern would be if the noise or vibration becomes more apparent or louder. If that happens, I would have the dealer take a second look at the issue. 

Q. My husband has a new VW Jetta. The oil needs to be compatible with VW 508 00. He wants to change the oil himself and we have no idea what to get.

A. Volkswagen uses a specific oil, but there are equivalent-non-Volkswagen oils. The oil is a 0W-20-weight fully synthetic oil, according to Volkswagen. Castrol Edge and Valvoline European Full Synthetic are two popular oil brands that would be suitable. 

Q. I have a Toyota Camry and I was just wondering if I got stuck in the snow, is it better when trying to get unstuck to have the additional weight of a full tank of gas?

A. It depends on the car and where the gas tank is located. On a front-wheel drive like your Camry, that extra 50 pounds of fuel might take a little weight off the drive wheels and reduce traction. With an all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive vehicle, the extra weight could be an advantage and add traction. For me I would rather have a full or close to full tank of gas to avoid running out of fuel in bad weather and becoming stranded. 

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John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Car Doctor. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive business and is an ASE-certified master technician. E-mail your car question to [email protected] Listen to Car Doctor on the radio at 10 a.m. every Saturday on 104.9 FM or online at northshore1049.com.

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