Exterior lights - headlamps, taillights, turn signals, etc. - are protected by a plastic lens, either clear or colored. Accidents do happen, and sometimes these lenses will become damaged, even tough the lamp itself works just fine. But don't be tempted to just leave this little crack or chip; it's not only illegal to drive with damaged lenses in most places, but the damage can allow moisture to get inside the bulbs and wiring, causing you a much bigger problem down the road.
If the damage is extensive, you'll have no choice but to buy a new lens from your car dealership. Depending on the make and model, the lens can be expensive and may take a few days or weeks to order. Refer to your Haynes Repair Manual for specific instructions to replace the lens.
If you notice a crack or chip in a lens, the key is to act quickly to prevent electrical moisture damage. If the damage is straightforward, and you've kept any broken pieces, you may be able to glue them back in position. Thoroughly clean all the parts and use a special plastic glue available from auto parts stores or home centers.
As a temporary fix, purchase special colored tape at an auto parts store. This will prevent water from getting inside the housing until the lens can be replaced with a new one.
If you frequently travel on dirt roads (or are just unlucky with getting hit by rocks and bugs), you can buy clear plastic headlight protectors at your local auto parts store.
Back to Tips from the Pros