One of the most sort after topics in most automotive forums is how to smoke headlights. Now, there are many reasons why you might wish to smoke your headlights. One of the most common reasons is to upgrade your car’s looks and aesthetics. In fact, some people go as far as matching the color of the headlight smoke film with that on the windows to give their wheelers a distinctive and aggressive look.
But, other than the aesthetics, smoking your headlights makes them appear darker when driving. This helps to reduce glare and reflections that are quite common in clear or light-colored lenses. In fact, several countries have gone ahead to “promote” the use of smoked headlights by prohibiting motorists from using high beams when driving at night.
Remember, using high beams can be risky and unsafe, as they tend to blind oncoming motorists and pedestrians. With that said, this insightful guide will proceed to discuss two very exciting ways you can smoke your headlights.
What Does the Law State Regarding Smoked Headlights?
Now that you’ve decided to smoke your car’s headlights, there is one key question you need to ask yourself—Are smoked headlights legal? You see, different states have different laws regarding smoked headlights.
Although it’s not explicitly discussed, some states perceive it as one of the modifications that are listed as part of the violations of existing motor laws. For instance, some states mention that for your headlights to be deemed road-legal, they must project a white beam. Other states mention that the light projected must reach a certain distance as stated by their motor laws.
Other states are reluctant on issues regarding smoked headlights but go as far as restricting specific colors. So, with this information, it’s recommended that you first consult your local authorities to understand what’s legal and what’s illegal.
Benefits of Smoking Headlights
Like any other modification, smoking headlights come with their fine share of pros and cons. Unless you’re a car enthusiast with extensive knowledge about these types of mods, a beginner with less knowledge should consider the benefits and drawbacks of smoking headlights before closing the deal. So, in this section, we’re going to walk you through some major pros and cons of smoking headlights.
The number one reason for smoking headlights is to give your car a sporty, aggressive, and distinctive look. Since they’re available in a full range of film colors, choosing a color setup of your choice is easy. Here, you can pick a film color that matches the color of your car or one that will reveal your creativity and originality.
Although most people don’t know this, smoking headlights allows them to stay longer and in good condition. As you all know, car lights tend to yellow and wear down over time when exposed to dirt and extreme sunlight. Thankfully, with smoked headlights, the protective film prevents direct UV rays, dust, and road debris from damaging and dulling the headlights.
Some drivers argue that smoking headlights with yellow colors improve your visibility when driving in bad weather conditions. This is good for your security and the security of other road users.
Lastly, smoking headlights helps in reducing glare. You see, stock headlights are uncomfortably bright when driving at night. While you may enjoy the clear view of the road ahead, this can be a curse to oncoming motorists. So, to avoid blinding other road users, you can consider smoking the headlights.
Disadvantages of Smoking Headlights
The first obvious downside of smoked headlights is that they’re illegal in most jurisdictions. According to most state and city regulations, smoked or tinted headlights don’t meet street legal standards making them illegal. So, before smoking your headlights, you should confirm with the authorities about your local restrictive laws.
Sometimes, smoked headlights can give you an outcome that’s the opposite of what you expected. This happens when you notice your smoked headlights are dimmer than the original stock headlights. So, to avoid such inconveniences, it’s wise that you consider factors such as the tint level and brightness of your headlight bulbs before making the final decision.
Tint Film vs. Spray Paint: Which Is the Best?
Now that we’ve discussed what the law states regarding smoked headlights, most people will begin to wonder whether to proceed with the project or if to find an alternative option. Here, you’ll be tempted to weigh down whether to pick a tint film or stick to spray paint.
Now, tint films and spray paints are two different methods you can use to achieve the same goal of smoking headlights. As for tint films, these are thin tinted films that are attached to the outside of your headlights using adhesive. These films are temporary and can be replaced in case they get scratched.
Spays paint, on the other hand, is a permanent solution that can be used to achieve smoked headlights. Here, you need to hire a professional to do the modification for you as the process is quite complex. If this is the method you’ve decided to use, you need to note that removing the tint will be very risky as you’ll have to use harsh chemicals that can injure your car’s paint job.
Applying a Tint Film
Things You’ll Need:
- Tint film sheet
- Heat gun/blow dryer
- Water in a spray bottle
- Razor blade
- Step One: Dismount the Headlight Assembly
So, if this is the method you’ve decided to choose, then the first step is to dismount the headlight assembly by reading the car’s manual.
- Step Two: Clean the Headlight
When smoking your headlights, it’s always good to start with a pair of clean headlights. So, after dismounting the headlights, the next step is to clean them. Here, you can use an automotive cleaner to clean the headlights then wipe them gently using a dry microfiber towel.
- Step Three: Inspect Your New Tint Film
Now, while the headlights are drying, place your tint film on the bench and read the instructions carefully. Here, you’ll notice that tint films come in two types that include pre-cut films and full sheet films.
So, if you ordered pre-cut films, then the tints will match the exact model of your headlights. If they’re full sheets, then you’ll have to use a razor blade to trim them to match the molding on your headlights.
- Step Four: Put on the Tint Films
It’s now time to put the tint film on your headlights. Here, you’ll need to put on a pair of gloves to avoid touching the clean headlights with sweaty or greasy hands. Spray a mist of water on the headlights then gently place the tint film on the headlight.
Place the tint film on one side of the headlight then gently work your way towards the other end. Make sure the film is positioned perfectly depending on the shape of the headlight. The purpose of water in this step is to lubricate the tint film to make it easier to adjust.
- Step Five: Use a Squeegee to Squeeze Our Air/Water Bubbles
Are you happy with the results? In case you are, then you can pick a squeegee and start squeezing out trapped air and water bubbles between the headlight lens and the tint film. When you’re done, use a heat gun or a blower to iron the tint film to make it align perfectly on tight corners. Lastly, trim any extra films to make the headlight look neat.
- Step Six: Restore the Headlight Assembly
Now that you’re satisfied with the results, restore the headlight assembly back to the vehicle and test it to see whether it meets your demands.
Applying a Spray Paint
Things You’ll Need:
- Liquid soap
- 2000-grit sandpaper (wet & dry)
- Rubbing alcohol
- Step One: Dismount the Headlight Assembly
Just like in our previous method, always start by dismounting the headlight assembly according to the information provided by the manual.
- Step Two: Clean the Headlight
Clean the headlight using the recommended liquid soap. This will help to remove any surface dirt and dust from the lens. Rinse the headlight gently using clean water then use a microfiber towel to dry the lens.
- Step Three: Wear Protective Gear
Now that you’ve cleaned the headlight, the next step is to read the information on the aerosol spray paint to ensure it’s specifically made for headlights. Once you verify this information, proceed to wear a protective mask and goggles to avoid inhaling the spray paint directly. The goggles will protect your eyes from any accidental contact with the paint.
- Step Four: Place the Headlight on a Bench
With everything ready, place the headlight on a bench, and don’t forget to mask those parts you don’t wish to spray.
- Step Five: Start With a Thin Coat
So, let’s start spraying. As always, start with a thin coat while holding the aerosol can at least one foot away. When spraying, don’t focus on one spot for too long but rather move the can side to side to enhance uniformity.
Depending on the results, you might need to apply several coats to meet your demands. In this case, you have to wait for at least 15 minutes before spraying the next coat.
- Step Six: Apply a Clear Coat
Once you’re done spraying your aerosol spray paint, conclude the project by spraying an extra layer of clear coat. A clear coat serves as an additional layer of protection to prevent UV damage and premature chipping of the spray paint. It also makes the headlights look aesthetically appealing, which is exactly what you’re looking for.
- Step Seven: Leave the Paint to Dry
After applying the final layer of clear coat, allow the headlights to dry for at least 12 hours. In case you have ample time, you can let the headlights dry overnight before removing the masking tape and reinstalling them back in the car.
FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Do Smoked Headlights Affect Visibility?
Yes, they do. Smoked headlights reduce visibility at a noticeable level. However, the level of visibility will depend on the level of tint you’ve applied to your headlights. If the tint is light, then the impact will be minimal. But, if the tint is darker, then visibility will be heavily affected.
Remember, without good visibility, it will be hard for you to see the road ahead of you. Also, adding a darker tint on the tail lights might make you less visible to motorists trailing behind you leading to higher chances of an accident.
Q2. Are Black Smoked Lights Illegal?
Well, in most states, blacked-out headlights are illegal. With these types of smoked headlights, visibility is hugely reduced making it hard to see the road ahead. Since your headlights are the eyes that guide you when driving in low-light conditions, having blacked-out headlights means that you won’t see road signs and other alerts clearly when driving.
Q3. Are There Any Benefits of Smoking Headlights?
Yes, of course. Earlier on we discussed some major benefits of having this aftermarket mod. Some of the benefits you’re likely to enjoy include reduced glare when driving and advanced headlight protection against UV rays, scratches, and road debris.
As you can see, smoking headlights is not a complex job. Provided you have ample time and, of course, the right tools, you can easily smoke your headlights to give them a new look. In this guide, we’ve discussed two methods you can consider which are using tint films and spraying aerosol paint. Regardless of the method you pick, it’s always recommended that you revise your state motor laws to ensure that you remain on the right side of the law.