Obviously 3M has an agenda when it pushes its 3M Lens Renewal kit, but behind that commercial pitch is some good advice from NASCAR veteran Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 3M Ford Fusion. He encourages all car owners to conduct a vehicle visibility safety check before hitting the roads in darkness and winter weather.
The best advice Biffle gives concerns checking headlight brightness. You travel about 100 feet a second at 60 mph. With dirty lenses, it becomes very easy to overdrive your headlights (remember that from driver’s education?) In effect, you drive too fast to see things in your path, which can have disastrous results.
It’s possible to disagree with him on some of the advice. Headlight restoration can be tricky when it involves power tools. Products sold by Turtle Wax can be just as effective and require no special tools.
He offers his Vehicle Visibility Safety Checklist
- Check your wipers -- Change at least once a year or more if they are streaking
- Check your headlight brightness – Headlight bulbs dim over time. Park on a level surface facing five feet from a wall and check the light display. The circles of light should be bright or soft white, not yellow or dim, and the circles should be even and aligned straight forward on the wall.
- Change the bulbs - A high-quality bulb will burn brighter and last longer. Be sure to replace both bulbs at the same time, even if it doesn’t seem that they both need it.
- Check your headlight lens - If you see a cloudy, milky surface and can't see the bulb through the plastic, you have damage that can limit your visibility on the highway.
- Restore your headlights – An at-home kit like the 3M Headlight Lens Restoration System allows you to easily remove the hazy layer of damage and polish your lenses back to like-new condition.
- Check your mirrors -- Ensure they are in good working condition without cracks. Damaged mirrors can be cost-effectively replaced by visiting a local salvage yard.
- Check your tail lights, brake lights, backup lights and tag illumination lights – Back your vehicle against the wall again and activate your rear lights while watching in your rear view mirror. You can replace these easily – and even save yourself a traffic ticket.