When you’re driving at night, through a storm, or any other time when your visibility is impaired, one of the greatest tools at your disposal is your vehicle’s headlights. Your headlights literally light the path before you, making sure that you can see both the both and any potential hazards in front of you. That’s why it’s important that you headlights are kept in good repair, ensuring they’ll always be ready when you need them.

In order to make sure your headlights are in good repair, the best thing you can do is make sure you provide proper maintenance. While you should have your headlights checked whenever you take your car in for an oil change or other maintenance, keep an eye on your headlights in between service appointments. With just a few easy steps, you can make sure that you headlights shine brightly and powerfully through any darkness.

When doing regular maintenance, you first want to check the clarity of your headlight lenses and the brightness of their beam. When headlights are first installed, the lenses are crystal clear. Over time, these lenses start to naturally cloud. This cloudiness diffuses the light emanating from the lens, reducing the power of the beam. A weak beam makes it hard both for you to see and for others to see you. If you headlights are cloudy, then you should either have them restored or replaced.

Even if your lenses aren’t cloudy, it’s possible they are still not as bright as they should be. This could be due to the power of the bulb inside your headlights. One of the easiest ways to check the brightness is to park your car about five feet from a vertical surface (such as your garage door or a building wall). Turn on your headlights and examine the light that shines on the wall. The light emanating from your headlights should be bright white. If the light looks dim, or if it looks yellow, then it’s time to replace the bulbs.

Here’s a tip to remember-make sure your bulbs are replaced in pairs. Replacing just one bulb can create an uneven light shining from your car, which can cause blind spots for both your and other drivers.

By regularly checking your headlights, you can make sure that they stay in good condition, providing your constant, powerful illumination and safety whenever you are on the road.