Headlight Eyelids

From show cars to daily drivers, customized headlights are becoming a standard feature on many vehicles. Some are installed from the factory, creating an aggressive and sporty look for cars that would otherwise blend in seamlessly. Others are installed as an aftermarket accessory, allowing a vehicle owners to customize and improve their car's appearance to suit their own aesthetic tastes.

Whatever the reason, the application, and the eyelid itself, it's becoming clear that headlight eyelids aren't just a passing fad for motorists. It's rare to see a modified Mitsubishi Eclipse or other low-cost sport vehicle without some modifications to its headlights. This popularity has prompted the largest headlight accessory manufacturers to expand their range, lower their prices, and offer more variety.

If you're a vehicle owners that's looking to customize their car's look, that's a great thing. There are now more headlight eyelids available than ever before, with customized styles available for family vehicles and sports cars alike. Before you rush to the automotive store to pick up your set, however, it's important that you use this five-party question and answer guide to ensure you pick the right set.

Which cars have headlight eyelids as a standard feature?
Headlight eyelids have been used as a styling tool for decades, allowing vehicle designers to add an aggressive or sporty style to special versions of fairly standard vehicles. A classic example is that of the BMW 3 Series coupe. Earlier versions of the compact car used full-size headlights in low-power models, while the sporty 335i and range-topping M3 sported a set of squinting, smaller headlights.

Other examples include Subaru's Impreza line, which discarded headlight styling on lower-end cars all the while offering 'squinty' headlights on the range-topping STI rally car. This styling choice has been fairly consistent across different car manufacturers, and in fact different car building countries.

For example, eyelids are typically used on vehicles that require enhanced aerodynamics or sporty styling. They're rarely used on luxury vehicles and high-end cruising cars, as their presence adds a 'power' touch that's unlikely to be appreciated by owners. If you're searching for vehicles that have partial 'eyelid' headlights, it's best to look at the sports range of large automotive manufacturers.

Should I use headlight eyelid decals or engineered fittings?
This is a classic dilemma for car customizers. Picking a material and style is difficult, particularly when it's for a fitting as widely made as headlight eyelids. There are carbon, stick-on, and metallic headlight eyelids to choose from, alongside a huge range of other options. In general, the greatest choice is the one that suits your car, and that is a decision that's generally steeped in subjectivity.

For example, many motorists prefer an understated and subtle look to their vehicle. It's the classic styling choice that's sold thousands of BMW M5s – despite offering immense performance, the car looks fairly plain. These motorists should look for headlight eyelids that match their car in material and color, and are best off avoiding flashy materials such as carbon fiber and stick-on vinyl.

On the other hand, those that prefer a flashy, race inspired look may be better off picking an eyelid material that emphasizes their vehicle's sporting pedigree. Polyurethane stickers are the ideal style for vehicles that are sporty and highly customized, as they can be replaced with little more than an adhesive solution and force. Carbon fiber is also a worthwhile choice, due to its limited weight.

Headlight eyelids and visibility: what's safe and what isn't?
Headlight eyelids do have some drawbacks, the most obvious being their propensity to reduce the amount of road that's visible during dark periods. Several manufacturers warn against using eyelid covers during nighttime, while others advise customers to only use their products on show cars. It's your choice, but it could be important for your safety that you consider using a small eyelid fitting.

Alternatively, you could install a set of polyurethane headlight eyelids, which can easily be removed with rubbing alcohol and water. This allows you to customize your vehicle when required, and use a road going 'full' headlight when the law (and safety) requires you to do so. While these eyelids slide off a vehicle effortlessly, they are fairly expensive to purchase and time consuming to replace.

Should I use carbon fiber eyelids or an alternative material?
Again, this is a choice that's entirely down to the vehicle's owner. The most popular eyelids tend to be made of polyurethane plastic – a thin material that can easily be removed from a headlight with an anti-adhesive or alcohol. While these offer a great deal in terms of convenience, they're far from the best choice for vehicle owners that want to customize their car for the long term.

Alternatively, metallic headlight covers may be too bulky or costly to install on your vehicle. While these offer the best combination of style and consistency (most metal headlight covers can be color-matched with their respective vehicle), they are difficult to remove or customize further. Put simply, show cars should use polyurethane eyelids, while standard cars should use metal or carbon fiber.

The legality of modifying your vehicle's lighting radius:
For show cars and off-road vehicles, applying headlight eyelids is a nonissue. For road going cars and daily driver vehicles, however, the legalities of applying even a small eyelid to your headlight may not work in your favor. Cars have been impounded and drivers fined, particularly in European countries, for applying even small modifications to their vehicle's headlight and brake light system.

Check the legality of applying headlight tints in your area before attaching them to your vehicle's front or rear lights. Many states expressly outlaw headlight modifications that limit the range and size of a vehicle's front light stream. As the costs of applying headlight eyelids to your vehicle can sometimes be quite immense, it's always worth checking that they are legal before proceeding.

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