Thursday, September 21, 2023


RV Mods: Protect your headlights!

By Greg Illes
As we prepared for our Alaska trip, we read many warnings about damage caused by flying rocks. Having traveled thousands of miles of dirt roads in the Desert Southwest, we are no strangers to road hazards. But this time, the hazards were to come from other vehicles tossing stones up off the roadway. How could we protect our RV’s headlights?

Greg Illes photo

One of the most vulnerable spots on our coach is the quad headlight installation, which consists of expensive, and difficult to replace, Hella halogen units. Chipping or breaking one of these puppies would be inconvenient, at best.

Fortunately, the solution was simple and inexpensive. These headlights are recessed, and mounted behind a rectangular bezel with four screws. All that was needed was to cut a clear plastic cover, remove the screws and re-secure everything with the cover in place.

Note that the best choice here is not just any acrylic plastic, but a sheet of Lexan (polycarbonate). Although Lexan is softer than acrylic, and will scratch easier, it is extremely tough and both crack- and shatter-resistant. In fact, you can actually cut a 1/16-inch-thick sheet of Lexan with tin snips — try that with acrylic and you’ll end up with plastic shards in your lap. You can buy a small sheet of this stuff from your local plastic supply, or even on Amazon.

If your headlight setup isn’t as convenient as mine, you may still be able to use other techniques to mount your “invisible protective shield.” Use some stiff paper to make a template and when everything fits right, cut the plastic and drill your mounting holes using one of the special pointy plastic drills.

For areas with compound curves, new challenges arise. It’s possible, with patience, to heat the plastic and get a mild compound curve in it. This exercise is not for the faint-of-heart, and requires patience, practice and some spare material. For aggressive curves, you may need to use a two-piece or partial-coverage approach.

Note that you do NOT want to have the shield come in direct contact with your headlights, especially if they are plastic. This would cause chafing and marring and would have a very negative effect on your lighting. Always keep air between the shields and your lights. You’ll also want to use nylon washers under the screw heads to keep from stress-cracking the plastic. Also, be careful that you do not “seal” the covers over the headlights. Headlights can burn very hot and if the air can’t get to them they will heat up and burn out much quicker.

Once you have it fabricated and fitted, strip off the protective films, attach your new shields, and drive those rough byways with greater peace of mind.

Greg Illes is a retired systems engineer who loves thinking up RV upgrades and modifications. When he’s not working on his motorhome, he’s traveling in it. 



  1. We went to Alaska by way of the Alaskan Highway and returned by way of the Alaskan to the Cassiar with side trips to Haines and Stewart, BC in June-August 2019. We encountered a single stretch of about 15 miles on the Alaskan Highway ending a mile or so of Continental Divide during the outward-bound part of our trip. Otherwise all roads we traveled in our RV were paved. We expressly avoided Top of the World Highway. However, pavement does not preclude rock damage. We spoke with an acquaintance who basically traveled the same route as we did and a rock destroyed the passenger-side rear window of his towed vehicle. We removed the duster/mud flap/rock guard of our MH, added the Roadmaster Tow Defender to our Blue Ox setup, and bought a large floor mat (~ 24″ x 84″, very similar to a yoga mat) that we put over the lower part of our towed vehicle’s windshield (anchoring it by closing the front doors on each end). We got a few rock chips in the MH windshield, as well as the towed vehicle, but largely escaped unscathed.

    • The “single stretch” was unpaved and the only one we encountered that was not being repaved at the same time as the pavement was removed.

  2. The highway from Mile 0 of the Alaska Hwy at Dawson Creek, BC all the way to Anchorage and Fairbanks has been paved since 1992, the 50th anniversary of the Alaska Hwy. No need for such extreme precautions.

    • Hi, Impavid. When I drove up the Cassiar Hwy. heading to Skagway in 1989(?), I think there were about 200 miles of “gravel”. It was about 2″ diameter and made for a very bumpy drive in my ’75 Suburban. Probably vibrated off a couple of pounds.😏 There were other dirt roads along the way, as well as construction areas. Quite a memorable drive. Have a good night. 😀 –Diane

  3. Years ago when we drove it, I used a cover made from hardwear cloth (otherwise known as 1/8″ wire mesh. Formed it to cover the headlights. No breaks, chips etc. Of course back then headlights were glass! 1975 to be exact! 900 miles of gravel. Best road trip ever!

  4. I simply covered my headlights with 3M Paint Protection Film. It doesn’t help if a boulder hits the lights but does stop small rocks etc.


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