Tuesday, January 25, 2022


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.

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.

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. 

##RVT815 ##RVDT1374


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1 year ago

Be careful that you do not “seal” the covers over the headlights. Most of the new headlights burn very hot and if the air can’t get to them they will heat up and burn out much quicker.

1 year ago

Back in the “olden” days of standard round and square sealed beam headlights you could buy protectors made of wire mesh that clipped on. I lived in Canada’s Northwest Territories 200 miles from the end of the pavement, and can attest to how well they worked. Anyway, one should also be able to fashion a set of protectors out of hardware cloth or similar. 1/2″ or a bit smaller openings should work fine. The mesh will not scratch, crack or discolour the way a plastic cover will (yes, those were around too back then).

JJ Johnson
4 years ago

It appears the photo you included was not linked properly. Articles like this are greatly improved with a few photos showing the steps/process you used to create the final product.

Jim G.
1 year ago
Reply to  JJ Johnson

It looks to me like the cover is in place and the picture makes installation quite self-explanatory.