Are you experiencing dim lights when driving with your Audi A3 and want to know how to use the headlight washer? You’ve come to the right place, for we have researched this question, and we have the answer for you.
The headlight washers turn on whenever you use the windshield washers. Pull the wiper stalk towards the steering wheel to activate the headlight washers.
Let’s talk more about the Audi A3 headlight washers in the succeeding sections. Read on to learn more!
The Truth Behind Headlight Washers
A headlight washer is a feature that you’d find in many Audi models. Some older A3 models also have the headlight washer in the more expensive trims. However, newer A3 models no longer have them.
Most car manufacturers originally installed headlight washers with headlight wipers. Headlight wipers are so common in older car models that some people still refer to headlight washers as headlight wipers even though there is no wiper.
A headlight wiper works the same way as a windshield wiper. It wipes dirt off the headlights to keep the beams of light clear after the headlight washer sprays the headlights with a cleaning liquid.
However, with the changes in modern cars, manufacturers have no choice but to remove the headlight wipers. To compensate for the loss of the headlight wiper, headlight washers now use extremely high liquid pressures to push cleaning liquids to the surface of the headlights.
Unfortunately, in some cases, this is still not enough.
The Purpose Of Headlight Washers
The United Nations Regulation 48 made it a requirement to install headlight cleaners on cars that use low-beam headlights. This is important if the headlight has a brightness of 2,000 lumens or more.
Lumen is the measurement of how much visible light a bulb can produce.
Dust or dirt on bright headlights can create glare that is dangerous for vehicles in the opposite lane. Even though the dust or dirt on the headlight is not enough to dim the light output, it can be enough to distort the path of light and cause glare.
Once dirt on the headlights accumulates, it will start to dim the light output. This is especially common on wet roads.
Dust, mud, and dirt can mix with water droplets that fly off from the tires of vehicles. These dirty/muddy droplets can fly off to nearby cars and accumulate in the front area of the car.
Offroad driving during dry months can also lead to dirty headlights. Ground dirt becomes loose when it dries during warm months. The wind from a moving vehicle can easily blow off these loose dust particles.
Accumulated dirt and dust can easily dim a low-lumen headlight.
Thus, headlight washers have two purposes. It prevents your headlights from dimming from too much dirt, and it also prevents your headlights from causing glare, which can lead to accidents.
Deprecation Of Headlight Wipers
The focus on fuel efficiency to reduce emissions and the carbon footprint of car production forced manufacturers to drop headlight wipers from their designs. Reducing their carbon footprint means that they need to replace glass headlights with polycarbonate versions.
However, headlight wipers can easily scratch a polycarbonate headlight. Scratches on the headlight can cause glare, affecting the light projection and becoming a safety issue for cars in the opposite lane.
Additionally, the development of aerodynamic bodies in modern cars meant that headlights should no longer have flat surfaces. A curved headlight surface makes headlight wipers ineffective.
How do you know if your Audi A3 has a headlight washer?
The simplest way to tell if your Audi A3 has headlight washers is to check the bumper under the headlights. If the bumper under the headlights has a cutout, then there is a good chance that your Audi A3 has a headlight washer.
You might be wondering why it is not certain.
To reduce production costs, car manufacturers produce parts for their cars that they can use for multiple models and trims. Audi is no different.
Hence, Audi car models also share parts that can fit in more than one model. The front bumper is a common example.
Moreover, some Audi A3 models have the option to have headlight washers. The cutout on the front bumper prepares the A3 for the installation of a headlight washer.
How to use the headlight washer on Audi A3?
If you’re having a hard time activating the headlight washers on your Audi A3, it would be a great idea to check if your A3 has that feature. Since it is an optional feature in some A3 models, your car might not have one from the factory—especially if you did not ask for that option upon purchase.
Check under the front bumper cutout if the headlight washer’s components are there. Alternatively, if you find it difficult to get under your A3’s front bumper to check, bring it to your A3 dealer and ask them if your A3 has it.
Once you’re sure that your A3 has the headlight washer feature, the next step is activating them.
The activation of the headlight washer on your Audi A3 is tied to the windshield washer, the headlights, and (in some models) the level of the cleaning liquid. The requirements of the latter two must be satisfied so that the headlight washer will activate.
First, the headlights must be on. The headlight washer will not activate if the headlights are off.
Next, check the cleaning fluid level.
Most models share a reservoir for the windshield washer and the headlight washer. Additionally, some models monitor the level of cleaning liquid, ensuring that the windshield always has enough to use.
The headlight washer will no longer activate if the sensor determines that the level of cleaning liquid is too low for the windshield and the headlight washer.
Thus, check the level of your A3’s cleaning liquid regularly.
Activating The Headlight Washer
Pull the windshield wiper stalk towards the steering wheel to activate the windshield washer. Hold it for another second or two, and the headlight washer will activate.
Some models have a shorter wait for the headlight washer to activate after the windshield washer activates.
Thus, if you decide to use just the windshield washer, you can activate it in short bursts, deactivating it quickly. This will allow you to activate the windshield washer without activating the headlight washer if this is what you want.
Additionally, some versions of headlight washers do not activate each time you activate the windshield washer. Instead, they activate at specific intervals when you activate the windshield washer.
It will activate the first time you use the windshield washer, then the headlight washer will activate every third, fourth, or fifth time that you activate the windshield washer. This is regardless of whether you activate the windshield washer in short bursts only.
How to maintain headlight washers?
Modern headlights are made from polycarbonate—a type of thermoplastic. The yellowish headlights on modern cars are made from polycarbonate.
One of the properties of polycarbonate is that it absorbs UV rays to protect underlying layers from UV rays. However, its absorption of UV rays results in the discoloration or yellowing of polycarbonate.
Unfortunately, discoloration is not the only effect of harmful UV rays on polycarbonate.
UV rays degrade the material strength of polycarbonate, making it prone to damage. This leads to headlights becoming brittle.
To mitigate the effects of UV rays, polycarbonate headlights have a thin protective layer.
However, this protective layer weakens when you wash the headlights with strong detergents. Moreover, some chemicals weaken this protective layer.
Thus, it is important to use the correct cleaning liquid for your headlight washer and windshield washer. The common misconception is that if it cannot harm the windshield, it can’t harm the headlights.
However, the windshield is made from a different material that is more resistant to chemicals than the headlight.
Foam from the cleaning liquid can leave residue on the headlight’s surface. This can lead to glare and blurry light.
Use a mild headlight cleaner to get rid of dirt or foam residue from your headlights whenever you wash your car. Some headlight cleaners have sealants that help protect the polycarbonate material from UV rays.
Using tap water is not a good idea either.
Tap water can cause mineral deposits on the tank and hoses of the washers. This can lead to a blockage that can reduce the flow of cleaning liquid. If you need to dilute your cleaning liquid, use distilled water to prevent mineral deposits.
Turtle Wax T-43 Headlight Cleaner and Sealant is available on Amazon through this link.
Some cleaning liquids have antifreeze. This is important if you live in states that can have cold temperatures. The antifreeze will prevent the cleaning liquid from freezing and clogging the headlight washer’s tubes.
If the cleaning liquid freezes, it can damage the pump of the headlight washer. It can also cause the reservoir to leak.
Always check the label if you need to dilute the cleaning liquid. If you do, always use distilled water to prevent blockage.
Gunk M516 Windshield Washer Concentrate with Anti-Freeze is available on Amazon through this link.
If you can’t seem to activate the headlight washer on your Audi A3, check if your model or trim has one. Make sure that your headlights are on before using them. Otherwise, the headlight washer should activate whenever you use the windshield washer of your Audi A3.
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