Dimming headlights

Do older vintage (1999) headlights dim as they age, or do they just burn out like tungsten bulbs in the house?
My son has this problem–lives far away. No signs of low voltage in the car, and the plastic lenses are only fogged a little bit.

The bulbs do dim some, but any fogging will make a big difference. I’d polish them and put in new bulbs.

Sounds like fogging is more likely to make this difference than dimming–for a car with 125k.

My son is mechanically incompetent. If you buy headlight bulbs at AutoZone or someplace, will they put them in?

Batteries and wipers they will install, most cars, most locations. Headlight bulbs, generally not. If your son is mechanically incompetent he has the same choice we all did. Learn or pay.

I know VIP used to put them in, but now they’re O’Riley’s and I don’t know their current policy. Pepboys has now bee acquired too, so I don’t know what’s going on there either.

Suggest he get Silverstar Ultra bulbs. They’re much brighter.

Some cars have headlights that are very difficult to replace. I’ve seen quotes as high as $500.

All depends on make/model/year.

Depending on the car I would say replacing the bulbs is the first and easiest and cheapest method. What’s the year make model of car?

1999 Lexus ES300. I have seen online videos and it looks easy. But I still doubt whether he could do it.

Those are very easy to replace. However, some people just can’t figure out how to do stuff like that. I helped a fellow veteran a few days ago that had broken the hood release cable on an old pickup. He’d gotten the hood unlatched, but couldn’t figure out what to do next. Some people simply aren’t at all mechanical.

If your son can’t or won’t do it, maybe he should ask at a chain auto parts store if they will do it for him when he buys the bulbs. He can call the store if he prefers. Maybe the online site has information. I imagine someone like Advance Auto Parts would do it since they will replace batteries if the car is in their lot.

Places like AutoZone might replace the bulbs if nothing has to be moved or unfastened. A detail shop will buff the lenses to a very good clearness for a reasonable charge. My personal choice would be to actually pay to have the bulbs changed that way if they break something most likely they will take care of it.

It would be cheap to both replace the bulbs and do a Meguiar’s PlastX treatment by hand. He should do one side first to see how much difference it makes, as there could be other causes.

Meguiar’s PlastX worked well on my 99 Mystique. The low beam bulbs (which were both still working) had a brownish/grayish discoloration, so I replaced them with standard Sylvania bulbs. The original bulbs had about 110K on them, and I figured it was better to replace them in my driveway rather than be on the road with a one-eyed car.

Our local O’Reilly’s or Autozone will install bulbs as long as no tools are needed, meaning that if it’s the type that you can simply replace with your fingers they will help you. I don’t believe any tools are needed to replace the headlamp bulbs on that car. I would try that first.

I think whether the staff at a parts place is allowed to do installations in the parking lot varies state to state too. No harm done to ask though. The worse they could say is “no”.

Thanks to everyone for the helpful information. I will repost here when/if this gets sorted out.