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Aiming Headlights: How To Get The Proper Alignment

Proper headlight adjustment is a necessary safety measure because if they are not aligned right, you won’t get the full visibility while driving at night. Besides, misadjusted headlights don’t illuminate the road directly in front of you, causing blinding the eyes of oncoming drivers instead of shining the roads. So, aiming headlights to the right direction is necessary if you want to keep things safe while driving.

Why Headlight Alignment Tilts?

How to adjust headlights? The simple reason is time. Headlights are not meant to be aligned forever, and they slip out even faster if not adjusted every few years. However, a couple of other reasons are in the play too:

  • One of the common reasons of misplaced aiming headlights is hauling excess weight in the trunk or cargo area. It pushes down the rear part, causing light beams tilting upward. You can use load-leveling air shocks to fix such an issue.
  • Worn shocks can also cause the headlamps to tilt upward direction. You can fix the problem by either replacing the shocks or adjusting headlights to the right direction.
  • A front-end collision with another vehicle or something else can tamper with your headlight alignment.

how to determine proper aiming headlightsPhoto Credit: Hella

How To Determine Incorrect Headline Adjustment?

Level the car. To determine improper headlight adjustment, you have to level the car by properly inflating the tires, keeping the fuel tank at least half-full, and having someone sitting in the driver’s seat. Now, park the car on a flat ground facing toward a wall. The distance between the car and the wall should be 10 to 25 feet, with the car lights directed at the wall. Make sure the shocks are level by pushing all the corners of the car up and down a few times.

Measure the lights. Measure the height between the ground and a fixed point on each of the headlamps with a tape measure. Turn on the lights, and use the tape to mark both the horizontal and vertical centerlines of the headlight beams. The centerlines have to be even. If that’s not the case, lower the higher point to the level of the lower one.

Park the car. Now, park the car exactly 25 feet away from the wall.

headlight alignment in a car

Photo Credit: Complete Vehicle Services

How To Get The Proper Aiming Headlights?

  1. Find the adjustment screws on your vehicle, which sits on the top and side of the light housing. Adjust the headlights one at a time.
  2. You can raise or lower the headlamps by turning the screw on the top of each light clockwise and anticlockwise, respectively. Keep turning the screw until the brightest part of the light beam falls directly on or just below the tape line center on the wall.
  3. Turn the screw on the side for adjusting headlights to left or right direction.

Take a test road drive to find out if the aiming headlights have been done properly. You can repeat the process until you can adjust them to the right position.

Steps To Aim And Adjust Headlights

Adjusting headlights is an easy but often trivial task that takes time to get right. Be patient because every car is different. With some practice and patience, you can learn to do it in a matter of minutes.

How to align headlights yourself in the easiest way? Start doing the alignment at dusk or night. Some vehicles have a bubble vial, like a carpenter’s level, as part of the headlight adjusting setup. This tool will make the job of headlight aiming a lot easier—just make sure your car stand on totally ground level .

Preparation Step: Manual & Tools

Check your vehicle owner’s manual for the location of the headlight to find vertical and horizontal adjusting screws. Note there’s 2 types of screws: adjusting screws and the screws or fasteners that hold the headlights in place. The adjusting screws need to have long shafts; long enough to span the whole vertical or horizontal edges of the headlight buckets.

Step 1: Location

Find a level surface in front of a garage door or wall with over 25 ft of space. This is because when necessary you can back away from the wall in a later step.

Step 2: Measuring & Marking

Use the measuring tape, measure 25 ft from the wall and use the tape to mark the 25-ft line. Colored or white chalk also works.

Step 3: Car Preparation

Park the vehicle close to the wall and turn the headlights on at low beam option.

Step 4: Three Marks

You’ll make three separate markings as below:

  • Mark where the horizontal centerlines of low-beams present on the wall
  • Mark vertical centerline of each beam on the wall
  • Mark the mid line of the vehicle on the wall because it’ll help determine side-to-side alignment later

Step 5: Back Again

Drive back in a straight line so that the vehicle’s front is at the previously marked 25-foot line.

Step 6: Positioning

Check to see if headlights’s brightest spots are two inches below and to the right of the marked horizontal and vertical headlight centerlines. If they’re not, turn the vertical or horizontal adjusting screws or both, as much as needed, for proper headlight adjustment.

And well done! You should have a good understand on how to align headlights properly.

13 Comments
  1. Sekajja Peter says

    This was more than knowledge

    1. Trang Tran says

      Thank you for your comment. Find this article useful? Please share exciting updates with your friends and they will love it!

  2. dennis mumia says

    Wow I like it

    1. Trang Tran says

      We are happy to receive your comments. Please share with your friends so they can enjoy this article, too.

  3. peter kosgei says

    What is the possible problem when an automatic car raises the R.P.M meter to 3 and yet the speed is still lower than 30…km/hr

    1. Trang Tran says

      Thank for your question. We will search more information about it. Please keep following us for updates

  4. Bernard Bukosi says

    Thanks for your updates. Am following every detail you put across. Keep up the good work.

    1. Trang Tran says

      Thank you. We will provide more useful information like this. Stay tuned

  5. Henry Sukali says

    Cars from Japan are reliable and dependable. Continue making trips easy and comfortable.

    1. Trang Tran says

      Arigatou. Thank you. Your comments encourage us a lot.

  6. Alberto Ruiz says

    I’m not sure where you are getting your info, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for magnificent info I was looking for this information for my mission.

  7. Shadali says

    Where can I locate the adjustment screw on Honda Freed Hybrid 2017.
    Been searching on youtube and www but could not find any help. Thanks

  8. Phil G says

    I have a Suzuki carry 2003 1.3 petrol panel van(YD03ZBF). Can I adjust the headlights, using the methods above, to make the light beam acceptable in France ? I wish to do this as I need the van to pass the French version of MOT, called the “Controle Technique” ?
    I hope you can Advise

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