Lighting the road at night and making sure that you and other drivers are as safe as possible, your headlights are such a vital component to driving at night that you’ll be ticketed if yours don’t work properly. It’s also important that your headlights are properly set so that they don’t obstruct the sight of other drivers when on the road and so that you can see any hazards that are in the road or that appear suddenly. Fortunately, no matter how mechanically handy you are, setting your headlights properly is one of the most simple things you can do and requires very few tools. All you need is a Phillips-head screwdriver, some masking tape and measuring tape and you’ll be ready to adjust your headlights as needed.
You may wonder how the headlights can be moved but there are a few different factors that can contribute to uneven lights, everything from simply replacing the headlamp bulb with a brand that’s weighted differently from the current bulb to driving with a heavy load in your trunk can cause the alignment of the headlights to shift.
1. Make sure that your tires are inflated to the proper PSI, the gas tank is at least half full and that there is someone sitting in the driver seat. The idea behind doing this is to make sure that you replicate typical driving conditions to get the most accurate measurement of your headlight alignment.
2. Park your car on a flat surface that has a wall or garage door between 10-25 feet away with your headlights facing the wall or garage door. If neither is available, you can always consider the ground floor of a parking ramp.
3. Settle the suspension and level your car by pushing up and down on all four corners of your car. This will ensure that your shocks are level.
4. Measure your lights with the tape measure from the same point on both headlights to the ground. Your results should be less than a half an inch different from each other and will confirm to you that your suspension is good and not sagging in any area and causing inconsistent measurements.
5. Turn your headlights on but not the high beams or fog lamps. Use the masking tape to mark off the centerlines of the lights both vertically and horizontally.
6. Your centerlines shouldn’t be higher than three and a half feet from the ground so measure the lines. Check and make sure that the centerlines are even and if they aren’t, move the high mark lower.
7. After all of that is done, back 25 feet away from the wall and make sure it’s exact by using the tape measure.
2. Make sure to adjust each headlight individually and cover up the light you want to block to avoid inaccurate test results.
3. The top screw will adjust the vertical alignment so move it clockwise to raise the light and counter to lower it. The brightest part of the beam should be right in the center of your tape marking on the wall. Be sure to turn the headlights off when adjusting them and back on to test them.
4. Adjust your horizontal field with the screw on the side following the same guidelines as you did for the top screw with the brightest part of the light to the right of the vertical line.
5. Refer to your vehicle’s guide to see if there are specifications that should be adhered to or if the screws are in a different place.
6. Get on the road and test out that alignment and see if it needs to be further adjusted. Preferably find a darker road so you can judge the headlights a little easier.
If you’re having issues finding the proper alignment for your headlights, you can always seek the help of a professional mechanic. Having a properly aligned headlight can save you from getting ticketed as well as will help you & other drivers on the road to clearly see ahead and drive safely.