How to Adjust Car Headlights

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To adjust your headlights, this small manual is useful

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How to Adjust Car HeadlightsHave you ever been blinded by someone elses headlights, or noticed that your own headlights are not illuminating the road directly in front of you? If all you can see is the foliage on the side of the road, or oncoming drivers are constantly flashing their high beams or honking their horn at you, most likely your headlights are misaligned, and giving those other drivers an eyeful. They're easy to adjust with a few measurements and a screwdriver. See Step 1 to get started.

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Steps

1.

1

Level your car. Start by removing any excess weight from the trunk of the car. Also, ensure that the tire pressure in all tires is at the manufacturer's recommended levels. If possible, have somebody sit in the driver's seat, and that the gas tank is half-full. As well as this, check that your headlight aim adjustment wheel (if fitted) is at the zero position.

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2.

2

Position your car. On level ground, park 10 to 15 feet from a dark wall or garage door, with the front of the car aimed at the wall. A paved parking lot or level driveway is best.

Bounce the car a couple times on all four corners, to make sure the shocks are leveled.

Measure the distance to ground of both headlights, to ensure that the suspension itself is level.[1]

3.

3

Turn the headlights on. Do not use your high beams or fog lights. Mark the horizontal and vertical center lines of the headlight beams with masking tape to make two Ts on the wall or garage door.

4.

4

Make sure the lights are level. Place a carpenters level between the two marked center lines to see if they are even. If they are not even, use a tape measure to measure how far up the wall the lower mark is and lower the other center line marker to the same height. These center lines should be no higher than 3.5 feet from the ground.

5.

5

Back your car 25 feet from the wall or garage door. Turn off the headlights. Remove the trim ring from around the headlights and locate the adjusting screws. These screws are typically found adjacent to the headlight, though some manufacturers put the screws in the engine compartment, behind the the headlights. The horizontal adjustor and the vertical adjuster should be marked.

Always defer to the specs in the owner's manualsome manufacturers recommend different distances for proper adjustment.

There should be one screw at the top of the headlight to adjust vertically and another screw to one side of the headlight to adjust horizontally, though some cars may feature adjustment bolts rather than screws.

6. 6

Adjust each headlight separately. Block one with a sweatshirt or other object while adjusting and testing the other, since the light-bleed can make it difficult to distinguish one from the other. Have a helper sit in the driver's seat while you do the adjustments, to turn the lights on and off while you make the proper adjustments.[2]7.

7

Turn the upper screw or bolt to adjust the vertical field. Clockwise turns should raise the lights, while counterclockwise turns should lower the lights.

Turn the headlights on after adjusting and look at the light pattern on the wall. The top of the most intense part of the beam should be even with, or just below the center of the line of tape you made.

8. 8

Turn the side screws or bolts to adjust the horizontal field. Now, you'll do basically the same thing with the right-left adjustment. The majority of the intense part of the beam should be to the right of the vertical line.

9.

9

Test your alignment on the road. Take your car out for a test drive to make sure the headlights are adjusted properly. Readjust if necessary by repeating the above steps.

Here's how to correctly adjust your headlights

Headlights are some of those things that everyone needs to use, every time its dark. Most of the time driving at night and using your headlights is a worry free and simple operation, that is until someone appears behind you with their headlights blinding you via your rear view mirror.

When this happens its not only annoying but dangerous and distracting for drivers in front of you and oncoming traffic.

So what causes this to happen? Well there could be a few potential reasons; a front end impact could alter the angle of the headlights or crack the casing which holds the light in place, time and vibrations may cause the angle to change and so could replacing the whole headlight assembly.

However, the most likely cause of your new possum spotting headlights is because the rear of the car is loaded up, either with gear in the boot or a trailer on the back. If carrying heavy loads or towing a trailer is a common occurrence then the only viable solution may be a set of load levelling-levelling shock absorbers.

If youre not weighing down the back of your car but youre still lighting up the trees rather than the road, fear not as adjusting the headlights is a fairly simple process;

Adjusting your lights from the dash:

In some newer cars, the headlights can be simply adjusted by using a button or knob located near the right hand side of the dash for the driver. However if your vehicle doesnt have a button or knob use the steps below.

Adjusting your lights from under the hood:1. Park the car on level ground 7.5 metres (use a tape measure) from a flat vertical surface, your garage wall will work.

2. Open the bonnet and look at the back of the headlight casing, on most models there will be two adjustment screws/bolts on the rear or top of each headlight-locate them and grab the right tool in order to turn them (check the owners manual to be sure theyre the right ones).

3. Cover one headlight with a towel or similar and turn the headlights on (you may want to have the engine running if your battery isnt new).

4. One screw will adjust the headlight up/down while the other will adjust left/right keeping your eye on the beam on the wall slowly turn one of the screws to determine which direction its adjusting, if its not the way you want turn it back to the original location and use the other screw.

5. Ideally the beam on the wall should be no higher than the centreline of the headlight with the area of most intensity directly in front of the headlight casing(use your tape measure here again to measure from the ground to the middle of your headlight and do the same on the wall when adjusting you can even put a mark on the wall to help you aim).

6. In Australia you want the most intensity from the left hand headlight on the road shoulder, and as such the top of the headlight beams should display a pair of laidback L shapes on the wall as seen in the illustration.

7. Repeat the procedure for the other headlight.

If your headlights dont appear quite so simple to adjust, it is best to take the car to your local Motorama Service Departmentfor a professional to quickly sort them out.

How to Adjust Your Headlights

Need to adjust your beams? Here's out quick-and-dirty guide to ensuring your headlights are aligned to shine on the road rather than in the eyes of oncoming drivers.

By Paul Weissler

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MSVG/Flickr

January 13, 2005 12:00 AM Text Size: A . A . A

If you're on vacation and the back of the car is loaded with hunting and fishing gear, maybe even a large catch, plus other "road hugging weight," that's probably the cause of your headlight problems. That extra weight pushes down the rear enough to tilt up the front and the beams. If you periodically carry heavy rear-end loads as part of your lifestyle, the only real cure is a pair of load-leveling air shocks.

However, in most cases, the headlamp aim has gone off, and simply needs readjustment. Why? Replacing the front headlamp assembly certainly could do ita stack-up in manufacturing tolerances could affect the way the assembly seats. Even a new halogen bulb might be responsible, although that's less likely.

And headlamp aim doesn't last forever, particularly if the assembly loosens and shifts or if the vehicle's suspension sags.

Many models (particularly Hondas and Acuras) have a bubble level in the headlamp assembly to check vertical aim. This does make it easier to diagnose unwanted tilt. Just make sure the tire pressures are at specs and the vehicle is on level ground (check with a carpenter's bubble level on a flat surface). Have the fuel tank half-full and someone in the driver's seat. Reposition the car if necessary to get a level location. Jounce each side of the front end of the car up and down a few times to settle the suspension. Measure from any convenient fixed point on each of the headlamps to the ground; the measurements should be within 1/2 in., indicating the suspension is not sagging excessively at either side. Then, locate the vertical adjuster and turn it to center the bubble.

Even if your headlamps have a bubble level, it's strictly for vertical aim. It's less common, but still possible, for the headlamp aim to be off horizontally. The left headlamp may be aimed at the oncoming cars instead of straight ahead or slightly to the right, and that's equally annoying. But you might be in luck. Some cars with a bubble level for vertical aim also have an alignment indicator for horizontal aim (here again, Honda and Acura). You just have to turn the adjuster to reset the indicator.

On most vehicles, however, it isn't quite that simple because there is no bubble level or horizontal alignment indicator. All you have are the adjusters, and in some cars, only for vertical aim. If the horizontal aim is off and there is no horizontal adjuster,