Crystal Lake and Barrington Auto Repair

How to adjust and aim your car's headlights

If you find yourself needing to replace one or both of your vehicle's headlights (also called headlamps), you'll need to adjust them to aim correctly.

Your headlights may also need adjusting if you're planning on transporting a heavy load that can make the front of your car aim upward.

To do the job yourself, first, drive your car close to a wall, facing it straight on, then bounce it, front and back, to settle the suspension. Turn on your headlights, then make a T with tape in the center of each light beam on the wall, making sure the lines are level and at the same height, advises wikiHow. 

Back your car 25 feet from the wall, exactly, although different manufacturer's require different distances, so check your owner's manual first. Turn on the lights and remove the trim to reveal the screws that adjust the lights, one for vertical and one for horizontal, according to wikiHow.

Cover one headlight while you check the other. A clockwise turn of the screw adjusts the lights higher; counterclockwise, lower. The top of the brightest part of the light on the wall should be even with the tape line. 

Do the same with the horizontal adjustment, making the brightest part of the beam just to the right of the vertical tape line. 

Your headlights should be adjusted now. Take your car for a night drive to check. If they are not correct, you can repeat the process until they are adjusted correctly.

It's important to note that adjusting your headlights yourself should only be a temporary fix that should be completed by a trusted mechanic in order to ensure safe driving for you and other drivers on the road.


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