How to adjust and align your car headlights: Do it yourself

  • Adjusting a car's headlamp beams can be done at home by following some easy and simple steps and with minimal tools.
Optimum performance of a car's headlamp is important for the safety and comfortable driving experience.
Optimum performance of a car's headlamp is important for the safety and comfortable driving experience.

Headlamps are one of the key elements of a car, especially for those who drive at night. Despite being such an important utility and safety component of the vehicle, headlamp care is often neglected by vehicle owners. Having properly adjusted headlamps on a car is necessary, as it helps the driver to see the road ahead more clearly. Both the headlamps should be adjusted equally, illuminating the road ahead in sync. The owner can easily make these adjustments, requiring only a few tools.

While driving on roads, especially on highways, we often see oncoming drivers flash their headlamps from high to low at the cars going in opposite directions. This is a way to signal that the headlamps are not properly adjusted or the high beams are on, temporarily blinding the oncoming cars' drivers. Also, if you are driving down the road and can't see more than 20-30 feet in front of you, your car headlamps are probably too low. If you see the tops of the trees while driving, the headlamps are too high. If you face such issues, it's time to adjust your car's headlamps. Here are some easy tips to follow to help you adjust your car headlamps.

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Park the car on level ground

First, find a level ground to shine the headlamps on a flat surface. Ensure the car is parked around six feet away from the vertical surface, the tyres are properly inflated, and the fuel tank is at least half full. Also, it is better to mimic the average weight usually carried in the vehicle. Make sure the shocks at all four wheels are levelled out. Then turn on the headlamps.

Create a centre axis on a flat wall

This can be best done at dusk or dawn. Ensure the headlamps are on a low beam. Use masking tape to mark the horizontal and vertical lines of the beam's centre axis as it shines on the vertical flat surface. The tapes should create a cross. Now measure the difference between the headlamps. Check the lines to see if both lights have the same measurement. If they don't match, note the difference and lower the highest centreline to the same height as the lowest centreline mark. Consult the user manual to do this properly.

Dismantle and adjust the lamps

Take off the headlamps' ring or bezel and keep the parts in a secure location. Make sure you know the location of both the vertical and horizontal adjuster screws. Also, have someone inside the car to help you with the adjustment process. Adjust the vertical and horizontal fields of the headlights. While doing so, ensure the assisting person inside the car turns the headlamps after each adjustment to check if things are fine. Ensure the most intense part of the headlight beam hits the centerline you taped on the wall.

Fine-tune the adjustments

Once you’re satisfied with the adjustments, take the car for a road test, and if one or both of the headlights aren’t quite up to par, repeat the process to fine-tune the headlamp performance.

How to adjust and align car headlamps
Step 1 :

Park the car on level ground

Step 2 :

Create a centre axis on a vertical wall

Step 3 :

Dismantle and adjust the lamps

Step 4 :

Ensure vertical and horizontal lines are right

Step 5 :

Ensure the centre axis is hit by the intense part of the beam

Step 6 :

Test the headlamp performance

Step 7 :

Fine-tune the adjustments if necessary

First Published Date: 28 Nov 2022, 16:36 PM IST

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