If other drivers are flashing their lights at you, it could be a sign that your headlights are not adjusted correctly. Another telltale sign is when you cannot see the full road with your high or low beams. All the bouncing around your car does going over bumps and potholes will gradually throw your headlights out of adjustment.
If you get into as small fender bender or are carrying a heavy load in the trunk, this will also throw off the aim of your headlights. Some high end automobiles aim their own headlights and some you can aim yourself, using a level driveway, a screwdriver, measuring tape and patience. But most headlights need to be aimed at your local repair shop or dealer using their expensive, specialized headlight aiming equipment.
Adjusting Your Own Headlights Tips
If you decide to adjust your own headlights, here are some helpful hints. You only need few tools to start working on the headlights:
- screwdriver that will fit the adjustment screws, probably a Philips head
- masking tape
Once you have your tools, wait till it is getting dark and then find and park your vehicle on level ground near a garage door or wall. On the wall of the garage door mark light’s horizontal centerlines with masking tape. This masking tape should make a straight line across the wall. Also mark the vertical centerline for each light. So you should now have a basic idea or a T area where the headlight should be centered.
Next move your car back 10 to 25 feet from the garage or wall. Before turning on your lights, find the adjusting screws. These screws typically will be inset close to the headlight. You want to find these screws ahead of time instead of searching for them after the headlights have heated them up and they are too warm to touch. The adjusting screws should consist of a horizontal screw and a vertical screw, each with a small spring behind them. Some higher end vehicles come equipped with a small level. If your vehicle has this you will see it attached to the top of the headlight under the hood.
You adjust the lights to the left or right by turning the side adjuster screws. You want to adjust the low beam lights so that they hit two to four inches below the horizontal centerline and two to four inches right of the vertical centerline. You do not want the lights to be completely centered either horizontal or vertically. If the lights were totally centered they could blind the oncoming traffic when you drive on the roadways. Being pointed slightly down from center allows the light beam to keep light on the road.
Once you have turned the screws and aimed the light beams accordingly, your headlights should now properly adjust. Remember that cars can differ so check your vehicle’s owner’s manual if this technique does not work for your car. Also see how often the manual says you should check the headlights and they should be adjusted. Normally it is recommended that headlights be adjusted every 12 months or whenever you notice that the lights are out of alignment.