Not having a vehicle’s headlights properly aligned can create a nuisance to other road users and in other situations can even get the driver in trouble with the law. While aligning a vehicle’s headlights is a DIY project that most persons can easily undertake, to get a more precise alignment, consider taking the vehicle to a shop that has specialized alignment equipment. However, we will explain how to align headlights as a DIY project.
If the lights are aimed too high, they can really create a safety hazard when traveling at nights, especially if the road has obstacles and potholes. If they are aimed too low they may not afford the driver the advantage of seeing far enough ahead to take defensive or evasive measures to prevent damage: to the vehicle, to property and other road users. The problem can be just as bad if the lights are too far right or too far left.
Things that are needed to align headlights:
- A Phillips screwdriver
- A flashlight
- A wall facing a level ground
- A level (optional)
- Tape to mark the wall
How to Align Headlights Yourself
A headlight may have vertical misalignment, horizontal misalignment or both. Vertical misalignments are easier to deal with because most cars come with adjustments to easily fix the problem, while horizontal misalignments sometimes require jostling with the lights mounting.
Before beginning, check that the car is level. Even though it is on level ground, incorrectly inflated tires or unevenly distributed weight, in the car, can cause the headlights to pitch too high or low. Park the vehicle facing a wall that’s exactly 25 feet away, both lights should be at the same distance from the wall.
- Mark the center of the lights with tape in an X pattern.
- Turn on the lights and make note if any light beams is pointed off center. Be careful not to leave the lights on during the entire alignment process, especial if the engine is off, as doing so can run down the batteries and make it difficult to restart the vehicle.
- Open the bonnet and identify the light’s alignment adjustments. The owner’s manual can be used to locate them if they are proving difficult to find.
- Use the screwdriver to adjust one light to the correct height slowly, and then align the other light with it. Use the level to do a more precise job of leveling both lights.
- Also, ensure that the lights aren’t adjusted too high to the extent that they would be an annoyance to other drivers.
After the Lights have been Aligned
It will be necessary to do a test drive to ensure that a good job was done with the alignment. Check that the lights are projecting far enough ahead without being so high that they are blinding other road users, even while on low beam. Also, check the horizontal alignment to ensure that the lights aren’t too far to the left or right.