How To Aim & Align Your Headlights: Our Definitive Guide

How To Aim & Align Your Headlights: Our Definitive Guide

Headlights that aren't aligned properly can be a safety hazard for yourself and for other drivers. If your headlights aren't pointing where they should, they won't light up the road ahead for you very well, and you could even be dazzling other drivers. In this simple guide, we'll show you everything you need to know to help you aim and align your headlights properly.

When to align your headlights

One big mistake that many drivers make is only checking the alignment of their headlights when they install new ones. They think that once the bulbs are installed, their alignment won't change. This is not true, however, as headlights can shift during the course of their lifetime and need to be realigned.

The most important times to check your headlight alignment are after an accident and when you install new bulbs. A high-impact crash can jostle headlights, causing them to become misaligned. New headlights need to be aligned when installed simply to ensure the new lights are aimed at the road correctly.

In addition to adjusting your headlights after these kinds of events, it's also wise to give them a quick check regularly. Driving over uneven surfaces such as pesky potholes can cause the headlights to move over time.

How to align your headlights

Now that you know when to align your headlights, let's take a look at how it's done. It's easy to align headlights yourself at home, but if in doubt, go and see your auto-electrician. You don't need any fancy tools to do this. The main things you'll need are:

  • A flat surface
  • A wall/garage door - make sure that you've got around 25 feet between your car and the wall so that you can check the alignment from a distance
  • Chalk or tape to mark where your headlight beams land
  • Tape measure
  • Night time - you'll want to be able to see your headlight beams as much as possible, which is obviously easiest in the dark

The first thing you need to do is check that your car is level. Remove anything heavy from the boot and check that your tyre pressure is correct. Now, find where the horizontal and vertical adjusting screws are located. These are not the same screws that hold your headlight housing in place. The location of these screws will differ between vehicles, so if you're struggling to find them, check your vehicle handbook. It's also worth noting that the horizontal adjusting screw may not be in the same location as the vertical, so be sure to find both.

Next, pull your car all the way up to the wall or garage door and turn your low beam on. Don't use your high beam! To measure the angle of your beam, you'll need to make three marks on the wall or door:

  • Use your chalk or tape to mark the centre of your headlights horizontally. You can do this by figuring out roughly where the middle of the beam is and place a horizontal mark
  • Next, do the same thing vertically. You should end up with a cross or plus sign that sits in the middle of your beam
  • Finally, figure out where the middle of your vehicle is and mark this on the wall

Using the tape measure, measure 25 feet away from the wall and park your car in this spot. Now, you'll measure your beams again in the same way as you did before. The brightest spot should be roughly two inches below and slightly to the right of the cross you marked earlier. If you don't think your beam is pointing in the right direction, use the screws you found earlier to adjust.

Hey presto! Your headlights should now be perfectly aligned. Don't forget that it's a good idea to repeat this simple process after you've driven on a particularly bumpy road or after an accident.

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