How To Adjust Auto Headlights

When adjusting auto headlights, you need only very basic materials: one is a screwdriver and second, some masking tape.

  1. Park your car in your garage, facing a wall (your car should be about 10 to 25 feet away from the wall). These pointers are highly important (as you will see later on): your car should be parked directly in front of the wall, not at a slanting angle, not at a sloping lot (should be very level) and not too near nor to far. Also, it’s preferable that nobody be inside the car while you are doing the auto headlight adjusting.
  2. Next, look for the screws that affix your headlights to your car. These screws are typically a top screw and a side screw, and they both come with spring attachments. Note where they are and proceed to the next step. 
  3. Use your masking tape to mark the spot on the wall directly in front of your car where the car’s headlights are. In other words, imagine a direct line from the two auto headlights to the wall, and that’s where you put your marks. Mark also the vertical centerline of the headlights.
  4. After this, turn on your headlights on the low beam setting. Compare this actual beam with the markings that you have made on the wall (pointers below). If you see that the headlights need some adjusting, you can use your screwdriver to adjust the screws – if you turn the top screw you’d be adjusting the lights to high or low (typically, you do it clockwise to raise the beam and counterclockwise to lower it) while adjusting the side screw would enable you to adjust the beam from right to left.

How would you know which direction the beams should strike? A pointer is that the low beam lights should be about two to four inches below your marked horizontal centerline (which is, if you recall, directly in front of the auto headlights), and about two to four inches to the right of your projected vertical centerline. Why not directly to the center? Because auto headlights that strike directly frontwards would blind oncoming vehicles. What you’d need as a driver would be to see the road directly in front of you, hence the lower beam of the auto headlights. 

It’s highly recommended that you do this auto headlight adjusting while it is dark, so that you could easily see where the light beams fall on. Again, remember that it is crucial that you park your car in a level area so that you could see the actual line of your auto beam.

Remember, the results of your auto headlight adjustment would also depend on the make and model of your car. Before anything else, remember to check your owner’s manual to see if the manufacturer recommends another way of adjusting your auto headlights. But the instructions above should work for typical car models.

Also, when in doubt, it is always safest to hire an auto mechanic to do the job for you. You could learn from him how to do the auto headlight adjustment, so that you could do it for yourself next time. Good luck!


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