How to Align Headlights at Home

How to Align Headlights at Home

Headlights play an important part in ensuring that you are able to see the road clearly in the dark. Poorly aligned headlights can cause great inconvenience by inhibiting your ability to see properly. Luckily fixing the headlight alignment is a very easy task. All you need is a measuring tape and a screwdriver. However, there are certain measuring details that you need to be mindful of while aligning the headlights. Read along to learn how to align headlights at home and significantly improve your visibility in the dark.

Reasons for Unaligned Headlights

Headlights can get unaligned for several factors. The most common reasons for incorrectly aligned headlights are:

  • Collision of the car’s front
  • Hitting potholes on the road
  • Driving over a very bumpy road

Signs for Spotting Unaligned Headlights

It is important that you check your headlights and lights so that you can drive safely. You should overhaul the cluster lights during regular maintenance. You can easily fix cluster lights by yourself also.

Following are the signs for unaligned headlights:

  • Incorrectly aligned headlights are not only an ordeal for you but also a nuisance for other drivers on the road. Unaligned headlights can cause the drivers of oncoming cars temporary blindness, which can be extremely dangerous. Some of the drivers might angrily express their annoyance. Although the complaints are an apparent sign, it is best to notice other signs before running into such a situation.
  • Another sign of poorly aligned headlights is that you are unable to see the road beyond 20 to 30 feet. It implies that the headlights are positioned lower than the required angle.
  • If you can only see the top of trees while driving on roads surrounded by trees, it is a sign that your headlights are aligned way too high than where they are supposed to be.
  • If you notice any of the signs mentioned above, it is time for you to align your car’s headlights.

How to Align Headlights at Home

If your car’s headlamps get damaged due to a collision, you should replace the old headlamps first before fixing the alignment. Also, notice if your indicator stalk needs to be fixed. Aligning the car’s headlights is an easy task that will take 15-20 minutes roughly if you have things required at your disposal.

Things required

  • A measuring tape
  • A masking tape
  • A screwdriver
  • Your car’s manual (if available)
  • A cardboard piece
  • A carpenter’s level

Necessary Measures to be Taken

Prior to aligning the headlights properly, there are certain measures that you first need to undertake in order to level your car.

  • First, you should make sure that your car’s fuel tank is only half full.
  • Secondly, you should remove any additional weight from the trunk of your car. Try maintaining the normal weight your car would usually have.
  • Now you should push the car downwards from all the four corners; this will help level out the shocks. If they are faulty, it is best that you buy new shocks and replace them before adjusting the headlights to avoid having your headlights shine at a weird angle.
  • Also, check the tire pressure to ensure that the tires are properly inflated.

Right Conditions and Measurements

Step 1 – Before you adjust your car’s headlights, you should consult your car’s owner’s manual to determine the headlight’s recommended distance from the ground level. It will also tell you the exact location where you need to adjust the headlights.

Step 2 – The next step is to park your car facing a wall so that you can see the light. Make sure the car is at the ground level so that you can get the right angle for the light. You can ensure this by placing a carpenter’s level on your car’s roof.

Step 3 – Ensure that the area you park your car in is dimly lit so you can see the exact position where the light shines from the headlights. You’ll need some source of light to be able to work properly.

Step 4 – Park your car about 6 feet away from the wall and turn on the headlights at the main beam.

Step 5 – Using the masking tape, mark vertically and horizontally, creating a center axis by making a cross sign for both the beams. These beams should be even and not above 3.5 feet from the ground. Place a carpenter’s level in between the two marked beams to check. If they are uneven, use a measuring tape to measure the distance between the marked crosses and the ground. Adjust the crosses to be at an even distance from the ground.

Step 6 – Use the measuring tape and measure 25 feet from the car and place a visible object there. Reverse your car so that your car’s headlights are at that measured point. Now see the difference between the brightest spot of the beam and the marked area.

Adjusting the Headlights

Step 1 – Remove the bezel or the trim ring off the headlights. Adjust one headlight at a time by placing a cardboard piece in front of the other headlight. It is necessary so that the lights from the headlights don’t merge.

Step 2 – Locate the adjustment screws on the headlights. They are either adjacent to the headlights or present in the engine compartment right behind the headlights. The horizontal and vertical adjustment screws would be clearly marked.

Step 3 – Now use a screwdriver and start moving it either clockwise or counterclockwise on the vertical adjustment screw to change the height of the beam. The brightest part should now be at either the center or right below the vertical line of the tape.

Step 4 – For the horizontal adjustment, turn the screwdriver clockwise for inward adjustment and counterclockwise for outward adjustment. The bright part should now be at the exact center of the marked cross.

Step 5 – Once done, cover the light with the cardboard and carry out similar adjustments on the other headlight.

Step 6 – You can continue making tweaks till you are satisfied that the headlights are at the center of the axis.

And there you have it, perfectly aligned headlights. You can now take your car for a test drive and spot the visible difference.

Knowing how to align headlights at home can save you the hassle of going to the mechanics for an easy repair. It can also help you view the road better at night, minimizing your chances of any accidents. If your lights are dim, you might want to clean and restore your headlights; otherwise, you can just replace them with new lights. If your car has damaged quarter lights, you should also repair the quarter lights for better viewing.