Car headlights illuminate the road allowing you to have a clear view of the road ahead when driving at night. However, those bulbs are not doing any good if they are not properly, aimed at the road. Many car owners fail to properly adjust their headlights, putting them at greater risk for an accident. 

Difficulty: Easy 

Duration: 30 Minutes  

How Often: As Needed

Tools Necessary for Install:

  • A Measuring Tape 
  • A dry erase marker 
  • Painters Tape 
  • A wall or flat surface 
  • At least 25 feet of space 

Picture yourself driving down a dark and windy road at night. Your headlights are dim but seem to be doing the job so, you ignore your lights and continue to drive. All of a sudden a deer darts into the road! In a situation like this, having your headlights configured, properly can make all the difference. At 60Mph, reaction time is narrowed down to seconds and being alerted of the road hazard just one second before a potential impact can make all the difference. It is also important to be aware of excessive dirt or foliage accumulated on the headlights, which can also reduce the brightness of your headlights, thereby reducing visibility, which could lead to accidents.

 You might have noticed that drivers of vehicles in the opposite direction sometimes flash their high beams at you. Flashing high beams can also be a friendly reminder, that your headlights are misaligned and may be causing drivers in the opposite lane to strain their eyes while driving. It is precisely these types of situations that indicate, you may want to adjust your car's headlights. Doing so, will not only help adjust your beams but also ensure they are properly aligned. This will maximize your visibility and also keep oncoming drivers safe on the road.

It is important to note, that some cars do not allow headlight adjustments. these cars often feature headlights that are contained in a headlight bezel, that is made of plastic, which is held in place by retaining screws. Unfortunately, you can not adjust these types of headlights. In such cases, you will have to get over to your local car service center for assistance.

Before adjusting your headlights, Take note of the following points.

  • Make sure the car is level. This includes removing any excess weight from your car’s trunk.
  • Ensure the tire pressure is at manufacturer recommended levels.
  • It is recommended to have someone sit in the driver’s seat. This will give you an idea of the weight exerted on the car when it is being driven.
  • Ensure the gas tank is half-full.

Positioning the car

Park the car on level ground around 10 to 15 feet from a dark garage door or wall with the headlights aimed at the wall.

Bounce the car on all of its corners a few times to level out the shocks. Then, measure the distance from the ground to each headlight to ensure the car’s suspension is level.

Confirm that the headlight aim adjustment wheel is at zero position. This may not be available in all car models. Consult your owner’s manual to check if your car his option.

Turning on the headlights

Once the car is on level ground, turn on the headlights in low beam. Do not use the fog lights or high beam. Then, mark the headlight’s horizontal and vertical lines on the wall using masking tape, creating a cross sign.

Now, measure the lines to check that they are even. If they are not, measure how far up the wall, the lower mark is. Then, lower the other center line marker to the same height. These center lines should not be more than 3.5 feet, or 1.1 m, from the ground.

Backing the car away from the wall

Once this measurement is completed, move your vehicle, exactly 25 feet away from the wall. Do not estimate this distance but use a tape measure to determine the distance. This distance can vary for your car’s make and model. In case of doubt, refer to the guidelines mentioned in the owner’s manual.

Now, turn off the headlights. Then, remove the headlight trim ring and look for the adjustment screws. These screws can be found next to the headlight. Some cars have the screws in the engine compartment behind the headlights. Typically, one screw can be found at the top of the headlight to adjust vertically and, another screw to one side of the headlight to adjust it horizontally. Some cars may have adjustment bolts rather than screws. If you are unable to find these, refer to your car’s owner’s manual.

Adjust each headlight separately. Block one headlight using a fabric or any other object while you test the other headlight. Having both headlights on can make it difficult to distinguish one from the other. You can also have someone sit in the driver’s seat to do the adjustments, or to turn the lights on and off while you perform the adjustments.

Adjusting the horizontal and vertical fields

You can turn the upper screw or bolt that adjusts the vertical field either clockwise or counterclockwise. Turning it clockwise raises the lights, and turning it counterclockwise lowers the lights. Some cars could work differently, so it could be a good idea to check the owner’s manual.

After you adjust your lights, turn the headlights on and observe the light pattern on the wall. The top of the most intense part of the beam must be even with or be just below the center of the line of the tape you created.

Now, repeat the steps with the horizontal field. Turn the side screws or bolts till the most intense part of the headlight beam is just to the right of the tape's vertical line. Then, check if both the headlights line up close enough to the tape marks on the wall. Continue doing the required adjustments to your satisfaction.

Testing the alignment on the road

Once you have made the necessary alignments, test drive the car to confirm your headlights are performing properly. Make a note of the problem areas and readjust as required. Even after the readjustment, if your headlights are dim, it may be an indication you need to change your headlights.

Adjusting your headlights is a simple and straightforward job. By adhering to our recommended instructions, you can test the alignment to ensure your car beams are positioned exactly where you'd like them to be. 

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The Advice, How-to guides, and maintenance information featured on is presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs. The presented guides on this site should be used at your own risk. assumes no responsibility for any physical injury that may occur to you or your vehicle while working on your vehicle. The information on this site is accurate and true to the best of Tascapart’s Knowledge, however, it is entirely possible that there may be omitted information or errors. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual or a licensed professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. You may also refer to your owner’s manual for specific diagnostic, repair, and tool information for your particular vehicle.