How to Adjust Your Car’s Headlights

How to Adjust Your Car’s Headlights
Photo: Virrage Images, Shutterstock
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While we may not think about it like an oil change, making sure your vehicle’s headlights are properly adjusted is an important part of routine maintenance. Having a headlight (or two) pointing off in the wrong directions not only makes it harder for you to see the road and your surroundings when you’re driving in the dark — it’s also a safety concern for other drivers.

You’ve probably been in the position where someone’s misaligned headlights shone directly in your eyes, temporarily blinding you. Well, you don’t want to do that to someone else. In an article for The Drive, Chris Teague walks us through how to adjust our car’s headlights at home. Here’s what to know.

Why can’t headlights just stay in place?

According to Teague, at some point, all vehicles will need their headlights adjusted — including the ones with fancy features, like being able to move the headlights’ position from within the car. Essentially, he explains, your headlights fall out of alignment because of totally normal everyday driving conditions, like uneven surfaces, bumps in the road — that kind of thing.

How to adjust your headlights at home

Of course, the specifics will depend on the make and model of your vehicle, but here’s a (very) quick and simple summary, courtesy of Teague:

You’ll need to adjust the headlight units, which are enclosed and mounted on either side of your vehicle’s nose. Modern headlight enclosures are separate from the body of your vehicle and are mounted with screws. There are also adjustment screws on the headlight units that allow vertical and horizontal adjustment. Using a fixed point on a wall, vehicle owners can aim their headlights using the adjustment screws and some simple measurements.

No, those aren’t the full instructions — you’ll need to read his full article for those, and there are a lot of steps. But, per usual, his directions are clear and easy to follow, even for those with minimal experience working on cars.

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