Adjusting Your Headlights: How to Do It Step by Step


Oct 06th, 2020

Adjusting Your Headlights: How to Do It Step by Step

Want a gold nugget? Your light is your sight. This means your level of visibility en route depends on the extent of your headlights' proper functioning. Your headlights allow you to see the road clearly at all times. Over time, the headlight alignment shifts, distorting the focus of the light. Therefore, if you don't adjust the headlights, they won't do their job well.

In this posting, we'll be looking at how to adjust headlights.

When do I need to adjust my headlight alignment?

Before we go further, I know this is one of the central questions on your mind. Oh, right! I read minds! You might need to adjust headlights if:

  • You notice that your headlights no longer illuminate the road directly in front of you.
  • You replaced your headlights.
  • You'll be carrying more weight in the car than usual.
  • Your vehicle was in a collision.

What tools would I need to adjust headlights?

You'll need a screwdriver or ratchet that matches your vehicle's headlight adjuster screw. Due to the difference in design and maker, the position and screw of headlight adjusters vary in every car. You can check around your headlights to find them. They shouldn't be hard to find. But if they are, then reach for your vehicle's manual for help.

Once you can identify your adjuster and it's sort of screw, you can figure out other appropriate tools. Asides a ratchet or screwdriver, you'll also need the following to complete this process:

  • wall or a flat surface 
  • measuring tape
  • piece of board, thick enough to block out light
  • dry-erase marker
  • painter's tape

What are the steps involved in adjusting my car's headlights?

1. Level your vehicle

Before starting with the process, make sure that your car is level. Check the tyre pressure and remove any excess weight from the trunk. However, if you typically carry a heavy load, try to leave as much load simulating the weight of your usual baggage or cargo. Have someone sit or place an object in the driver's seat to mimic the driver's weight when driving. The idea is to create your average driving conditions. It's also advisable to carry out the process when your gas tank is half-full.

2. Position the vehicle

Park the vehicle on a level ground 3-5 meters from a wall and aim the headlights towards the wall. The room or space should be dark enough to enable you to see your lights clearly. Bounce on the four corners of the vehicle a few times to straighten out the shocks, then measure the distance of each headlight from the ground to ensure they're level.

3. Mark headlight axis

Turn on the lights. With a dry marker, draw a small dot at the centre of each of your headlights. It represents the headlight axis. Be sure to mark the centre of the low beam, not the high beam, as those can give you inaccurate readings.

4. Mark out the headlight axis on the wall

With the painter's tape, mark out the beam axis on the wall using the dot reflecting from the centre of your headlight as a guide. Do your markings such that tape runs horizontally and vertically; this would form a ‘+’ shape with the dot at the intersection of the lines. Make sure both headlight beams are level.

5. Back your vehicle away from the wall

It's time to adjust your lights. Back your vehicle away from the wall making sure that your headlights are 25 feet from the wall or surface. 

6. Adjust headlights

Use the board to block out the lights from one of the headlights. Then locate the headlight adjustment screw. You should notice signs for both the horizontal adjuster and vertical adjuster.

7. Adjust the vertical aim

Using your screwdriver or ratchet, turn the vertical adjuster, clockwise or anticlockwise, until the most intense part of the beam hits slightly below the centre tape line you marked on the wall. Your goal is to see the upper part of the '+' shape as dark, while the bottom part is bright with light. Once one is done, place the covering on the other headlight and repeat this process on the initially covered headlight.

8. Adjust the horizontal aim

Do the same thing with this horizontal aim as you did with the vertical. Turn the screw slowly until the most intense part of the beam is just to the right of the vertical line of the '+' like shape on the wall. Also, replace the covering on the other headlight to the adjusted one and repeat the process on the other headlight

9. Check the alignment

Now, remove covering entirely to check if both headlights line up close enough to the tape arrangement on the wall. Continue to make necessary adjustments until they are perfect.

10. Perform a road test

After all necessary adjustments are completed, replace all loose parts and take the car for a spin to note any further need for fine tuning. 

You see, the process is not as complicated as you might have thought. Adhere to instructions and test the alignment as you go to be sure your beams are where you want them to be.


The process on adjusting headlights might slightly differ from one vehicle to another as some manufacturers may require unique measurements. Therefore, it would do you a lot of good to check your owner's manual before you begin the process. Once you have successfully adjusted your headlights, you should see clearly and drive more safely in the dark.

If you notice your headlights looking dim, it might be the right time to replace them. In that case, you can check out online sellers first, since they’d be the safer options these days. However, vetting the sellers is of prime importance before you buy anything. Expect the process to consume some of your time, but there’s a way around that. Instead of searching the conventional way, you can instead request a part using our Car Part Finder. It’s free, fast, and effective! Try it now and get a quote!

By Damilare Olasinde