Having headlights that work is important, this we all know! But those bulbs aren’t doing any good if they’re not correctly aimed at the road, and that’s something many owners forget or downright neglect when owning a car. Over time, bumps, rough roads along with age, car’s headlights can become misaligned and could lead to reduced visibility, which is essential when driving at night.
Think about this….
When you’re traveling at 60 miles per hour, you have mere seconds to avoid a collision if something darts into the road. Misaligned lights can reduce reaction time to zero.
Not to panic, all you need is some adjustments. The task of adjustment is easy though often tedious to get right and every car is different. With a little patience and practice you can learn to do it in your driveway in a matter of minutes! if your car lacks such convenience, don’t worry….WE GOT YOU!
We have a surefire DIY way to check your headlight alignment and get your lights back into shape.
Do you Have Bubble Levels?
Start by checking whether your car has built-in bubble levels meant to help you align the headlights. Some vehicles offer vertical and horizontal bubble levels that make it easy to tell if your headlight aim is off. They’re often located on the top and side of the headlight unit. With these, you can tweak the aim until the bubble is centered in the level. Some makes and models offer just vertical or horizontal bubble levels while most others provide no visible alignment indicator at all.
Is Your Car Level?
Park on flat ground and make sure your car is level. That means unloading heavy stuff from the trunk, filling the gas tank to full, and making sure tire pressure is correct at all four corners. You can’t align headlights if your car isn’t level. Check the suspension, too.
Do you Have a Plain Wall?
Pull the car as close the wall as possible and turn on your lights. This way, you’ll find the centers of the low-beam headlights. Mark both spots with a single piece of horizontal tape running through the middle. Make the vertical tape marker about two feet long, again running through the center of the low-beams.
Find the Adjusters!
Adjusters are often located somewhere on the headlight housing. Each make and model is different, but generally the adjusters are a type of screw or bolt on the back and side of the headlight unit. While they’re not often marked, they are often gray or silver, which stands out from the black headlight backs.
Time to Back Up!
After you find the adjusters, back up the vehicle until it’s 25 feet from the wall. It’s best you measure this out, so the distance is accurate. Not every vehicle requires a 25-foot distance from the wall. This is a general distance with some manufacturers require different distances. Chrysler says 33 feet while Toyota recommends aligning headlights at 10 feet. Here’s another instance where the owner’s manual comes in handy.
Once backed up, block one headlight and look at where the other beam falls compared to the markings you made on the wall. For vertical aim, the top of the most intense part of the beam should be at or below the center line of horizontal tapeline.
For horizontal aim, the most intense of the beam should be right of the vertical tapeline. Make adjustments as necessary if the aim is off by turning the adjusters a quarter of a turn and looking to see where the new alignment falls.
Now do the same procedure for the other headlight.
YES, YES, YES!! It’s a mouth full and seems like a pain, but empowering yourself to take on this task, you’ll save enough money to go out for some sushi to celebrate!!
If you follow these guidelines, you’ll give yourself the best chance possible to avoid some unwelcome surprises on your next road trip.