How To Adjust Headlights – An Essential Guide To Adjusting Headlights

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Your vehicle’s headlights are one of the most important parts of road safety because they allow you to see the trail better in low light and nighttime. Therefore, the headlights must be appropriately adjusted to ensure that they are providing optimal performance. Headlights that are improperly aligned can jeopardize your safety and can blind oncoming drivers, as well as compromise visibility.

It might be necessary to need to adjust your headlight alignment if:

  • You have replaced your old headlights recently
  • After the vehicle was in a collision
  • You will carry additional weight

You must check the alignment of your light before driving your car at night time to ensure that they are aimed correctly. If things don’t seem right, you can readjust your headlights through a simple process that requires a few tools that you may already own.

Required Tools and Materials Required to Adjust Headlights

So, how to adjust headlights? For aligning your vehicle’s headlights, you will need a screwdriver or ratchet that will work with the headlight adjusters of your vehicle. Generally, different vehicles have headlight adjusters located in different locations. To find out where they are placed in your car, you can check in the owner’s manual of your car or somewhere adjacent to or behind the headlights.

To know the exact type of screwdriver you would need, you can look at the kind of screws your vehicle has.

Adjusting car headlights you’ll also need:

  • Over 25 feet of space
  • Measuring tape
  • Painter’s tape
  • A flat surface
  • A piece of cardboard for blocking light
  • A dry-erase marker
adjusting headlights

Steps for Adjusting Headlights

To ensure that your headlights are correctly aligned, the vehicle needs to be on flat level ground. Aiming headlights can be done either inside or outside with the help of our systematic guide on how to adjust headlights:

Get Your Vehicle Ready

To prepare your vehicle for headlight alignment, fill your tires to the appropriate air pressure and make sure there is a half tank of gas because the weight of the fuel affects the vehicle’s stance. Additionally, if you use your car to carry heavy equipment regularly, then it will be best if you have them in the vehicle at the time of the headlight adjustment.

Figure Out The Headlight Axis

Using the dry erase marker, draw a dot in the center of each headlight. The dot will signify the headlight axis. Remember to mark the regular headlights and not the high beams.

Parking Your Vehicle

After identifying the headlight axis, park your car right in front of a flat surface such as a level wall. Also, ensure that you should have at least 25 feet of backing space in a straight line from the parking spot.

Settle The Suspension

You can jounce and settle the suspension by bouncing the vehicle a few times on all four corners.

Determine A Center Guide

With a piece of painter’s tape, mark the wall in line with the center of your vehicle, you can use the license plate or hood ornament as a guide. The measurement doesn’t have to be exact.

Marking The Headlight Axis On The Flat Surface

adjusting headlight axis

Using the painter’s tape again mark the wall in front of each headlight axis with a vertical strip. Make sure that the axis dots on the headlights line up with the center of each tape.

Find Out The Headlight Axis’s Height

Using the axis dot as your guide, measure the height of the axis from the ground with the measuring tape.

Mark The Height Of The Axis On The Flat Surface

Use the measuring tape to measure up the flat surface to mark the height of the headlight axis on the tape placed.

Find The Headlight Cutoff Lines

Find The Headlight Cutoff Lines

You will find the headlight cutoff lines on the driver’s side about 4 inches below the headlight axis. For the passenger’s side, it is recommended to drone a line 2 inches below the headlight axis. The passenger’s side is usually lower to reduce the glare seen by oncoming drivers.

Mark The Headlight Cutoff lines

After you have found the headlight cutoff lines place a horizontal strip of painter’s tape above each cutoff line on the same level. If the bottom of the painter’s tape will not line up with the drawn cutoff line, you may find it challenging to see the cutoff from a distance.

Back-Up Your Vehicle And Turn On The Headlights 

Since you have not completed all the necessary steps for checking and marking the alignment of your vehicle’s headlights, you are not ready to adjust them.

Back up your car (about 25 feet away from the wall in a straight line) and turn on the headlights. It is also essential to turn off your garage lights and all the other light sources. We recommend you to perform this task at night if you are doing it outside.

Time To Adjust Your Headlights

It is essential first to find the adjustment screws. In most headlights, it is vital to remove the trim ring from the headlight. The adjustment screws are usually located n the top and side of the light housing. However, if you cannot find the adjustment screws, you should refer to the user manual of your vehicle.

It is a smarter idea to individually adjust your vehicle’s headlights; this will allow you to conveniently adjust the vertical and horizontal field of both the headlights of your car to the correct level. We recommend you to check the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure that you are explicitly following the mentioned instruction, and you are not causing more harm than good.

Test The Adjustments

test headlight adjustments

The last, but the most crucial step is to ensure that your vehicle’s headlights are providing proper visibility after adjustment. Go for a test drive to ensure that your headlights are correctly adjusted.


Adjusting your vehicle’s headlights should be your top priority because unadjusted headlights can not only compromise your road safety, but you can put other drivers at high risk as well. So, if you were wondering how to adjust headlights, then don’t worry! Follow our simple steps and align your vehicle’s headlights at home.

However, make sure that you check your vehicle’s user manual before starting the adjustment procedure as different cars have different measurements that are important to take into consideration before you adjust the headlights of your vehicle with the help of this tutorial/post.

Any further queries about how to adjust headlights? Please share them with us in the comments section below.

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Richard Nickleson is the author and owner behind Headlight Reviews. He first started the site as a hobby to share his insights on car parts and specifically headlight bulbs, but it soon ballooned and now he writes on all topics surrounding headlights bulbs. If you've got a bulb question, contact Richard here.

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