How to Adjust Your Headlights

closeup of a car Headlight
  • 1-2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 75-100
What You'll Need
Headlight adjustment adapter
Screwdriver or allen wrench depending on your car
Cleaning rag

Automobile headlights need to cover 2 aspects of lighting for optimum functionality. The first being brightness and the second direction. The only way headlights can increase visibility is when these 2 aspects are set correctly. If you feel that your headlights are not providing the required amount of visibility, read the content below to adjust them properly.

Step 1 – Take Appropriate Precautions

Make sure that your car is parked on a level surface to ensure that the headlight adjustment adapter can be used accurately. For the adjustment process you might have to open the car hood and work on the wiring of the light, in which case make sure that you are wearing gloves and that the car is turned off. With these precautions in mind, move on to adjusting the headlights.

Step 2 – Adjusting the Brightness of Your Automobile Headlights

There isn’t much you can do about the brightness of the headlights except maybe cleaning them properly and aligning them. A faulty or dim headlight needs to be replaced or repaired, but if the problem lies with the cleanliness or wiring then you can easily solve it. Remove the headlights, and use a cleaning rag to remove grime and dust. Replace old or faulty wiring to improve the power input to the headlight, which in turn will improve the brightness of the headlamp. You need to replace the lights though, if they don’t show an increase in brightness.

Step 3 – Prepping for the Headlight Alignment

To successfully complete this step, you need to be familiar with the workings of the headlight adjustment adapter. This tool is basically a type of leveler, which uses a suction cap to stick to the front of the headlight. It is made up of multiple vials of level bubbles, which you use to calibrate the position of the headlight. For calibration, check the corners of the headlight for a printed or embossed inscription stating the vertical and horizontal steps required for proper calibration. Use the dials under the adjustment adapter to enter the coordinates and stick the adapter to the headlight.

Step 4 - Adjusting You Automobile Headlights

The adjustment process depends on the model and make of your car, but usually involves the use of Allen wrenches to operate two screws to change the alignment of the light. The screws can be found either on top of the headlight or at the side. Use the wrench to turn the screw that alters the position of the light in the horizontal plane and then in the vertical plane. Consult the level bubbles and continue turning the screws until the bubble is balanced in the center of the level bubbles. Once you’ve aligned the light properly according to the coordinates given on the headlight, move on to the next step.

Step 5 – Running a Final Check on Your Headlights

With the car parked in front of a wall, turn on the headlights and check to see if the light is directed straight towards the wall. You can also check your handiwork by going for a drive at night. If you don’t observe any change in brightness, you need to get your headlights replaced from a certified automobile parts dealer.