How to Aim Sealed Beam Headlights

Lead Image
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 2-10
What You'll Need
Masking tape
Tape measure

It’s important to properly aim sealed beam headlights. As with all headlights, having them aimed correctly means safer driving. The road ahead will be properly illuminated and the sealed beam headlights won’t be shining in the eyes of an oncoming driver. It’s a simple procedure. Every time you replace sealed beam headlights, you should check the aim on them.

Step 1 - Set Up

The time to adjust the aim on your sealed beam headlights is at dusk. If you do it then you’ll be able to see the headlights but it will still be light enough for you to work easily.

Park on the driveway, or on a street with a wall at the end of it. Initially you’ll want to be close to the garage door (or wall) but there should be enough room for you to back up by 25 feet.

Step 2 - Marking

When parked close to the garage door or wall you can begin to adjust the sealed beam headlights. Take your yardstick and extend it from the center of the hood to the door. Use a piece of masking tape on the door to mark this vertical center spot.

To create reference marks for adjustments, begin by measuring the distance from the ground to the center of one of the headlights. Mark the wall at a level 2 inches lower than that height and run a piece of masking tape at that level across the door so it’s as wide as your vehicle.

Now measure the distance from the center of the grille to the center of one of the headlights on low beam. Mark the distance from the center strip on the door with a small vertical strip of tape. Do the same for the headlight on the other side.

Step 3 - Vertical Adjustment

Measure and mark a distance of 25 feet from the door and back the car up this far, being sure the surface is flat. Have the sealed beam headlights on low beam. The left headlight’s glow should be lower than that on the passenger side. The line at the top of the glow is the cutoff.

Unscrew the trim from the sealed beam headlights. This will give to access to the retainer. The screws on this are what you’ll use for the adjustments. The vertical adjustment screw is at the top center. Move it so that the cutoff of both lights is level with the tape line on the door.

Step 4 - Horizontal Adjustment

Move the other set screw, on the outside of the sealed beam headlights, so that the slope that comes up from the cutoff lines up with the vertical marks you have on the door.

Step 5 - Four Lights

If you have 4 sealed beam headlights, you’ll need to adjust the others for high beam. Don’t move the car, but do switch on your brights. Change the set screw so the glow is under the horizontal line of tape on the door.