Information and Tutorials
How to Aim and Align your Headlights
If you’ve replaced your headlights, the vehicle has been in a collision, or you plan on carrying a lot more weight in the vehicle than you normally would, it may be necessary to adjust the aim of your headlights. This process can easily be done on any flat surface with 25 feet of room from a vertical, straight walk.
Back our vehicle up in a straight line, 25 feet to the front of the headlights. It’s important that you make sure all four of your tires are at the appropriate air pressures, your vehicle has about a half a talk of gas in it, and it should also have any loads that the vehicle regularly carries, such as tools, equipment, or any type of supplies that may weigh down any part of the vehicle. Check the marking on your headlight. It could be a DOT VOR, which is a visibly aim-able headlight, as well as DOT VOL, and DOT VO. Also, depending on your vehicle and location, you may have an ECE or E CODE headlamp. All of these are visually aim-able in similar ways to the one that we’re going to show you.
If your vehicle is older and does not have a US DOT marking on it, then it needs to be aimed with a mechanical aiming device that’s pretty hard to come by. So, for your best bet, is to do the best you can, visually aiming it with a board or wall like we’ll show you here.
Double-Check Weights in Vehicle
After you’ve checked all your other things, like your air pressure and the weight in the vehicle, you’ll want to jounce your suspension. Grab a firm part, either the bumper or the radiator support, and rhythmically bounce it up and down a few times and allowing the suspension to settle. This will make sure that it’s at its appropriate ride height and isn’t stuck in an odd position. It’ll just set everything level into the proper ride height.
So, we have a little dot in our lens that you can see there. I just used a dry-erase marker there to show you where it is. You’re going to put a little dot over that. You don’t need to do this, but I feel it makes it a lot easier. Take a tape measure and measure from the ground to the center of that dot on our vehicle.
Adjust The Headlights
The next thing you want to locate is your headlight adjusters. Now, these are going to be in different places on every vehicle, but ours has a toothed wheel down here, with a hex on it, so we can adjust that with either a ratchet or putting a little screwdriver in there and clicking it clockwise or counterclockwise. You may also have horizontal adjustments, but for our vehicle, it’s just these.
With our headlights on, we’ve shut off the lights in our shop. If you are doing this outside, you’ll want to do it at night. This line here, is our headlight cut off. That’s what we’ll be using to adjust from. Above that, is dark and below that, is where the brightest portion of the headlight is.
So, we have our socket and ratchet on the adjuster. We’re going to see which way moves the headlight. You also don’t want to push against the headlight in any way.
Usually clockwise is bringing it up. We’re going to rotate it counterclockwise. Again, we’re using a headlight aiming board, but you can easily do this with a piece of tape, and marking everything off. Adjusting fog lights as well is very similar.