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Driving at night can be difficult, but it becomes even more challenging when your car headlights are not correctly adjusted. Your headlights are an essential car safety feature because they illuminate the road and make it easier to see what lies ahead. Unfortunately, having poorly aimed headlights can be a hazard to you and other drivers on the road. Don’t worry, though; adjusting this piece of car equipment is something you can do yourself with a few tools and some simple steps.

What will I need to adjust my headlights?

A mechanic performing maintenance on a set of headlights at a Porsche shop in Stuttgart, Germany
Installing Porsche headlights | Hannelore Foerster/Bloomberg via Getty Images

You will only need a few materials to adjust your headlights. In fact, you may have most of what you need in your garage:

  • A measuring tape
  • A roll of duct tape
  • A Phillips-head screwdriver (or any other tool for adjusting)
  • A light-colored garage door or wall
  • Someone to sit in the driver’s seat to help

How to adjust your car’s headlights

To adjust your headlights, drive your car as close as possible to a wall or garage door. Observe the light patterns that each low beam projects on the wall. From there, mark each light pattern’s center, vertically and horizontally, using tape. You should now have two crosses on the wall, keeping the center of each low-beam light pattern. These steps will help you adjust your headlights accurately and ensure they are appropriately aligned.

Then, you will want to use a tape measure to measure 25 feet away from the door or wall. Be sure to mark this point with a piece of tape measuring the same width as your car.

To adjust the headlights, have your helper sit in the driver’s seat. Next, raise the hood and locate the adjustment mechanisms. Usually, there are two screws close to each light fixture, one for vertical adjustment and one for horizontal adjustment. To adjust one, block the light from the other using a towel or coat. Using a Phillips screwdriver, adjust each headlight so that the center of the low beam hits the cross you marked on the wall.

What if I drive a Honda or Acura?

If you drive a Honda or Acura, you may notice something different about your headlights. With these models, you must make vertical adjustments using a bubble level. According to RepairPal, “Some vehicles, including most Hondas and Acuras, have bubble levels built into each of their headlight housings. Vertical adjustment bubble levels are common in these cars, while many also have a similar system for horizontal adjustment.” Remember, you should always consult your owner’s manual for the appropriate instruction regarding specific models.

Easily adjust your headlights to ensure safe driving

Adjusting your car’s headlights is a simple and necessary maintenance task to keep you and other road users safe while driving at night. If you encounter any difficulties or concerns, always consult your car manual, and seek professional assistance. Remember, a well-aligned headlight means better visibility and a better driving experience.

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