How to Adjust the Angle of Headlights

by Mary Lougee
car headlights image by Kho Guan Ann from

The angle of illumination on the road from headlights is important to adjust so that the light is close enough to the car on low beams, but far enough away when on high beams for good visibility. Headlights are important for driver safety at nigh, especially on dark country roads or in neighborhoods with less-than-sufficient streetlights. Headlights that shine correctly serve a dual purpose, keeping both the driver and the drivers of other vehicles safe.

Step 1

Drive the vehicle to an area with a flat wall like a garage or the side of a house or building on level ground. Place the car in park about two feet away from the wall.

Step 2

Make a "T" on the wall with masking tape to mark the center of the left headlight horizontally and vertically. Mark the right headlight on the wall in the same manner.

Step 3

Move the car back from the wall 15 to 25 feet. Place the car in park and locate the adjusting screw on each headlight. They are small Phillips screws that are inset in the metal frame surrounding the headlight.

Step 4

Turn on the low-beam headlights. Turn the top adjustment screw on the headlights clockwise to raise the beam and counterclockwise to lower the beam. Adjust the headlights so the beam height is two to four inches below the horizontal cross of masking tape.

Turn the side adjustment screw to adjust the center of each headlight from side to side. Turn the Phillips screw on the side of the headlight to the right to move the beam to the right and to the left to move the beam to the left. Center the beam on the vertical tape on the wall.


  • Adjusting headlights on the low-beam setting will automatically adjust the high-beam setting also.
  • Use small incremental turns of the screws to adjust headlights.
  • Adjusting headlight beams two to four inches below the center of the masking tape line keeps the illumination from shining directly into the eyes of oncoming drivers. This method keeps the vehicle from blinding other drivers.


  • Masking tape will not leave marks on the wall surface used to adjust headlights as duct tape will.

Items you will need

  • Small Phillips screwdriver
  • Masking tape

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