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How to Adjust Headlights

by Contributor

Although mechanics use a highly accurate headlamp adjuster to ensure that both headlights are pointing in exactly the right direction, in a pinch a screwdriver will fix misdirected beams enough so you can safely drive in the dark.

Park your car on level ground with the headlights about 10 to 15 feet (3 to 4.5 m) from a wall or garage door.

Find the adjusting screws for the headlights. They will probably be inset adjacent to the headlight. You'll find a horizontal and a vertical adjusting screw, with small springs behind them. Some cars come equipped with a small level (like a carpenter's level) attached to the top of the headlight under the hood to help you get the correct adjustment.

Turn the headlights on.


Notice where the light shines, using the wall or garage door as your gauge. Check for uneven or cross-eyed light beams.

Turn the adjusting screws with a Phillips screwdriver while looking at the wall. Turn slowly and continue to check the wall (see illustration) until the light beams are even and tilted slightly downward (so your car's headlights won't blind oncoming traffic).

Test-drive in the dark and repeat steps 1 through 5 as necessary.


  • Turn the adjusting screws slowly and review the beam's location frequently to avoid adjusting the headlights in the wrong direction.

Items you will need

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