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How to Adjust the Headlights on a Toyota Tacoma

by Robert Moore

When you are driving after the sun goes down, the last thing you want is for your headlights to blind oncoming traffic -- or signal aliens from another galaxy. Sure, you might not mind a visit from your interstellar counterpart, but at least have a little courtesy for your fellow driver and adjust your headlight beams. Your Tacoma -- regardless of model year -- has a set of adjusters on each headlight assembly to help you extend that courtesy.

Finding the Right Location

The hardest part of adjusting the headlights on your Tacoma is setting everything up first so that you can properly adjust them. To start, find a level parking area that has a building or wall that you’ll be able to access. You need to be able to park 25 feet away from the wall and have an uninterrupted line of sight to the wall.

Warnings

In the following steps, you will mark the wall with chalk. Make sure you have the property owner’s permission to temporarily mark the wall before proceeding.

Setup and Adjustments

Items you will need

  • Tape measure

  • Sidewalk chalk

  • Phillips screwdriver

  • 4mm socket

  • 1/4-inch-drive ratchet

Take measurements.

Pull up to the wall and straighten out your front tires. Take a look at your headlight lenses and find the aiming nipple that is directly in front of the headlight bulbs. Measure the distance between the ground and the center of that nipple. Measure the distance between the center aiming nipple on the left and right headlights.

Mark the wall.

Make two 2-inch round circles on the wall that correspond to the exact position of the center aiming nipples on the wall. Use the measurements you took in the previous step to ensure the marks are the same height and distance apart as the center marks on the headlight lenses. Draw a 7.94-inch horizontal and vertical line through the circles so that they intersect at the center of the circles. Box in the cross you just drew to create four 3.97-by-3.97-inch cubes around each circle.

Move back 25 feet.

Measure 25 feet from the wall and mark the concrete. Back up, while keeping the wheels straight, until the tip of your Tacoma’s front bumper is right at the mark you made on the concrete -- now you can start making your adjustments.

Find the adjusters.

Identify the adjustment screws or gears on the back of the headlight assemblies. If you are looking directly at the back of the headlight assembly, the vertical adjustment screw is at 8 o'clock position on the driver-side headlight and 4 o'clock position on the passenger headlight. The Horizontal adjustment screw is at 11 o'clock on the driver-side headlight and 1 o'clock on the passenger headlight.

Tips

  • Some Tacomas have a 4mm bolt for the horizontal and vertical adjustment screws, while others have a small gear that you turn with a Phillips screwdriver. 
  • The screws may be covered with small rubber caps. Simply pull the caps off to expose the gear or 4mm screw head.

Adjust one of the headlights

Disconnect the wiring harness from one of the headlights, then turn on the headlights. Turn the vertical adjustment screw counterclockwise to move the headlight beam down, or clockwise to raise the beam. The very top of the headlight beam should be within the four corresponding squares you drew on the wall. Once you’ve set the height, turn the horizontal screw clockwise to move the headlight beam inward or counterclockwise to move the beam outward.

Warnings

The final turn of each adjuster must be in the clockwise direction to lock in the adjustment.

Adjust the other headlight

Turn off the headlights. Disconnect the wiring harness from the headlight you just adjusted and reconnect the wiring harness to the other headlight. Repeat the adjustment procedure. Shut off the headlights, then connect the wiring harness. Replace any rubber covers that may have been on the adjustment screws.



Items you will need

About the Author

Robert Moore started writing professionally in 2002. His career started has head writer and Web designer for VFW post 1224 in Hamburg, Michigan. He has prepared business plans, proposals and grant requests. Moore is a state of Michigan-certified mechanic and is pursuing an Associate of Arts in automotive technology from Lansing Community College.

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