How to Adjust the Headlights in Toyota Cars

by Contributing Writer

Adjusting the headlights on a Toyota car is necessary to make sure that you aren't blinding oncoming drivers, but are also able to see the road ahead of you while you are driving at night. The headlights on the Toyota car are two-way adjustable. This means that there is a horizontal as well as a vertical adjustment screw. The two-way adjustment feature provides maximum control over the headlight beam of your Toyota car.

Under The Hood:

 How to Adjust the Headlights in a Toyota Corolla

Remove any excess cargo you don't normally carry in your car. Fill the gas tank and check the pressure in your tires. Once you have your Toyota Corolla in the condition you normally drive it in, you're ready to start adjusting your headlights.

Park the car on a level surface 15 to 25 feet away from a wall or garage door. If you plan to adjust your headlights outside, wait until dark.

Open the hood and locate the headlight aiming wheel near the headlight assembly. The Toyota Corolla doesn't come with a horizontal adjustment.

Measure from the center of the headlight to the floor and mark this measurement with masking tape on the wall. Mark the center point for your car as well.

Turn on the headlights and use a Phillips screwdriver or Torx bit to adjust the aiming wheel. Adjust each headlight individually, keeping an eye on the trajectory path on the wall. The low beams should be within a 2-inch variance of the center mark, and the high beams should be exactly in the center of the mark.

Items you will need

  • Tape measure

  • Masking tape

  • Phillips screwdriver or Torx bit

 How to Adjust the Headlights on a Toyota Celica

Mark the headlight's center lines on a wall. Park the Toyota one foot from a wall. Turn the headlights on and engage the parking brake.

Run a line of masking tape across the wall from the center point of the horizontal light beam on the driver's side to the center point on the passenger's side. Take two small pieces of tape and mark the two vertical centers. The wall should be marked with a horizontal line going from one side to the other and two small vertical lines in front of each headlight, creating small crosses.

Pull the Celica back about 20 feet. Examine where the light hits the wall. If the horizontal or vertical light beam is off center from the taped line, then you know what needs to be aligned.

Locate the centering screws for the driver's side headlight. Pop the hood and look directly behind the light. On the top center you will find a small screw that controls the vertical alignment. Along the side you will find the horizontal control screw. Use a screwdriver to tighten or loosen each screw until the light beam hits the center of the taped cross mark on the wall.

Repeat "Step 4" for the passenger's side light. Close hood.

Items you will need

  • Masking tape

  • Screwdriver

 How to Adjust the Headlights in a Toyota Highlander

Prepare your Toyota Highlander to adjust your headlights. Park the SUV on a level surface 20 to 25 feet away from a wall or garage door. For optimal results, check that the air pressure in the tires matches the level you typically drive at. Empty any extra cargo you don't carry on a daily basis.

Open the hood and locate the headlight adjustment wheel. Toyota places these near the headlight housing. Toyota doesn't include a horizontal adjustment wheel, so if you need to adjust the horizontal trajectory, you either need to repair any damage to the frame or shim the headlight assembly.

Measure from the center of the headlight to the floor and mark this measurement on the wall. You may want to draw a line on the wall equal to the width of the Toyota Highlander to use as a reference point for the proper adjustment.

Make sure the headlights are on. To turn the vertical adjustment wheel, insert a Phillips screwdriver into the gap at the top of the wheel. The screwdriver head engages the teeth on the wheel in the headlight housing.

Keep an eye on the trajectory path as it compares to the measurement on the wall. You want to center the high beams, but the low beams can have up to a 2-inch variance from the center mark.

Items you will need

  • Tape measure

  • Masking tape or writing utensil

  • Phillips screwdriver

 How to Adjust the Headlights in a Toyota Tundra

Use a wall and a level surface to find the correct alignment for your Toyota Tundra headlights. Replicate your normal driving conditions like the amount of cargo weight, the fuel level and the tire pressure. Park the truck 25 feet away from the wall and gently rock the truck to settle the suspension.

Find the measurement from the center of the headlight to the ground and transfer the mark to the wall using masking tape or a writing utensil. The mark needs to be visible from the truck.

Open the hood of the truck and turn your headlights on. Toyota locates the adjustments screws on the headlight housing. You will only be able to adjust the vertical trajectory as there isn't a horizontal adjustment screw in the Toyota Tundra.

Insert a number 2 Phillips screwdriver into the hole in front of the mounting screw on the headlight assembly. You adjust each headlight individually. Use the mark as a reference point for your headlights. You want the low beam to be within two-inches of the mark, which centers the high beam directly on the mark.

Items you will need

  • Measuring tape

  • Masking tape or writing utensil

  • Number 2 Phillips screwdriver

 How to Adjust the Headlights on a Toyota Tacoma

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.

Tip

  • 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.

Tip

    • 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.

Tip

  • 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.



 How to Adjust Headlights on a Toyota Cruiser

Park the Cruiser facing a wall or other flat wall/object, about 15 feet away from the wall.

With the masking tape, make a "+" on the wall or flat surface that corresponds with the center-most point on the headlight housing. You may need to use measuring tape to find the center to the housing and to mark the correct position on the wall for the masking tape.

Turn the headlights on.

Use the horizontal screw located on the inside edge of the housing (toward the center of the Cruiser) and the vertical adjustment screw located on the top of the headlight housing to adjust the headlight beam until the beam is centered on the "+" on the wall.

Items you will need

  • Screwdriver

  • Masking tape

  • Measuring tape