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How To Adjust Car Headlights

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 10/07/2023

Your car headlights allow you to see what lies ahead when driving during low-light conditions. They also play a vital role in preventing collisions and road accidents at night. However, if you often feel that you cannot see beyond a few metres even when your headlights are turned on, it could be a sign that your car light adjustment is off focus.

This could result in serious accidents or collisions, as being unable to see the road clearly can reduce your reaction time when driving, leading to serious injuries to you and the other driver.

Here we will show you how to adjust your car headlight focus and break down the tell-tale signs that point to your headlights not being aimed or aligned correctly. This can help prevent future accidents or collisions caused due to visibility issues.

How to Know if Your Car Headlight Settings Need to be Adjusted?

- The Beam Pattern does not Properly Illuminate the Road: If your headlight beams produce too much light or do not produce enough light and are not illuminating a wide enough area, the throw of your headlight may need to be adjusted.

- The Beam Pattern Causes Glares to Other Drivers: If other drivers frequently flash their headlights at you, they are trying to tell you that your headlights are shining into the drivers’ eyes. In this case, the aim or intensity of your headlights may need to be adjusted.

For example, if all you see are the night sky or the tops of trees, then your headlights are too high. If you can’t see more than a couple of metres ahead of you, your headlights are too low. You must adjust your beam height and pattern to rectify this.

- The Headlights are Misaligned: If the light beams are not parallel, or if one of the light beams is higher or lower than the other, the car headlight alignment could be off, and the aim may need to be adjusted.

- Headlights are not Functioning Properly: If you notice that your headlights are either dimmed or not working correctly, the headlight assembly may need to be fixed or adjusted.

Tools Needed for Manual Car Light Adjustment

  • Your car owner’s manual.

  • Screwdriver.

  • Measuring tape.

  • Masking tape.

  • Dark fabric or cardboard to block light.

A flat vertical surface or wall (as a reference point).

How to Adjust Your Car Headlights?

1. Consult Your Car Owner’s Manual:

a. Some vehicles do not allow for headlight adjustments. You must check your car owner’s manual to see if your car allows for such adjustments to show you the location of the adjustment screws if it does.

b. Some cars also have levers to help with car light adjustment, similar to a carpenter’s level. Again, your car owner’s manual will provide you with a detailed description of the type and location of the adjustment screws or levers.

2. Park Your Car:

a. You must park your car on level ground, with the hand brake on, so you can shine your lights onto a wall or flat vertical surface.

b. Make sure your car tires are inflated properly, and the fuel tank is half full to mimic the usual load your car typically carries.

c. Push down on all four corners to level out of shocks and turn on your car headlights.

3. Create a Centre Axis:

This is best done at dusk or dawn.

a. Park your car about 2 meters away from a wall or vertical surface and turn your headlight on a low beam.

b. Use the masking tape to mark the horizontal and vertical lines of the beam’s centre axis as it shines on the wall.

c. The tape should create a cross.

4. Measure the Difference Between the Two Lights:

a. Take your measuring tape and measure the lines to see if both headlights have the same measurements.

b. If they do not match, note the difference and match the highest centreline mark to the lowest centreline mark.

c. Some vehicles have integrated crosshairs within their headlights to help you with this step. Your car owner’s manual will also have this information.

5. Back Your Car Away From the Wall:

a. The ideal distance will be specified in your car owner’s manual. It is usually around 7- 8 metres or 25 feet.

b. Back your car until it hits the 25-foot mark, turn your headlights on and note where the brightest part of your headlights hit the taped spot on the wall.

6. Prepare for Re-Adjustment:

a. Take off the ring or bezel of your headlight, keeping the parts in a safe location.

b. Then, keeping your screwdriver and a dark cloth on hand, note the location of the horizontal and vertical adjustment screws. Having an assistant inside the car also helps.

7. Adjust the Beam Height:

a. Stand in front of the car and have your assistant turn off the headlights.

b. Put the dark cloth on one of the headlights and turn them on again.

c. Turn the top adjuster screws clockwise to raise the beam height and anticlockwise to lower them.

d. You must adjust the headlight so that the most intense part of your headlight beam hits just below the vertical centreline you taped over the wall.

*8. Adjust the Beam Pattern: *

This refers to the shape and intensity of the light beam projected by your car headlights. These need to be adjusted so that you do not cause unnecessary glare to other drivers on the road.

a. Turn the screws clockwise to adjust the headlights inwards and anticlockwise to turn them outwards. The headlight beam should fall to the right of the centre tapeline.

b. Next, block out the other headlight and make the same horizontal and vertical adjustments.

9. Fine-Tune Your Adjustments:

a. Keep fixing the horizontal and vertical adjustments until they are proper, and take your car out for a test drive to see if your headlights function correctly.

b. If they are not quite up to par, repeat the instructions given above until you achieve the desired outcome.

If at any point you find that you are unsure of how to adjust car headlight settings or if you find that your car model does not have a manual car headlight adjustment switch, it is best to seek help from a professional rather than attempt to fix your headlights on your own.

How Often Should I Check My Car Headlight Settings?

Typically, you are advised to make adjustments every time you change your tyres or service your vehicle. This ensures that your car headlight focus adjustment or alignment always provides optimal visibility.

If you notice that your headlight beam pattern is misaligned or if your headlights are not illuminating the road properly, it may be time to adjust your headlights or even have them replaced if they are not working properly.

Does Motor Insurance Cover Headlight or Taillight Damage?

Insurance for your car may help cover damages caused to your headlights or tail lights under certain conditions, not under your control. For example, comprehensive four-wheeler insurance from our website usually covers damages to your vehicle incurred from instances like road accidents, natural disasters, or damage from theft.

If you find that your headlights have been damaged due to any of those events through no fault of your own, you can raise a claim to your insurer to cover the repair or replacement costs. There are, however, no actual covers that cover specific damage to your car headlights.

It is important to note that damages incurred during any accidents resulting from low visibility conditions caused by improper car light adjustments will be considered negligence on the car owner’s part by the insurance company.

According to our guidelines and most other insurers, motor insurance policies do not cover vehicular repair costs resulting from negligence. Therefore, any claims raised as a result will not be accepted or processed.

Conclusion

Car headlight adjustment is often a simple process that can be done on most car models. You can adjust your car headlight settings manually if you find that your headlights are misaligned or not functioning properly. However, it may be time to seek professional help or expertise if you find that the problem persists even after multiple re-adjustments.

In the same vein, it is also best to stay on top of your car insurance renewals online to ensure that you are covered in case of any accidents or mishaps while on the road. This way, if your car needs any major repairs after the event, you are covered.


Reference links used:

https://www.acko.com/car-guide/how-to-adjust-car-headlights/

https://www.championautoparts.eu/news/how-to-check-headlights.html

https://www.policybachat.com/faq/does-car-insurance-cover-headlights#:~:text=The%20coverage%20will%20depend%20on,cost%20of%20repairs%20or%20replacement.

https://www.wendlefordsales.com/blogs/3550/how-to-adjust-and-align-your-car-headlights-for-perfect-aim/

https://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/a257/how-to-adjust-lights/

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