Informational Guide

How To Adjust Headlights

This guide discusses how to adjust headlights on your vehicle to ensure you have the maximum visibility you need.

Your automotive headlights are meant to provide maximum visibility, but it’s hard to see clearly when the beam is out of alignment. Instead of visiting your mechanic, we can help you resolve the situation on your own. We will review how to adjust headlights on your vehicle to ensure you have the visibility you need.

Why Headlights Need to Be Adjusted

For the most part, your headlights are designed to provide the best beam possible for your vehicle, but some instances can throw the light out of alignment. If you have an excessive amount of weight in the cargo area of your vehicle, it could be lifting the front of the vehicle, thereby causing the headlights to be improperly aligned.

You might also be dealing with bad shocks, which can tilt the car angle. Finally, a car accident can cause damage to the front of your vehicle, which requires that you readjust the headlights. While you should always resolve the issues causing the problems, it’s also good to know how to adjust car headlights.

white car headlight

How to Adjust a Cars Headlights

Checking Alignment of the Lights

  1. 1
    Prepare & Park the Car – Find a level surface to park on, 10 to 15 feet away from a wall or garage door.
  2. 2
    Level the Car – Remove unneeded cargo and check tire pressures.
  3. 3
    Measure the lights
  4. 4
    Turn on headlights
  5. 5
    Measure the lines – Mark the vertical and horizontal center lines of the beam with masking tape on the wall to make a T that can be measured.
  6. 6
    Backup the Car – Most manufacturers recommend 25 feet, but you want to check your owner’s manual to be sure.

Adjusting the Lights

  1. 1
    Find the adjustment screws
  2. 2
    Adjust the headlights individually
  3. 3
    Adjust the vertical field – The screw at the top of the headlight is for vertical adjustments.
  4. 4
    Adjust the horizontal field – The screw on the side of the headlight is for horizontal adjustments.
  5. 5
    Check manufacturer guidelines
  6. 6
    Test your results – You want the brightest part of your beam to be at the center of your T. Test drive the car to see if you successfully learned how to adjust your headlights

Common Headlight Issues

cloudy headlight
  • Adjusting LED headlights 
    Learning how to adjust LED headlights could be different than the process of how to adjust projector headlights. Read the owner’s manual for vehicle-specific information.
  • Adjusting headlight height 
    As you learn how to properly adjust headlights vertically and how to adjust headlight height, you want to use the screw found at the top of the assembly.
  • Adjusting Ford Focus headlights
    Learning how to adjust Ford Focus headlights will require a Torx tool or Allen wrench to turn the screws properly.
  • Adjusting Harley headlight 
    When you are ready to learn how to adjust a Harley headlight, keep in mind that motorcycle headlights are different than a typical car. Refer to the owner’s manual for more guidance.
  • Adjusting headlights GMC Sierra 
    It isn’t any different to learn how to adjust headlights on GMC Sierra trucks than your typical vehicle, other than you might need a step ladder if the pickup is lifted.
  • Adjusting headlights on a truck 
    Learning how to adjust headlights on a truck requires the same procedures outlined above.
  • Adjusting Subaru headlights 
    You don’t need any special skills to figure out how to adjust Subaru headlights.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

How high should your headlights be aimed?

Light beams should measure relatively the same, both wide and high. Keep that in mind as you adjust them.

Where are the headlight adjustment screws?

The majority of headlight adjustment screws are found at the top and side of the housing, but some manufacturers use adjustment screws behind the headlight instead.

What tool do you use to adjust headlights?

Most aftermarket headlights require the use of an Allen wrench for adjustment.

How far should your headlights shine while on low beam?

The low-beam headlights only let you see about 200 feet in front of the vehicle.

How far should your high beams shine?

High-beam headlights are meant to provide between 350 and 400 feet of visibility in front of the car.

Should LED headlights be vertical or horizontal?

The LED headlight bulb orientation depends on the vehicle you own. You may need a side-to-side orientation for the best beam

How do I know what kind of headlights I have?

HID headlights are very different from LED and the other types on the market. If you have halogen headlight bulbs, you might notice a warm, yellow hue. The Xenon or HID bulbs often create a cool, blue tint, while LED bulbs tend to be bright white in most cars. If you are unsure, you can pull the bulb out to see what’s installed.

How much does a headlight adjustment cost at a mechanic?

If you want the best car headlights for nighttime driving adjusted by a mechanic, you might spend around $40 or $50, depending on the hourly rate.


It doesn’t take a lot of effort to adjust headlights in your vehicle, and you can save some money by doing it yourself. Follow our steps to achieve optimal visibility during your next drive.