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How to Adjust Your Headlights for Safe Driving at Night

Have you ever been blinded by an oncoming vehicle’s headlights while driving at night? It can be a flustering and potentially unsafe experience. That’s why it’s a good idea to learn how to adjust your headlights to provide the safest driving conditions for you and others on the road.

Headlights are configured to shine at optimum levels so that they:

  • Illuminate roadways and signage
  • Alert drivers to animals and pedestrians on the road
  • Don’t distract other drivers

However, on occasion, headlights can be thrown out of alignment. The most common cause is simply through the vibration of your vehicle over time. Other causes include:

  • Front-end collisions
  • Excess weight in the back of the vehicle
  • Worn shocks

How to Know if You Need to Adjust Your Headlights

You might be wondering how to tell if you need to adjust your headlights. Here are a few indicators:

  • Lights appear off-centre
  • Lights don’t provide adequate road coverage
  • You frequently get high-beamed by other drivers (even though you low beams are on)

Accurate Adjustment is Best

If you notice that one (or both) of your headlights is out of alignment, the best option is to take it to a qualified service garage. Trained technicians know how to aim headlights properly and they have the equipment to do it with a high degree of accuracy.

A Temporary Fix

In the event that your headlights are misaligned, and you’re unable to make it to your local garage, you can perform a basic adjustment yourself. All you’ll need is:

  • Appropriate screwdriver
  • Masking tape
  • Measuring tape

In order to adjust your headlights accurately, you’ll need to perform the steps on level ground facing a wall (a flat driveway with a garage door is ideal).

Step 1: Check with the vehicle owner’s manual to locate the headlight adjusting screws (and the type of screw).

Step 2: Park your vehicle near the garage door (or other wall surface), and with the low beams turned on, use masking tape to mark the horizontal and vertical centrelines of the light pattern on the door.

Step 3: Back your vehicle up 25 feet. Cover one light with a towel or cloth while you perform adjustments on the other. For the vertical adjustment, the top of the main hotspot of your light should line up with, or sit just below, the horizontal tape mark on the door. For the left-right adjustment, the hotspot should be to the right of the vertical tape mark. This will prevent your lights from blinding oncoming drivers.

Step 4: Perform the same steps for your high beams.

Step 5: Take your vehicle for a test drive, and readjust as necessary using the above steps.

In addition to learning how to adjust your headlights, there are other things you can do to promote safe driving in the dark. To learn more about this, read: 6 Tips for Driving at Night.

Are your headlights providing poor road coverage at night? Visit  your local Kal Tire store. Our technicians know how to adjust your headlights quickly and accurately.