How to Align Car Headlights

Updated February 21, 2017

Headlights are necessary safety features on every vehicle. They light up the road at night and provide drivers with an illuminated view of potential safety hazards in the road. The headlights on your vehicle were properly aligned when it left the factory, although rough roads and accidents can cause the bulbs to shift. Aligning the headlights should be done once a year, or any time you notice the lights not pointing straight down the road.

Wait until dusk and park the vehicle in on level ground approximately 5 feet in front of a wall or garage door and turn on the low beam setting of the headlights.

Mark the centre line of the headlights on the wall with masking tape. Start at the driver's side headlight, and roll a length of tape along the wall to the centre of the beam produced by the passenger's side light.

Place a strip of tape along the vertical centre line of each headlight. This will create a T-shaped mark on the wall that will help you adjust the lights as necessary.

Back the car up 25 feet and look at the alignment of the headlights. At this distance, the beams should shine 2 to 4 inches below the horizontal centre line outlined on the wall. The beams should also point 2 to 4 inches to the right of the vertical centre line. This alignment prevents your headlights from blinding oncoming drivers.

Shine a flashlight into the headlight housing and locate the small adjustment screws near the face of the bulb. Use a small screwdriver to turn the screws either left or right to adjust the headlights up or down as necessary.


Each vehicle has slightly different alignment guidelines, so check your owner's manual for detailed headlight alignment instructions.

Things You'll Need

  • Masking tape
  • Screwdriver
  • Flashlight
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About the Author

Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.