How to Aim and Adjust Headlights

Follow these steps to learn how to aim headlights and adjust your headlights properly.

When your headlights aren't shining in the right direction, you know it. It's tough to see and be seen on the road. Or you're inadvertently blinding other drivers, which isn't very neighborly of you. Headlight alignment can change after an accident, when new lights are installed, and as driving miles accumulate. Checking and aligning headlights only requires a couple tools, so let us show you how to adjust headlights.

Pro Tip: Kill two birds with one stone by changing your headlight bulbs at the same time. Now's the time to do it.


What You'll Need to Adjust Headlights



Good for beginners - A new DIYer will be able to complete the project


Estimated Time Required

1 hour


Step-by-Step Guide for How to Aim and Adjust Headlights

Step 1: Check your vehicle owner's manual for the location of the headlight vertical and horizontal adjusting screws. Note there’s a difference between the adjusting screws and the screws or fasteners that hold the headlights in place.

Step 2: Find a level surface in front of a garage door or wall with 25 ft or more of space. This is so you can back away from the wall in a later step.

Pro Tip: For an easier time, try doing the alignment at dusk or night.

Step 3: Using the measuring tape, measure 25 ft from the wall and use the tape to indicate the 25-ft line. (Colored chalk also works.)

Step 4: Park the vehicle close to the wall and turn the headlights on low beam.

Step 5: You'll make three separate markings with the masking tape:

  • Mark where the low-beams' horizontal centerlines appear on the wall
  • Mark each beam’s vertical centerline on the wall
  • Mark the midline of the vehicle on the wall – it’ll help determine side-to-side alignment later
  • Step 6: Back up in a straight line so that the vehicle’s front is at the previously marked 25-foot line.

    Step 7: Check to see if each headlight’s brightest spot is two inches below and just to the right of the marked horizontal and vertical headlight centerlines. If they’re not, turn the horizontal or vertical adjusting screws or both, as needed, to position them properly.

    And there you go, you should have a good grasp on how to align headlights properly.


    If you're in need of new headlight bulbs, shop for them now or visit your local Advance Auto Parts store.