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How Car Stuff Works

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How to Align Your Cars Headlights

Driving along one evening it comes to your attention that other drivers are consistently flashing their headlights at you. You don’t know them and you haven't seen any signs of a speed trap. The other drivers may be trying to let you know your headlights are out of alignment.

Every driver knows from experience that being blinded by another car’s headlights is not only annoying but also dangerous since it results in vision being impaired. Straightening the headlamps out may be a little time consuming, but it is worth the effort.

Most makes and models come equipped with headlight adjusters. Sometimes these adjusters are for vertical aim only. In this situation if the problem is horizontal the job will become a try and check the aim practice in patience. Horizontal imbalances are usually caused by a faulty alignment in the headlight housing of the front end. The only recourse left to you is to adjust the housing, check the alignment, and repeat until the level is acceptable.

Whether trying to adjust headlights vertically or horizontally or both, a bubble level will be your best friend. Here is a quick run down on how to get Betsy’s eyeballs straight. Be sure to park the car on a flat, level surface. If possible have the car face a blank wall, neutral colors like white or gray work best. Avoid any internal light shining on the car.

Another useful tip before you begin the headlight alignment is to make sure the tire pressure is correct. If the tires have too little pressure it will throw off the level of the lights. Once the tires have proper air pressure, the bubble level becomes invaluable. A tape measure will make the process go more smoothly as well. Place the car exactly 25 feet away from the wall you are using to check the lights.

Find the center of each headlight and mark with a piece of tape. Turn the lights on and look at the wall to determine how far off center the lights are pointing. After turning the lights back off make the appropriate adjustments and check again. Repetition is the name of the game here.

This method will work for straightening the lights both vertically and horizontally. Other steps that may make for a more perfect alignment are to use tape to accurately mark the center of the windshield and tape the reference wall to mark where the lights should be hitting.

Getting your headlights in proper alignment may not be a fun job, but other drivers will thank you and your car won’t have that cross eyed look.

If you happen to be the lucky owner of an Acura or a Honda headlight life will be much easier. These models have a built in bubble level in the headlight housing. That feature makes it much easier to determine the unwanted tilt of the light. Correcting the problem is faster and more efficient.

So when the annoying flashes from other drivers begins, call up your buddies, straighten out the headlights, and be sure to have pizza and beer on hand to thank your assistants.







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