Signs of misaligned headlights & how to tell if it's aligned properly or not


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Did you know that poorly aimed or aligned car headlights can cause a severe car crash? Check here to learn how to know if car headlights are aimed properly! provides the best car listings from all over Nigeria but then, we also care about the safety of drivers and car owners that buys and uses some of these cars.

It is highly disheartening to continually see more and more reports of car crashes daily from all over the country. It even gets more painful when we discover that some simply overlooked car maintenance points were the most common causes of some of these crashes. This is why we are now dedicated to delivering the best tips and advice for safe driving in Nigeria.

1. Signs of a misaligned car headlight

It might not really seem obvious initially but the alignment/adjustment of your vehicle’s headlights may be totally wrong. So, how can you tell if it is or not?

Some of the most obvious signs of improperly aligned headlamps are;

  • Most oncoming drivers continually flashing their own lights at you. Reason being that your own headlights are directly blinding them. Yes, it doesn’t even matter if your high beams are turned off.
  • You notice the road ahead of you only brightly illuminated for just 20 feet. If you notice this, then it means that your headlights are aimed too low to the normal point.

Some other problems like suspension overload when you have really heavy cargo onboard can also change your car’s ride height and usually shifts one or even both of the headlights in a subtle way. Also, a previous collision, car crash or road hazard might have also left the headlights misaligned slightly.


Many people are unaware that wrongly aimed car headlights can cause severe car crashes especially at night

2. Ways to detech misaligned car headlights

You can try any of the methods below to detect and check if your car’s headlights are aligned properly or not;

  • Method 1:

One common way to easily tell if your vehicle’s headlights are properly aimed is to actually park the car on a levelled surface and then turn on the headlights to shine directly on your garage door or any wall that is like 25 feet ahead (note that this distance varies with vehicle types sometimes).

In an ideal scenario, the top part of the low beam that is shining on the wall is expected to be at or just slightly below the very height of the headlight lens’ centre for most cars.

You should normally expect that the light pattern should be higher on the passenger side (right side) because it is meant to illuminate road signs and the light should be lower on the driver’s side so that it wouldn’t be blinding other drivers on the motorway.

Using this method alone, you can easily detect if the beams coming from both sides of your vehicle’s headlights are correctly aimed or need adjustment.

>>> Have you ever thought of using xenon headlights for your car? Xenon headlight pros and cons: should you go for it?


By simply packing your car and using a wall or your garage door, you can detect a misaligned car headlight

  • Method 2:

Another easy method of checking for any misalignment issues with car headlights is by pulling the vehicle within just 5 feet of a wall and then using masking tape to easily mark the horizontal and vertical centres of the headlight beams on that wall.

Now, move your vehicle backwards to about 25 feet. And with the help of the tape line, you should check to see if the light beams you are getting is still roughly the same in height both horizontally and vertically.

  • Useful Notes:

Almost all vehicles usually have an adjustment bolt or screw on each headlight assembly which you can easily use for adjusting the headlight’s height. Some vehicles will even have a screw for the horizontal aim separately while some car would also have a sort of bubble level to help a driver with the adjustments at any time.

On some cars, you might only have very little space or even no space at all to reach these adjusters without you needing to remove some parts such as the car battery.

Also, in order for you to get really accurate readings, make sure to have the car parked on a truly levelled ground surface. Normally, the ride height of your vehicle should not be really affected by cargo, flat tires or damaged suspension parts, and the car needs to be very much perpendicular to that surface on which you are shining the headlights for the entire testing purpose.

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3. Conclusion

Don’t be surprised that most car owner’s manual provides little to no guidance on this misaligned headlight issue. So, whenever you are in doubt, do not hesitate to seek the help of a professional “rewire” in a nearby auto shop around you. And if you know that your car is still very much covered by the basic “guarantee/warranty” given by your dealer, you can just check with the dealer directly for them to align it for you at zero cost instead.

>>> Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out our other useful car maintenance tips and advice on!

Oluwaseun Solomon




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