Headlight Adjustment

headlights
nissan
versa

#1

I recently had to downsize to a Nissan Versa from a Ford Aerostar, and I really like my car, but one major difference is how much more headlight glare I deal with. I do use the switch on the rearview mirror, but that doesn’t help with the side mirrors. Knowing how bothered I am by the bright lights, I want to make sure I’m not doing that to other people. Is there a quick way that drivers can check to make sure their lights are adjusted properly and not blinding other drivers?


#2

You’re now in a little short car.

Their headlights are the same as always and now it’s your relative positioning that accentuates the light you see from down in that little car.


#3

Find a flat surface with a wall on it. A garage door might work, as would a parking lot next to a building. Pull to within 5 feet of the wall and perpendicular to it. Turn the lights on and measure the height at the center of the beam. also measure how far off the the left or right the beam is. At a distance of 5 feet, it should be easy to estimate where the beam should hit the wall if it comes straight out of the headlight. A repair book like Haynes for the Versa should have specs for aiming the headlights. Your owner’s manual may have them, too.


#4

5 feet sounds too close to me; 30 feet would be more like it. An error in angle will be more prominent at 30 feet. You should still be able to see the hotspots from each headlight at 30 or so feet.

First find your adjustment screws in the daytime.


#5

The others have addressed your main question, but as someone who drives a small car, I recommend you always try to avoid looking straight at the lights. It’s hard to avoid the temptation, but if you have to look in the direction of bright lights, look just slightly to one side or the other. Also, you can add a translucent sun screen to the rear window. Between that and adjusting the mirror, you should be able to avoid too much glare.


#6

I believe they’re talking about the side mirrors, not rear view mirror.
I remember one or two cars that had auto dimming on the driver’s side mirror, but can’t recall which one(s).


#7

I was thinking about setting height at a close distance. You make a good point about angle. I did my Regal at about 10-feet, but I was setting side-to-side angle.


#8

You can adjust the side mirrors so you don’t get blinded by passing cars. You just have to turn your head a little to see the same area you could normally see without turning your head. I turn mine slightly down, so dropping my head a little allows me to use them when I want to.


#9

You can find a shop with a headlight alignment tool and have it done by the book if you choose to go that route.
The statutes vary by state but in OK for instance the center of the beam is supposed to drop 1" per 25 feet and offset to the right by 1" per 25 feet.

One car dealer I worked for had all PDIs (Pre-Delivery Inspections) performed by the regular mechanics. Every car (multi-line dealer) we performed a PDI on received a headlight adjustment as the final step in the process and believe it or not, a rough estimate was that about half or more needed it.


#10

Most dealerships and many body shops have a wall chart designed to aim headlights properly…The old sealed beam headlights could be aimed mechanically, they had built-in aiming pads. Todays plastic buckets, every car model different, require a wall chart…

Your concern for other drivers is charming…Many drivers today install high wattage illegal bulbs and could not care less if they blind you…


#11

“about half or more needed it”

Besides knocking the Corvair Ralph Nader’s ‘Unsafe at Any Speed’ complained about cars coming out of the factory with wildly mis-aimed headlights.