If you have ever driven at night, then you will understand the importance of car headlights. More so, you will appreciate a well-aligned car headlight if you’ve nearly been blinded by a bright blinding headlight. While headlights are a vital part of every car, they are of no use if they discomfort other motorists on the road – an action that could lead to serious accidents if care isn’t taken. Headlights can be easily aligned and here is how to know if your headlights are aimed properly.
However, their adjustment screws can wear out over time or break from accidents – making it difficult to align and properly aim your headlights. The fix is simple, although dealing with a broken screw is easier if you have at least a moderate amount of experience working on cars. But in this article you will learn how to replace a headlight adjustment screw like a professional.
Replacing your headlight adjustment screw for better headlight aim
- Tape measure
- Purchase replacement screws
The first step to replacing your car headlight’s adjustment screws is to purchase the exact match that fits the make and model of your car. You also have a better chance of finding them if you know the year your car was manufactured or better still, if the problem is a worn out or broken screw, you can just take those screws to your mechanic and they will give you a compatible replacement that fits your vehicle.
You can either purchase your adjustment screws online or you can order from your local auto parts stores. Whichever method you choose, note that each of your headlights has a pair of adjustment screws that come with plastic casing used to secure them to the headlights. So, you are planning on replacing all of them, you will need to buy four.
- Locate the broken or worn-out adjustment screws
With your car parked in your garage or in front of a wall, open the hood and locate the headlight adjustment screws. While the position of the screws varies according to the make of your car, you are most likely to find one screw on top of the headlight and another by the side of the headlight housing.
The screws are made of silver and are different from the black backing on the headlights housing. Should you be unable to locate or access the screws, check your vehicle’s owner manual for further information. However, some car manufacturers make it a little more difficult, such as by having you reach underneath the car to get at the screws.
- Remove the bolts above the headlight with a socket wrench
After locating your adjustment screws, the next thing you want to do is remove the bolts. The bolts are on the car’s frame, right above the grill. Using your socket wrench, secure the bolts and rotate anti-clockwise till the bolts come off. Once they are off, be careful not to pull the headlight too far because the electrical wiring will still be connected.
Once disconnected, set the headlight on a clean, soft towel for protection while changing out the adjustment screws. You can go the extra mile of cleaning your headlights if you feel they are oxidized with a headlight restoration wipe.
- Disconnect the electrical wire and detach the clips.
As soon as you successfully remove the bolts, you will notice a big plug attached to the back of your headlight housing. Gently detach the clips holding the plugs and pull the plug wire back to detach it from the headlight housing.
Then, pull out the bulb by twisting the ring you will find near the center of each headlight. Ensure you take a picture of the wiring and bolts before taking them apart. It will be helpful when you’re trying to put them back together later.
- Remove the broken or worn out adjustment screw
Adjustment screws come with a plastic cap that holds them to the headlight. They are usually colored white. In some cars, you can simply remove them without taking the headlight housing apart while in others, you might have to dismantle the headlight housing.
To remove the screws unsung a Phillips screwdriver, slot in the screwdriver to secure the old nuts and turn anti-clockwise as much as you can. While you have the adjustment screw exposed, consider coating it with a spray-on silicone lubricant like WD-40.
The lubricant makes them a little more damage-resistant and should there be a need for restoring your headlight lens, use the WD-40 lubricant to clean your headlight lens. Install the new screws along with the plastic shields that come with it. Tighten the screws by turning them clockwise before reinstalling the headlights on your car.
- Reassemble and realign your headlights
Finally, after reinstalling the new headlight adjustment screws, the next step is to reassemble the headlight and any parts you removed from it. Remember I recommended you take pictures before taking any part apart? Well, this is the part you need those pictures.
Put back all the parts exactly where you found them and when you’re ready to reattach the cover, heat it up gently to soften the glue. Then, fix it in place and wait up to an hour for it to harden again. When that’s completed, push the headlight back into your car, reattach the electrical cords, and bolt it to the frame.
Another thing you want to do immediately is to re-align your headlight so it doesn’t blind other oncoming vehicles.