No matter what kind of headlights you have, projector or reflector, car or truck, if you replace your original halogen headlight with an LED, chances are you're blinding everybody else on the road and you still can't see as good as you wish you could.
In this blog we're going to talk about how to aim your headlights with LED headlight and why some work better than others.
I'm not saying I don't like LED headlight, I'm saying most of them don't work right. But what you need to know is that, for an LED headlight to work correctly in your vehicle, you need a certain type of design you got to have a certain type of LED chip and a certain type of width and placement inside the headlight, it also needs to be adjusted to the right spot. There's a lot of things that go into which LED headlight gonna work for your vehicle, they are not one-size-fits-all.
What do bad pattern and good beam pattern look like
If you replace your halogen bulb with the type that makes a weird beam pattern, you're never gonna be able to aim your headlights.
So first, let me show you what a bad beam pattern looks like and why it will never actually work regardless of how much you aim it.
You see in this example, now the beam pattern is blown all out of proportion look at how tall it is and look at where the top of the beam is. If you take the brightest portion of this beam pattern and put it where you need it on the road look how high up it goes, it blinds everybody else. That's why lights that make this kind of beam pattern don't work.
Imagine this is your vehicle driving on any road with your original halogen headlights, you can see that there's a distinct cutoff line and near the center at the top of the beam you have the brightest portion that's what we call the hot spot. The headlights are designed to have the hot spot near the top of the beam, so that the beam can be aimed underneath oncoming drivers point of view.
Now let's take the halogen lights out and put in an LED lights that works really. With this headlight, you can see that the beam pattern is real similar to the original halogen and that's really important, we've got the same cutoff line.
We've got the same hot spot near the top center, you can actually adjust it correctly so that it's giving you maximum brightness without blinding the eyes of the other drivers on the road.
Every day People complains about how blinding and bright LED headlights are, and then other people chiming in saying: as long as you have them aimed correctly, it's fine. And the reality is, that's only half the story, you still have to get the right lights to begin with.
How to Aim Your Headlights?
So, let's talk about what it actually takes to aim your headlights after you've chosen the correct headlight. Two things you're gonna be finding on your headlight itself.
First thing you're gonna do is pull your vehicle up to the wall about 3 feet away, so you've got some space between your front bumper and the wall itself. You're gonna want to make sure that if one person is normally driving your vehicle, you want to have somebody sitting in the driver's seat while you're doing the aiming.
If you normally have a vehicle with a lot of construction equipment or other types of equipment or anything that might weigh down the vehicle, you're going to want to simulate that for this also.
The last thing you want to do is change the weight of what you're carrying in your vehicle and then aim your headlights. You're going to want to make sure you've got about half a tank of gas to get to that average level and you're gonna want to make sure that your tires are aired up correctly. Any of these things can throw off the alignment when you're doing this work yourself.
Once you have your vehicle squared up to the wall three feet away identify the center of the vehicle and do a vertical piece of painters tape or something to indicate the center, then identify the center of each headlight and do another vertical piece of tape on either side. You're going to want to make sure that the distance between the center and your headlight marking is the same on the wall.
You can identify the center of your headlight by that little dimple that's in the plastic. Then take a tape measure and measure from the ground up to the height of the center of your headlight. Measure that same distance up to the tape on the wall and make a mark on your piece of tape, that should identify exactly the center of your headlight on the wall.
Do that for both sides and then measure down two inches on the wall and make another mark now between those two marks that measure the center of your headlight and a two inch drop put a horizontal piece of tape on the wall to give yourself a cross-section where to aim.
The bottom of this horizontal measurement at that 2 inch mark should be where the top of your beam pattern sits when you're 25 feet away.
Now that you have all your markings correct on the wall, go ahead and pull the vehicle back the vehicle back 25 feet and then we'll look at the aiming.
Now 25 feet is a generic rule of thumb for any vehicle, however some manufacturers specify different distances that may be closer or farther away. So before doing this yourself check your owners manual to make sure you're doing it right.
Now that you have your vehicle 25 feet away from the wall it's time to use some type of a screwdriver or other tool to actually align the headlights up and down. All headlights have different alignment adjusters, they all pretty much act the same way but sometimes they can be a little bit different. Most of the time you're gonna see something that needs a Phillips screwdriver. You open the hood you look down and you find where the headlight adjustments section is on your headlight, then you're gonna be able to see is it a socket. Do you need a Torx bit or will a Phillips screwdriver do the trick. You put the screwdriver in there from the top in your engine bay and when you turn it either clockwise or counterclockwise you're gonna move the mechanism inside the headlight that actually takes the projector or the reflector and moves it up and down.
Now take a look at where your headlights are aimed the top of your headlight, the cutoff line right where the brightest part of the beam is should not be going over that 2 inch drop mark.
So we want a 2 inch drop over 25 feet which communicates to a much larger further in front of the vehicle for normal highway driving.
When you're driving I like to make sure that my headlights are just barely bouncing off the bottom of different street signs to me this is a good indicator that they're not going to be getting in anybody's eyes and it lines up with the step-by-step instructions we just went through.
If you're driving around and all the street signs are constantly lit up or you can see the back of somebody's head in the vehicle in front of you, or you see somebody adjusting their mirrors because you're blinding them, those are examples of either a poorly aligned headlight or you're just using the wrong LED headlight.
What you just learned from this blog can be applied to any vehicle, with any light product out there. It doesn't matter what brand it is, or if it's LED or HID or halogen, it's all the same.
At the end of the day you want a beam pattern that looks like the original halogen, that's brighter hopefully, and you aim them correct this you're not blinding people, it's really that simple.