We've all experienced the incredibly bright headlights of oncoming traffic while travelling at night. And it's not their high beams, just poorly aimed headlights.
In the United States the Department of Transportation (DOT) handles the regulations that limit light output and provides guidelines for design elements that legal lights must have. Lights that comply with DOT regulations have a sharp, pronounced cutoff, regardless of illumination type. This is to allow for proper aiming, and prevents blinding oncoming drivers. Unfortunately though, some generic lights do not meet these strict regulations.
Lights that are not properly aimed and adjusted can blind oncoming traffic, which can cause accidents. In addition to that, lights from spot lights and LED light bars can be wasted or underutilized if those lights are not properly adjusted.
In this guide I will walk you through the simple steps to make sure your LED headlights and additional lights are properly adjusted, so you can make the most out of them in safety.
Headlight Adjustment Process
Find a level ground area with a flat wall (or garage door) and at least 30 feet of clear space. Most long driveways would do the job, but be aware of any level changes. Make sure your Jeep has at least half tank of gas and it's filled with its average cargo weight to setup an average height your Jeep will most often be in.
You will need the following:
- Measuring tape (good for at least 25 feet)
- Masking/painters tape
- T15 Torx bit or screwdriver
Mark the Center of Your Jeep
Find a good spot and pull your Jeep up to the wall as close as possible and mark its center. You can use things like the tow hooks or the bumper width as a frame of reference. Then using the level, try to accurately pinpoint that location on the wall and mark it with a piece of masking tape.
Mark the Center of Your Headlights
Next, mark the center axis of each headlight. Use the level and take a measurement, so you can gauge the approximate location. Use the center tape on the wall as a reference to make sure the locations are centered. Once you're comfortable with the the locations, use the masking tape to mark the left and right headlights' center points.
Move Your Jeep 25 Feet Back
Once the center points of the Jeep and lights are marked, move your Jeep back 25 feet from the wall. Make sure to measure 25 feet from the lights themselves, not from the front bumper. When moving your Jeep back, make sure to keep it as straight as possible to ensure the lights are still properly in line with the markings you made earlier.
Mark the Ideal Height
The ideal light height level is about 36 inches. This height will ensure your headlights are properly aimed and are not blinding cars in front of you. Use the masking tape to mark the 36 inch point with a horizontal line across. Using a marker and the level, extend your headlights and vehicle center points down to the 36 inch line.
Adjust Your Headlights
Jeep Wrangler lights can only be adjusted vertically. Unfortunately, there is no adjustment for the horizontal side-to-side projection. The screw for vertical adjustment can be seen behind the small indentation along the sidewall of the light cutout on the grill.
The screw can be adjusted with a T15 Torx: turning the adjustment screw to the left lowers the light beam; turning to the right raises the light beam. When adjusting the height of the light projected by the headlights, you need to make sure to concentrate the majority of the light at or below the 36 inch horizontal line.
Cover one headlight and adjust its height by turning the adjustment screw left or right. Once done, cover that light and move on to the other side. Once both sides are done, you can expose both lights and make sure that they are even with each other and that the main concentration of light is under the 36 inch mark.
High Beams should split the cross hairs.
When properly adjusted, your Jeep Wrangler's headlights should not pass the trunk line of an average sedan when you are behind them. This will ensure you are not blinding the cars in front of you or oncoming traffic. Keep in mind that if you decide to install a lift kit or add larger tires, you will need to re-adjust your headlights.
Adjusting Additional LED Lights
When adjusting additional LED lights, make sure to consider what you want out of the light and research what type of beam pattern is best for your specific application. Installing a very wide flood pattern lamp when you actually need a long distance, tight spot pattern will be a waste and may actually reduce usable light — especially in dusty or foggy conditions.
When properly aimed, LED lights provide a dramatic visibility increase, promotes safer driving, reduces eye strain and saves you money in the long run because the lights last longer and draw less power. Check out our selection of LED Head & Fog Lights and Light Bars and Spot Lights.