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Realign Your Headlights So You Can See the Deer Coming

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Just look at this jerk
Image: Stuart Oikawa

Fall is a bit of a double-whammy problem when it comes to deer in the road. First, September, October and November are the depths of deer mating season, leading to more and more of the animals wandering into the road. Second, the days are getting shorter, which means earlier and darker evenings in which the deer can go unnoticed before a collision.

The deer in the road makes fall an especially bad time to have misaligned headlights. Don’t worry, though, aligning your headlights is an easy task that you can do yourself.

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So, first, before you do anything, check the headlight unit sides and top for built-in bubble levels. If these are on the headlight unit, they will help you make sure your headlights are level very easily. Don’t panic if they aren’t there, though — you can do this accurately without them. All you need is some tape, a long tape measure, a blanket, and a blank wall that you can drive up to.

First, park your car as close to the wall as you can and turn on the headlights. Mark the center of the lights with a long horizontal stripe of tape, all the way across. Then do the same with vertical pieces of tape, these about 2 feet each.

Now, back your car up as straight as you can. The distance you need to go back changes based on your car’s brand, so check your owner’s manual for the correct distance, and measure it out to get the most accurate adjustment. A good rule of thumb is to get about 25 feet back.

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Next, use the blanket to block one headlight. Look where the other beam falls compared to the marks on the wall—you want the most intense part of the beam to be at or just below the center line, and lined up horizontally with the intersection.

To adjust these, you need to find the location of the headlight adjusters. These are usually a screw or bolt on the side, back, or bottom of the unit. They usually aren’t marked, so if you can’t find them, check your owner’s manual or online. Once you finish the one headlight, switch the blanket to the other side and repeat the process.

Congratulations! You have successfully adjusted your headlights, helping you react to deer in the road. Just be aware, of course, that some states have their own specifications on aiming, so double-check that your state is not one of these, and drive safely.

News Source: Popular Mechanics