Taking aim: Adjusting Jeep JK’s headlights

The first effect I noticed after installing Smokey’s coil spacers was that my forward vision at night was severely limited. JK headlights are notoriously bad from the get-go, and even with my replacement Sylvania bulbs, I was struggling to see. The irate phone call from my wife, who was driving in front of me on our trip home from a group wrench day, only confirmed what my eyes were telling me: my headlights’ aim was off.

Thankfully, adjusting the headlights’ aim is a very simple process.

Materials/tools needed:

  • Chalk
  • Tape (masking, painter’s electrical, etc.)
  • Torx T-15 driver
  • Tape measure

Step 1: Preparation

Using masking tape (or electrical tape, in my case) mark a level horizontal line exactly three feet up a perfectly vertical surface. Next, measure exactly 25 feet out on a perpendicular angle to your vertical wall and mark a line for the front of the Jeep.

Step 2: Making the adjustment

Turn on the vehicle’s low beams to reveal the current aim of the headlights. (NOTE: You’ll want to make sure you’re doing this in a suitably dark location or outside after dusk. Even at sunset, I felt it would’ve been easier if I’d waited another 30 minutes or so.)

Insert the T-15 driver into the opening on the upper outside edge of each headlight. (I didn’t have a Torx driver with a small enough shaft for the narrow opening, but a quick trip to AutoZone remedied that.) Turn in a counter-clockwise direction to lower the headlight’s vertical aim (Jeep JKs sold in the U.S. domestic market do not have a horizontal adjustment) until the top of the beam pattern is even with, but no more than two inches below, the horizontal line.

IMG_5056

It’s just that easy! Lowering the headlights’ point of aim will improve their perceived performance, too. I can see the headlight pattern much better on the road ahead after making the adjustment.

First impressions

This adjustment did wonders for my forward visibility. Not having adjusted my headlights before, I was conservative in my changes, keeping the top of the headlight pattern right at the horizontal wall mark. I may adjust this downward just a little at a future time to partially eliminate the annoying blank spot the Jeep’s headlights have always left immediately in front of the vehicle.

Total time to complete

10 minutes (including setup)

Total project cost

$5.79 (Cost of the standalone T-15 driver)

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