No matter how good headlights are, if they’re not correctly adjusted even state-of-the-art systems won’t help. And good adjustment will take a bit of time. That’s why nobody should complain about increasing costs for a good job at the garage.

Skilled people can do lots of things themselves on their cars. Of course every hobby mechanic needs to know what they’re doing. And a few tools and devices are needed as well. But when it comes to headlight adjustment the first problem is that without a headlight aligner you’re lost. And if your car also has, say, adaptive light distribution or glare-free high beam you’ll also need other devices such as a workshop tester. So you really do need to go to a garage.

Some drivers actually expect professionals to “just quickly” adjust their headlights, and free of charge as well. You can’t expect serious work under these conditions. It won’t do to put the headlight aligner somewhere in front of the headlights and turn one or two screws. Or even somehow.

Anyone serious about aligning the lights will first prepare the car. The tire pressure needs to be right because the car could be slightly tilted if there are any deviations. For the same reason a mechanic worth his salt will take a look inside the trunk. A heavy load will push down the rear which has an effect on the headlight range. The tank should therefore also be more than half full. Especially in small cars someone should sit in the driver’s seat. Heavy vehicles will often stay level even with the weight of the driver.

This applies particularly if the car has a headlight system with additional functions, including adaptive light distribution for cities, country roads and highways, or dynamic cornering lights. The whole thing gets really complicated with glare-free high beam and matrix or pixel light. They involve a lot of effort because the headlights first need to be put in a basic setting using the workshop tester. This not only costs time but also requires investing in equipment.

There’s a lot of work involved, and not just in modern cars. In many old cars the adjustment screws are heavy going or even rusty and stuck. Obviously more time is needed if you first need to make the threads or even the motors of the headlamp leveling system move smoothly again.

So proper headlight adjustment is worth the money – do-it-yourself won’t do. It’s like with tires. They can’t be balanced in your own garage either.

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