Headlight Adjustment Standard
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  1. #1
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    Icon5 Headlight Adjustment Standard

    Two nights ago a friend gave me a lift home in his Hyundai Excel (shudder) that was chosen by his partner's parents (shudder shudder shudder). The top lines of the rather dim lowbeams were aimed at the road about 7 metres in front (left) and 4 metres (right). The once were pop-up headlights of another friend's Bored Crappy (please tell me you don't need that translated) are similar. Does anyone know the Australian Standard for aiming lowbeams? I'd like to start any 'intervention' from a position of authority and the Australian Standards website is pay-per-view and not cheap.

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    [Incidently, the Excel's manual doesn't cover adjusting the headlights, or even mention the topic. Do the Koreans think this information is on a 'need-to-know' basis only? The Japanese tell you because they tell you everything. Peugeot tells you because the headlights are guaranteed to go out of alignment everytime you use a pre-electric adjustor.]
    1980 604 [gone to a richer owner]
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  2. #2
    Moderator Alan S's Avatar
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    From a personal point of view, I doubt that a set of headlights can be adjusted for ever type of sitiuation and to try to do so is almost suicidal.
    I deliberately set my headlights in a very strange way and rarely if ever do I get "flashed" by an oncoming car. By the same token, I often get comments from passengers about how well they can see out of any of my cars and only a couple of nights ago, a mate of one of my sons (who is a real Froggy hater) commented on how well his BX lit the road ahead and asked him how it worked.
    I drive a lot on roads where cattle and roos wander at night so a set of lights pointing at your shoe laces is nothing if not dangerous. My system sets the inside (left) light high and to the left and the right light slightly above normal low beam but so the main beam points slightly to the left of the centre line. I never fit nor do I need higher wattage bulbs as to me that means that all you are doing is making the limited view brighter and (as with those mongrel blue twitching things) blinding oncoming traffic.
    If I were to be living and travelling a lot in suburbia or in traffic, then I may be taking a different view on things, but as I say, I feel it depends on your individual situation and there's no way a suitable standard could be set. I often see complaints about French cars having bad lights and inevitably brighter bulbs always seems to be the misguided view to a fix. As I say, it doen't improve the vision, just makes the bit you can already see a bit brighter and doesn't address the cause.


    Alan S
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  3. #3
    Real cars have hydraulics DoubleChevron's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alan S
    From a personal point of view, I doubt that a set of headlights can be adjusted for ever type of sitiuation and to try to do so is almost suicidal.
    I deliberately set my headlights in a very strange way and rarely if ever do I get "flashed" by an oncoming car. By the same token, I often get comments from passengers about how well they can see out of any of my cars and only a couple of nights ago, a mate of one of my sons (who is a real Froggy hater) commented on how well his BX lit the road ahead and asked him how it worked.
    I drive a lot on roads where cattle and roos wander at night so a set of lights pointing at your shoe laces is nothing if not dangerous. My system sets the inside (left) light high and to the left and the right light slightly above normal low beam but so the main beam points slightly to the left of the centre line. I never fit nor do I need higher wattage bulbs as to me that means that all you are doing is making the limited view brighter and (as with those mongrel blue twitching things) blinding oncoming traffic.
    If I were to be living and travelling a lot in suburbia or in traffic, then I may be taking a different view on things, but as I say, I feel it depends on your individual situation and there's no way a suitable standard could be set. I often see complaints about French cars having bad lights and inevitably brighter bulbs always seems to be the misguided view to a fix. As I say, it doen't improve the vision, just makes the bit you can already see a bit brighter and doesn't address the cause.


    Alan S
    The BX has absolutely brilliant lights, mine were marginal, and setup well... Relays and 80/100watt globes did the tiick ... Bloody awesome lights.

    Even more important the globes and adjustment I think is reflector condition . If the reflectors are buggered, the lights will never be any good.

    How do you find the Xantia headlights Alan, no amount of 'adjusting' of them gets you any light ... I haven't installed relays yet, but I think that'll be a good starting point.

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  4. #4
    1000+ Posts Gamma's Avatar
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    Firstly, keep telling yourself that a third class ride is better than a first class walk.

    As for the head light adjustment there is an ADR somewhere that states the minimum coverage and maximum wattage permissible in headlights so we can ignore them immediately.

    First you need a wall and a length of stick.
    Drive the offending car up to the wall, lights on until you can clearly see the centres of the high beam on the wall at about 4/5ths the height of the lamp above the road., (about six feet away is OK).
    Put the stick in place and chalk mark the position of the stick in front of the wheels and the front wheel position perpendicular to the wall, (permanent marker if this is to be a regular thing).
    You now have a standard geometry to start from.
    Mark the centres of the beam on the wall in chalk and indicate position A.
    Now adjust the lights up, down, side to side, as you see fit, marking your eventual position B, (after first observing if you are aiming low or spotting possums with each beam).
    Now go out for a drive and see where you are at. If not totally satisfied then drive back up to your stick and match your beams with your last marks and repeat your adjustment.

    Keep going until oncoming traffic is acceptably abusive about your lights blinding them.

    Of course, you set using high beam and test drive using low beam/high beam as required.

    Note that lights should be adjusted with the usual amount of crap in the boot and lard arse passengers in the seats or odd readings will be evident.
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  5. #5
    UFO
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gamma
    Firstly, keep telling yourself that a third class ride is better than a first class walk.

    As for the head light adjustment there is an ADR somewhere that states the minimum coverage and maximum wattage permissible in headlights so we can ignore them immediately.

    First you need a wall and a length of stick.
    Drive the offending car up to the wall, lights on until you can clearly see the centres of the high beam on the wall at about 4/5ths the height of the lamp above the road., (about six feet away is OK).
    Put the stick in place and chalk mark the position of the stick in front of the wheels and the front wheel position perpendicular to the wall, (permanent marker if this is to be a regular thing).
    You now have a standard geometry to start from.
    Mark the centres of the beam on the wall in chalk and indicate position A.
    Now adjust the lights up, down, side to side, as you see fit, marking your eventual position B, (after first observing if you are aiming low or spotting possums with each beam).
    Now go out for a drive and see where you are at. If not totally satisfied then drive back up to your stick and match your beams with your last marks and repeat your adjustment.

    Keep going until oncoming traffic is acceptably abusive about your lights blinding them.

    Of course, you set using high beam and test drive using low beam/high beam as required.

    Note that lights should be adjusted with the usual amount of crap in the boot and lard arse passengers in the seats or odd readings will be evident.
    Handy advice thanks! But hydraulic Citroen owners can ignore the last paragraph but add one that includes that the lights should be adjusted with the engine running and ride height lever set at the normal setting.
    Craig K
    2009 C5 HDi Exclusive

  6. #6
    Fellow Frogger! chris's Avatar
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    Certie,

    Barring new cars (i.e. factory settings) I don't think there is a standard for how "high" headlights should shine. All the inspection people look for is whether the angle changes enough between low and high beam, in other words if the dip is working. Some garages will do it with a adjustable board with high and low-beam positions marked on it, others use those fancy prism things. Regardless, they're just measuring the change in angle.

    Of course this is all complicated by the fact that different cars have the headlights at different heights, and what would seriously piss off your fellow motorists in a tall 4WD would cause no dramas on a low sportscar. Don't even get started on those super-low but high-aimed million-watt fog-light things.

    I suggest you get your friends to drive down some dim dark back-country roads, then offer to "fix" their lights for them

    Chris
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  7. #7
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    Fuego Headlights are probably better than any new car I have driven but like Alan, I have the left headlight aimed slightly higher to light up the roadside (doesn't blind oncoming drivers unless they are on the wrong side of the road)

    I think the Fuego reflector provides a very good 'shape' with a left 'kick' that lights up the right area without appearing too bright for oncoming drivers.

    The Ford Falcon's also have pretty good headlights, but they light up FRICKING EVERYTHING and you often get flashed by oncoming motorists even with low beams and I find it quite fatiguing when driving with the high beams on as you get alot of reflection back of trees etc...

  8. #8
    1000+ Posts Haakon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mistareno
    The Ford Falcon's also have pretty good headlights, but they light up FRICKING EVERYTHING and you often get flashed by oncoming motorists even with low beams and I find it quite fatiguing when driving with the high beams on as you get alot of reflection back of trees etc...
    I noticed this - the AU is a terrible light to drive towards, and I would get flashed all the time driving the EPA cars. I adjusted our fleet of 5 cars down a tad, which helped other drivers.

    9 times out of 10 when I see a very bright car coming towards me, its an AU . They seem to have all left the factory adjusted high.
    I tried to drown my sorrows in alcohol, but the bastards learnt how to swim

  9. #9
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    The pretty much standard way to adjust your lights is this:
    1. Find a wall that you can park and face at night, from about 25ft/8m away.
    2. Drive straight up to the wall and park facing it, as close as possible but so you can still walk in front.
    3. Lights on, using a ruler or straight piece of wood, line up the wood from the centre of the lamp to the wall, and so it's level when viewing from the side. The idea is that you're marking exactly where the lamp centre is, on the wall.
    4. Put a cross on the wall at the point where the stick meets it. I use black insulation tape as I don't want to vandalise the local school wall...
    5. Reverse back 25ft/8m, perpendicular to the wall.
    6. Adjust the low beam so that the horizontal cut-off is JUST under the horizontal bar of the cross - about 5-10cm.
    7. Adjust the high beam bright spot so it's vertically centred on the cross - don't worry about height; that's done by the previous step.
    8. Tweak the two headlights so the cutoffs are even.
    9. Drive to a dark quiet road, and fine tune to personal preferences, a la Alan and Mistarenault.
    Done

    Stuey


    2003 PEUGEOT 206 GTi

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by UFO
    Handy advice thanks! But hydraulic Citroen owners can ignore the last paragraph but add one that includes that the lights should be adjusted with the engine running and ride height lever set at the normal setting.
    Yeah RSC drivers can also ignore the last paragraph, as the system is auto levelling upon startup...

  11. #11
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    I can remember reading in some DIY manual or other (before the stores started sealing them in plastic to prevent you looking up what you wanted to know without buying, rotten swine) that the beam is supposed to drop by a certain amount over a certain distance. I adjusted my Bits-are-shitty to that formula once and after a test-drive promptly tweaked them up several degrees further.

    Chris's suggestion that I get my friends "to drive down some dim dark back-country roads" isn't going to happen. The Hyuandai seldom ventures beyond the streetlights even by day, and the Crappy, never. I suppose I could shrug my shoulders on the grounds that it's unlikely to become a problem, and then wait for the next time the fates get stroppy with me, but that involves mess.
    1980 604 [gone to a richer owner]
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Certifiable
    I....that the beam is supposed to drop by a certain amount over a certain distance.....
    That's why I specified 5-10cm below horizontal @ 8m.


    2003 PEUGEOT 206 GTi

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stuey
    That's why I specified 5-10cm below horizontal @ 8m.
    I thought so. Thanks for that.

    Now all I have to do is put the fear into my friends....
    1980 604 [gone to a richer owner]
    1988 205 XLD Diesel

    Old Peugeots never die, they just get more peculiar looking.

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