How to Adjust the Headlights on a 1986 Honda Civic EX

The 1986 Honda Civic EX used the same basic body style as the other models produced that year. All Civics used a square headlight system with replaceable bulbs. Like many other vehicles, through time and error, the headlights become misaligned creating hazardous situations while driving. You may be blinding oncoming traffic or unable to see road hazards while driving with limited visibility. Adjusting the headlights on the 1986 Civic, as well as many other cars, requires only a screwdriver and some time.

Tools Used: Philips-head screwdriver, Masking tape or similar, Tape measure

Adjust Headlights

Measure from the ground to the center of the low beam headlight. Measure from the center of the low beam headlight to the center of your vehicle's grill.

Park the vehicle on a flat surface with 25 feet of space in between the car and the front of a wall or other flat obstruction.

Mark the measurements on the wall or obstruction using masking tape. Place a cross at the height of the headlight. That mark is the center point for the grille. From that point, use the measurement you obtained from the center of the low-beam headlight to the center of the vehicle's grille to identify where to place the crosses for the passenger and driver side headlights.

Turn on your low beams and adjust your headlights. The headlights will make circles on the wall or obstruction. The top part of the circle should be flush or just below the horizontal lines and centered on the vertical lines of the masking tape. For single-light systems, your high beams automatically center on the cross when your low beams are adjusted. Make vertical adjustments with the top adjustment screw and left-to-right adjustments with the side adjustment screw.

Adjust the high beams in the same manner. While most Honda Civics use a single-light system, you may have a vehicle with dual lights (one for low beams, one for high beams). Both sets of lights have similar adjustment screws. Adjust the high-beams to be centered on the crosses at 25 feet.

Tips & Warnings

When in doubt, aim a little low and centered on the center-point of the vehicle. If you do not have an area large enough to adjust the lights in, you can use a smaller area with the same measurements but instead of making the horizontal adjustment flush with the line, make it slightly intersect the line but still be mostly beneath the line.

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