Headlights Too High

Submitted: Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 08:46
ThreadID: 130544 Views:2234 Replies:13 FollowUps:30
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On my recent trip the ute was pretty well loaded with the back hanging down a bit. Some car drivers were obviously finding my lights a too high, on low beam. Truckies were OK.

The trailer was only slightly front heavy. The main problem was the weight in the ute, though it would be well under the one tonne capacity.

As far as possible I had the load to the front but when loaded for a big trip it's inevitable that the back gets weighted also.

In my youth, overload springs were the go. I doubt that's legal these days.

Any thoughts on this please. You'll understand I felt terrible when other drivers flashed their lights at me. I must get on top of this for next trip.

Thanks,
Laurie.
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Reply By: Notso - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 08:50

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 08:50
Plenty of options, here's one!Helper Springs

AnswerID: 591368

Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 09:43

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 09:43
Thanks Notso!

You've given me a good start, though the product seems to be not suitable for my model of Rodeo tradies ute, 2wd. To do with the interleaf liners.

I'll keep looking now that I know where to start.
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Reply By: Member - shane r1 - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 09:01

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 09:01
I feel the same when my lights are too high. And also when others have unadjusted lights or fog lights on when shouldn't .
If you are only occassionly loaded you could go to air bags to lift it, which would also make the drive nicer, or adjust the lights to suit,most vehicles are easy to do, that's the cheaper option.
AnswerID: 591369

Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 10:01

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 10:01
Thanks Shane!

Yes, adjusting the lights seems the simplest and cheapest option. I'll lift the bonnet and see how easy it will be. I'm just worried about getting the adjustment right upon returning.
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 19:21

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 19:21
Bega, forstly, thanks for being a considerate driver, many don't worry about it but good that others aren't blinded whne up to a couple od hundred k's per hour closing speed !!.

Ok, in good daylight or with a torch, find the up / down adjustment, should be easy to locate (what sort of vehicle ?).

In dusk light, or shaded carport / inside shed, etc, line up car at 90o from a back wall, headlights on so you can see them on the wall from oh, maybe 10 to 15 feet away ?
Put a line of masking tape across on the wall centre of the headlights on high beam.
Then all you have to do is adjust to where you think needed, can be in the ballpark obviously, you might only need a few degrees down to stop the problem.
Just note how many turns clockwise or counterclockwise you go, then do the reverse after the trip loads are off . . . this can be down mid trip too if needed, you want to be able to see at night up the road a bit when driving, not just 10 feet in front of you !! :)

Some people mark their old shed walls permanently with their perfect adjustment, then correct to this after getting home.
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Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 22:50

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 22:50
Thanks Les! That's what I'll need to do.

The ute rides and tracks quite well on the highway under the load conditions so I shouldn't need to alter the suspension.
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Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Saturday, Oct 10, 2015 at 07:18

Saturday, Oct 10, 2015 at 07:18
For sure mate, and after I posted that I read below and saw the many suggestions and methods to do the same, should have read through there first.

Oh, if you ever consider air bags, and you own a dual cab, always consider the increased pivot point on the chassis with air bags, they do lead to bent chassis in some cases, with dual cab overhang.
A better option there are helpers, or maybe something like the SAX Equaliser or other such.
Something that works as the load increases.
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Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Saturday, Oct 10, 2015 at 12:12

Saturday, Oct 10, 2015 at 12:12
Thanks Les!

At 625 bucks, I reckon I'll stick with the screwdriver method. I have a couple of screwdrivers in the shed.
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Reply By: tim_c - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 09:03

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 09:03
It's not difficult to adjust your headlights down a little - just an adjustment screw on each headlight - give it a few turns on each headlight and check to see where your beams are going - see where they come up to on other vehicles in the traffic and you'll be able to determine if they likely to be a problem for other road users (I understand it's a European requirement that you can adjust this from the driver's seat so many European cars will have a knob on the dashboard which adjusts headlight beam height.)
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Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 09:56

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 09:56
Thanks Tim!

I've been reluctant to alter the correct adjustment of the lights for fear of not getting it correct for normal times. Sounds like it's not such a big deal.

Should I put a mark on the shed door with the ute at say three metres away? If so, how far would I lower the beam to allow for the load, given I only load up when I'm ready to leave and time is short then.
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Follow Up By: tim_c - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 10:34

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 10:34
If you're going to put a mark on the shed door it will be very easy - mark the shed door at the top of the headlight beams when the ute is empty, then once you've loaded the ute and coupled up the trailer, you can readjust the headlights back to your mark. When you come home and unload the ute and uncouple the trailer, you can realign the headlights back to your original mark.

Having said all that - 3m is probably a bit close (I thought it was generally supposed to be 7 or 10m), but you will need to make sure you park the same distance away each time.
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Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 22:53

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 22:53
Thanks Tim!

I'll be struggling to get more than 5 metres away from the wall, on flat ground. That's the way I'll need to go.
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Follow Up By: Stu & "Bob" - Saturday, Oct 10, 2015 at 10:30

Saturday, Oct 10, 2015 at 10:30
What you could also do, is after unloading the vehicle, and before adjusting the lights to normal, make a mark on the wall where the lights need to be for loaded, then you don't have to muck around after loading the car.
You will now have two marks on the wall, one for normal driving around, and another for fully loaded.
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Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Sunday, Oct 11, 2015 at 18:33

Sunday, Oct 11, 2015 at 18:33
Sounds good Mate, thanks.
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Reply By: vk1dx - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 09:08

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 09:08
I adjust the lights myself. Sorry mate - but you should have known better and adjusted them yourself, especially before a long trip. Not only is it legal but it is remiss of you to knowingly blind oncoming drivers. Quite blunt I suppose and not trying to upset you you either. Just talking straight up.

We now have some air bags fitted to the rear as part of our GVM upgrade. They were installed by the engineer to aid stability for the weight increase.

Luckily they also lift the rear when you increase the pressure and thus restore the departure angle back to normal and the lights set so they don't blind oncoming driver. I was losing skin off the knuckles every time that I adjusted the lights.

Phil
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Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 10:03

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 10:03
Thanks for that Phil!

I'll be sure to do better in future.
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Follow Up By: Member - John - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 17:09

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 17:09
Phil, nothing to do with headlights, but GVM upgrade...... I am surprised that air bags are part of a legal increase of GVM, as if punctured, no support for extra Just curious.......
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Follow Up By: Member - John - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 17:10

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 17:10
bloody too quick on the send button, should have read; no support for extra weight. Just curious.......
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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 20:40

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 20:40
They aren't a legal requirement. But stability at the extra weight is a requirement.

Like I said "to aid stability for the weight increase".

Phil
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Reply By: Member - Bigred13 - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 09:43

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 09:43
Hi Laurie,
Just another thought to your problem,you say you are heavily loaded in the ute,"under the 1 tonne capacity", but you may be under the capacity in your ute ,but I am sure with Utes that your tow ball weight must be reduced ,corresponding to the extra weight you have in the back,ie if you are allowed 250kg on your tow ball ,that is with no load in the tray and for every kg that goes in the tray ,there is a reduction in the capacity of your tow ball weight,some I have seen that if you have the legal load in the tray ,the tow ball weight comes down to 80 kgs?
Regards
John
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Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 10:21

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 10:21
Thanks John!

That makes sense. The trailer is 7x5. I had a quadbike, 6 feet long, against the front tailboard. The tow bar weight was not excessive, maybe only 50kg, I'd guess (I can lift it).

For the trip home, I got some outback timbers for woodcraft and stacked the billets toward the back of the trailer, to no avail, so I conclude the trailer weight is not the issue.

Next trip I'll need to adjust the headlights or get some suspension assistance.
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Reply By: Ross M - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 10:15

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 10:15
Headlight adjustment is dead easy.
If you alter them, ie, 3 turns downwards, after the trip you can rotate the same adjusters 3 times the other way.
3steps forwards and then 3 steps back generally means you are at the same place!

Before you load up turn on the lights and see where the bright spots are on the shed wall.
Then adjust downwards to cater for any alteration to the spot position when loaded.

If you mark the shed wall for both loaded and unloaded situations then you can replicate the need anytime for either condition.
AnswerID: 591378

Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 10:25

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 10:25
Thanks Ross!

I've noticed in old time, country workshops, they have marks on the wall and have guessed adjusting lights is what they are about.

I suppose three metres distance would be suitable.
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Reply By: TomH - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 10:39

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 10:39
Rear loading the trailer is a sure way to an almost certain disaster.

Is the absolute no no way to counteract ballweight.

It sounds like your ute was overloaded to be that bad. Overload or another leaf in the spring would be the way to go
AnswerID: 591380

Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 12:21

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 12:21
Thanks Tom!

I wouldn't call it rear loading the trailer, rather distributing the load to maintain correct tow bar weight. I doubt the trailer weight distribution had an effect on the problem. The weight was not large.

I've never weighed the ute when loaded for a trip but I doubt I'd be carrying anywhere near a tonne. Maybe approaching three quarters, I'd reckon.

It's more a matter of weight distribution. Behind the rear axel I have two small gas bottles, chain saw, toolbox and a BIG box with my clothes, laptop, cameras and all that kind of stuff. This box would be the main problem.
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Reply By: Ron N - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 10:42

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 10:42
BP - It is more than important - it is CRITICAL - that you adjust your headlights every time you load up, regardless of what you have installed for suspension, or what you are carrying.

Blinding, badly adjusted headlights are a regular feature of our roads, and they feature as a major factor in numerous serious crashes.
For truckies, regular blinding headlights are a PIA they can do without.

However, I personally find manufacturers do little to help as regards headlight adjustment, with many adjusting mechanisms confusing, difficult to find, difficult to operate, and difficult to get correct adjustment.
Some have hand-operated adjusters that are difficult to grasp and get your hand into. Many use adjustment screws that require you to carry a phillips screwdriver at all times.

This is the way I do my headlight adjustments.
I select a level patch of ground (concrete preferably), at least 10 metres away from in front of a wall or shed door, when fully loaded and fuelled up.

Acquire a piece of wood (a garden stake will do), and hold it vertically in front of the headlight.
Mark the position of the exact centre of your headlight with a marker pen, or even better, nail a small cross-piece to the stake at this height.

Place the stake against the wall or door and turn your headlights on and flick them onto high beam.

The centre of the headlight beam on the wall or door, when on high beam, must be exactly in line with the crosspiece or mark on the stake - or even slightly below it.
The centre of the beam must not be higher than the crosspiece or mark.
Adjust headlights to meet the above requirement.

Once you have adjusted the high beam to this level, low beam will be in the correct position to prevent blinding oncoming drivers.

If necessary, adjust the sideways adjustment as well, to ensure the lights are pointing evenly ahead, each side.

Cheers, Ron.
AnswerID: 591381

Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 12:03

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 12:03
Thanks Ron!

So the high beam runs exactly level when the vehicle is on level ground. I didn't know that.

It would be the same for the driving lights I expect.
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Reply By: Member - Peter H1 (NSW) - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 19:01

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 19:01
Properly adjusted headlights should also go down and to the left slightly when dipped.
USA vehicles throw to the right and have to be adjusted accordingly.

PeterH
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Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 22:59

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 22:59
Thanks Peter!

Good thing I won't be going to the US huh! It would get just too much for this simple country lad.
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Saturday, Oct 10, 2015 at 09:45

Saturday, Oct 10, 2015 at 09:45
It's illegal to have U.S. lights fitted that throw to the right when dipped. If you have them fitted, you need to replace them with Australian lights that throw to the left, that meet Australian Vehicle Standard Design Rules for lighting. That standard is Australian Design Rule 46/00 - Headlamps.

On the following link (the NT Vehicle Standards Rules definitions), there is outlined, all the instructions you need for low beam adjustment (including a clear diagram).
The instructions are about halfway down the webpage, in the centre (to find it fast, press CTRL and F together, type "Low Beam" into the search box, and hit the "Enter" button)

NT VSR definitions

Even though these are the NT regulations, the lighting regulations are the same, Australia wide.

The low beam is normally measured at 8 metres distance, in official testing - at which distance, the TOP of the LOW BEAM lit area, must be no higher than the CENTRE of the headlight, measured at the vehicle.

At 25 metres, the TOP of the LOW BEAM lit area, must be no more than 1 metre above the ground.

Cheers, Ron.
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Reply By: Frank P (NSW) - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 21:36

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 21:36
A vehicle I used to have, a cheap and, some would say, crappy Kia Sportage.

Though I have moved on, I believe it was a highly under-rated small 4WD. Helped extract more than a few name brands on Fraser Island.

But I digress. Back to topic. It had driver adjustable headlights. If the Koreans can do it for just a few bucks, why cannot mainstream manufacturers do it for their thousands?

Driver-adjustable headlights should be compulsory, IMO.

Cheers





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Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 23:02

Friday, Oct 09, 2015 at 23:02
Sounds good to me Frank!
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Follow Up By: Member - John - Saturday, Oct 10, 2015 at 06:00

Saturday, Oct 10, 2015 at 06:00
or for a few dollars more an auto adjust system...............
John and Jan

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Follow Up By: Ron N - Saturday, Oct 10, 2015 at 09:54

Saturday, Oct 10, 2015 at 09:54
Right on, Frank. It amazes me that something so important as quickly and simply-adjusted headlight height is not made a priority in vehicle design standards.

Lucky we don't live in France, eh? In France, the Franc penalty for out-of-adjustment headlights, is the equivalent of AUD$800!
If we had similar penalties here, we would have virtually no dazzling headlights!

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Member - shane r1 - Saturday, Oct 10, 2015 at 23:46

Saturday, Oct 10, 2015 at 23:46
Cheers to that! I tend to have a bit of road rage towards unadjusted lights and fog light on in inappropriate times, fines like that wouldn't be a bad idea .
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Follow Up By: Zippo - Wednesday, Oct 14, 2015 at 17:36

Wednesday, Oct 14, 2015 at 17:36
Frank, you're spot on. Even SWMBO's 2013 Corolla has dashboard headlight height adjustment.
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Reply By: The Bantam - Saturday, Oct 10, 2015 at 22:24

Saturday, Oct 10, 2015 at 22:24
Saying that headlight should be adjusted with the high beams running straight and level is not exactly true and may be part of the problem.

Passenger car vehicles that have headlights lower to the ground do have correct adjustment with the headlight beams being straight and level.

BUT
My toyota manual shows a difference between the 2wd and the 4wd version ...... the 4wd being nearly a foot higher at the headlights.

The 4wd which is taller and softer in the tail ..... is specified with a downward inclination in the headlights with the vehicle unloaded ..... not much bit it is as speced.

This is an issue with light utes because they bare pretty much all the payload on the rear wheels.

BTW ..... I have not yet owed a vehicle that came to me with the headlights correctly adjusted ...... and there is a dramatic difference between sealed beams and halogen inserts ...... if halogen inserts have been retro fitted quite some adjustment is required.

cheers
AnswerID: 591441

Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Sunday, Oct 11, 2015 at 18:53

Sunday, Oct 11, 2015 at 18:53
Thanks Bantam!

"This is an issue with light utes because they bare pretty much all the payload on the rear wheels".

Yes, that's where a lot of my trouble comes from. The rear axle is the midpoint under the tray. Try as I do to load to the front, little of the load is carried by the front wheels.

I'll check out my headlight height against my wife's XTrail, parked right beside the ute in the shed.
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FollowupID: 859506

Reply By: swampy - Sunday, Oct 11, 2015 at 11:18

Sunday, Oct 11, 2015 at 11:18
HI,
Many moons ago I worked on 150 car fleet of yellow cabs .
On the monthly service/overhaul headlight aiming was just routine .
procedure
1x car length away from wall ,level ground ,vehicle square to wall 90degrees
light height and pattern on wall at same height ,both sides[ biased to slightly lower 10mm]
have the patterns slightly biased towards left 10 mm or so

An indication of pattern at night is to pull up one car length behind a commodore and the headlight pattern is very readable on the boot

I would go up to 3-5 car lengths and do the same as above [at some point in that distance the pattern will be un readable that's obviously no good ]

4wd vary a lot depending upon vehicle height trial and error or refer manual

Iron man sells helper springs for leaf sprung utes about 150 $ can be diy also

If u tow and cannot set headlights or rectify vehicle sitting down at rear the vehicle should not be driven . Similar to the driver with huge excessive weight on towball . agh agh !

cheers swampy
AnswerID: 591456

Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Sunday, Oct 11, 2015 at 18:58

Sunday, Oct 11, 2015 at 18:58
Thanks Swampy!

Very helpful.
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Reply By: Jackolux - Sunday, Oct 11, 2015 at 12:27

Sunday, Oct 11, 2015 at 12:27
G'day Laurie ,
I think I have just worked out who you are , Bega Photographer have to be you .
Anyway your springs , do you have a Spring Works in your area , if you do load the Ute up and let them have a look , they will come up with a fix , might cost a few bucks but it will be a proper fix .

Regards Jacko , ( do you remember me from APF )
AnswerID: 591458

Follow Up By: Bega Photographer - Sunday, Oct 11, 2015 at 19:08

Sunday, Oct 11, 2015 at 19:08
G'day Jacko! Great to hear from you Mate!

I think I'll stick to adjusting the lights for the next trip, but thanks for the suggestion.

You'll remember when we were at Point Hicks and I opted to not go the the dunes with you, due to my fitness level.

Well, I've got a bit younger and have been up the dunes twice since then, once with some friends and the other time with my grandson. The young fella made me look a bit old when I knocked up on the way home, but I did it and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Currently researching a possible trip across Lake Torrens.
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Follow Up By: Jackolux - Sunday, Oct 11, 2015 at 20:47

Sunday, Oct 11, 2015 at 20:47
Getting younger that's the go Laurie , good to hear . We have been back to Point Hicks a couple of times too . I dunno but those dunes get steeper every trip .

Catch ya Jacko .
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