How to Adjust the Headlights on a Ford Escort

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The headlights on a Ford Escort are mounted in adjustable buckets, which should be checked if a new headlight is installed or if you notice that the beams are out of position. This procedure can easily be done in a short amount of time and with a few simple hand tools.

Things You'll Need

  • Wall or darkly painted sheet of plywood
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Marker or pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Straight edge or chalk line

Determine Aiming Points

  • Locate a vertical surface to reflect the headlights against. This can be a wall or a darkly painted sheet of plywood set up on its side.

  • Park the vehicle on a level surface 10 feet away from the wall or darkly painted sheet of plywood. The vehicle must be positioned so that its centerline intersects the wall or plywood sheet at a 90-degree angle.

  • Determine the centerline of the vehicle and draw a vertical line corresponding to it on the wall.

  • Push up and down on the front of the vehicle until the suspension begins to rock. Then allow the suspension to settle. This will ensure that the headlights are at the correct height.

  • Measure the distance between the center of the headlight and the ground on each headlight.

  • Mark the height of each headlamp on the wall and draw a horizontal line between them.

  • Measure the distance between the center each headlamp and divide by two.

  • Measure on the wall, starting from the centerline, along the horizontal line the distance you calculated in the above Step on either side of the centerline. The horizontal line represents the distance from the ground, and the mark you are making in this step represents the distance from the centerline of the vehicle to the center of the headlamp. Where those two lines on each side of the vehicle intersect is where you will be aiming your headlights.

Aim the Headlights

  • Remove the four screws that secure the headlight trim bezel to the grille.

  • Remove the headlight trim bezel.

  • Turn the headlight high beams on.

  • Adjust the headlights. Use the adjustment screws located along the outboard side and the inboard lower corner of the headlight bucket. Adjust the headlights until the beams project directly onto the marks you made on the wall.

  • Push the car up and down on the front suspension until it begins to rock, then allow it to settle.

  • Check the headlight alignment against the marks on the wall to make sure they remain consistent.

  • Replace the headlight trim bezel.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the adjusting screws are corroded, spray them with a penetrating oil such as WD-40 to ease adjustment.

References

  • "Haynes Ford Escort & Mercury Lynx 1981 - 1990 Automotive Repair Manual"; Larry Warren and John H. Haynes; 1990
  • ClubProtege.com
  • Photo Credit Anders Ljungberg creativecommons.com
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