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Help with Model 3 Headlights Adjustment Settings

steven415

Member
Jan 19, 2018
113
143
California
So I was messing with my car and realized there is no default setting to return my headlights into a default position.

Right now I think i have them even but however i'm not sure if I'm blinding other drivers. Anyone know of any resources or guides?

Thanks.
 

SDKoala

Model 3 LR RWD
Apr 11, 2018
866
964
San Diego
I did the same thing to one of my headlights (even though it tells you not to adjust it) and had no idea where it was supposed to be pointed. Since I only moved one side, I counted that the other side was something like 10-11 clicks of the thumb wheel from the bottom, so I adjusted the first side the same number of clicks upward. I don't know if factory reset will adjust the headlights to a default setting.

I had to take it for other service anyway and asked them to realign the headlights for me. I honestly don't know if there's some special guide they follow or if they just eyeball so they look even. In the mean time, I'd err on too low rather than two high.
 

TT97

Active Member
Aug 6, 2017
2,173
2,911
Los Angeles
If you do a search online, you can find several guides on how to adjust the headlights, however, I would recommend going to the service center to have them do it.

As a temporary fix, stop your car about 20-30' from a wall at night (make sure the car and wall are level) and from there you can see where the beams are pointing. Don't be overall concerned that they are adjusted precisly, just that they do not beam up to blind oncoming traffic.
 

iluvmacs

Member
Jan 27, 2014
489
810
Madison, WI
I did the same thing to one of my headlights (even though it tells you not to adjust it) and had no idea where it was supposed to be pointed. Since I only moved one side, I counted that the other side was something like 10-11 clicks of the thumb wheel from the bottom, so I adjusted the first side the same number of clicks upward. I don't know if factory reset will adjust the headlights to a default setting.

I had to take it for other service anyway and asked them to realign the headlights for me. I honestly don't know if there's some special guide they follow or if they just eyeball so they look even. In the mean time, I'd err on too low rather than two high.
Keep in mind the driver side headlight is typically aimed lower than the passenger side, so as not to blind oncoming drivers (and provide better illumination off to the side of the road).
 

SDKoala

Model 3 LR RWD
Apr 11, 2018
866
964
San Diego
Keep in mind the driver side headlight is typically aimed lower than the passenger side, so as not to blind oncoming drivers (and provide better illumination off to the side of the road).

Good point! All more reason to have the service center deal with it.
 

drawfour

Member
Mar 10, 2018
774
708
Seattle, WA
Why would they give a way to change the headlight orientation from the controls if you're not supposed to touch them? Seems like they should have a max up value that should not blind incoming cars... Or only provide a way to adjust the headlights if you're in some diagnostic mode that only Tesla techs can get into...
 

RayK

Active Member
Apr 5, 2016
1,968
1,915
San Jose, CA
Why are you adjusting the headlights?

Why would they give a way to change the headlight orientation from the controls if you're not supposed to touch them?
AFAIK, every modern car ever made allowed the owner to adjust the headlights. There's many reasons why they have done so but it comes down to flexibility and choice. There's some alignment advice out there on the net but the best way I remember is to park about 30 feet from a garage door (or wall) and see where the 'hot spot' of the lights are. With the Model 3 it's fairly easy since there's a very visible cutoff point, based upon my memory from the rental I had a few months ago. Adjust them so that the left is slightly lower than the right. Drive around at night and see how well they illuminate the road (or don't). Rinse and repeat.
 

voip-ninja

Give me some sugar baby
Mar 15, 2012
4,124
4,694
Colorado
So I was messing with my car and realized there is no default setting to return my headlights into a default position.

Right now I think i have them even but however i'm not sure if I'm blinding other drivers. Anyone know of any resources or guides?

Thanks.

Service centers usually use templates that allow them to re-adjust the headlights to factory specification, this requires the vehicle to be level and a specific distance from the target used to set them. It is difficult for owners to do this on their own, and, as indicated, the driver's headlight is supposed to be lower (in a stair-step pattern) than the passenger headlight in order to reduce glare for oncoming drivers. There are general rules of thumb you can find on the internet for meeting DOT spec, which will tell you how far the headlight cutoff should be from a wall that your car is a specific distance from.

Higher end German and Japanese cars sold in other markets use a camera and adjust the height and offset of the beam automatically with no input from the driver needed.... also auto-leveling is commonly available so that the headlight beam isn't negatively affected by towing.... which is one of the only times a US owner should need to adjust their headlight beams... usually the owner's manual will give some guidance here and it's a good idea to make a note of how many turns of the adjustment screw you do so you can easily reverse the procedure.

As to the "why did they give me adjustments if I wasn't supposed to adjust them".... that's just being silly. There are assembly tolerances that will require some adjustment of the headlights at the factory. Additionally, if the car is designed for left hand drive markets (which would be nearly every car designed today) then the headlight pattern has to be swapped when the car is built for the other market, requiring the right headlight to be low and the left one to be high.

Taking a brand new car with factory calibrated headlights and immediately screwing around with them is something my grandfather would have done on his cars that were built in the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's. I just don't see the reason for doing it these days unless they are mis-aligned out of the gate.
 
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drawfour

Member
Mar 10, 2018
774
708
Seattle, WA
AFAIK, every modern car ever made allowed the owner to adjust the headlights. There's many reasons why they have done so but it comes down to flexibility and choice. There's some alignment advice out there on the net but the best way I remember is to park about 30 feet from a garage door (or wall) and see where the 'hot spot' of the lights are. With the Model 3 it's fairly easy since there's a very visible cutoff point, based upon my memory from the rental I had a few months ago. Adjust them so that the left is slightly lower than the right. Drive around at night and see how well they illuminate the road (or don't). Rinse and repeat.
Yeah, but what I mean is a motorized mechanism. Typically, you adjust them with a screwdriver. Why add the motor and a signal pathway to the MCU so that it can be controlled by software? It just seems like a waste of parts and added complexity if no one is expected to use the mechanism, except for techs. I'd rather have a powered trunk than adjustable headlights.
 

TT97

Active Member
Aug 6, 2017
2,173
2,911
Los Angeles
Yeah, but what I mean is a motorized mechanism. Typically, you adjust them with a screwdriver. Why add the motor and a signal pathway to the MCU so that it can be controlled by software? It just seems like a waste of parts and added complexity if no one is expected to use the mechanism, except for techs. I'd rather have a powered trunk than adjustable headlights.

I was thinking the other way - if they are going to be adjustable, why not make them self-leveling. My current car has that.

Maybe it is a planned software update at some point and they wanted the hardware in place. Or maybe you won't care as you don't need headlights with FSD. :)
 

drawfour

Member
Mar 10, 2018
774
708
Seattle, WA
I was thinking the other way - if they are going to be adjustable, why not make them self-leveling. My current car has that.

Maybe it is a planned software update at some point and they wanted the hardware in place. Or maybe you won't care as you don't need headlights with FSD. :)
You do if you're using visual cameras instead of radar and lidar. :)
 

Arpe

Member
Dec 27, 2017
103
148
Denmark

ecarfan

Well-Known Member
Sep 21, 2013
19,279
13,947
West Vancouver, British Columbia
Does the model 3 have directional headlights?
Please define what you mean by “directional headlights”.

If you mean “Three position dynamic LED turning lights” like the S/X have as standard, the answer is “No” according to the Tesla showroom personnel that I have spoken with. They say that is not standard or an option on the Model 3.

Note that the S/X headlights are not “self leveling”, though since the cars have SAS (air suspension) the entire car is self leveling, but that’s not effective for keeping the headlights level while driving because it’s too slow.

I don’t own a 3 and did not realize that one can easily adjust the headlights. Is that done through a control on the center display or is it done manually from inside the frunk?
 

MP3Mike

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2016
15,832
35,336
Oregon
I don’t own a 3 and did not realize that one can easily adjust the headlights. Is that done through a control on the center display or is it done manually from inside the frunk?

It is done via the center display and the scroll wheels on the steering wheel.
 

Twincam23

Member
Apr 2, 2016
184
288
los angeles
model 3 problem

1u6yux.jpg
 

ThosEM

Space Weatherman
Dec 13, 2013
870
310
Annapolis, MD
Just park in front of a wall with a flat surface next to it (like a level driveway) and adjust the headlights so that the top edge of the beam is no higher than the actual physical headlight on the car. A level upper edge should not be offensive, but you might want to point it down a bit from there, perhaps 1 cm at a few meters away. This has worked for me when my service center pointed them too high.
 

gregd

Active Member
Dec 31, 2014
2,555
1,777
CM98
I was thinking the other way - if they are going to be adjustable, why not make them self-leveling. My current car has that.

Maybe it is a planned software update at some point and they wanted the hardware in place.
Wild thought, but perhaps it's for manufacturability? Aiming with software could eliminate / automate what I would guess to be a rather manual process.
 
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