Headlight alignment is not something a food truck owner thinks about until it adversely affects their night driving. Poor nighttime visibility puts you at more risk for an accident than you may realize. The sooner you can spot potential trouble ahead, the faster you can react to potential on road dangers. Headlight alignment is also about keeping your light aimed to where you do not blind oncoming traffic, which creates another dangerous driving situation.
Though a lot of us think we cannot align our own headlights, it is something you can do yourself in your commissary parking lot. Just make sure if you make this adjustment yourself that you park on a level surface.
Sealed Beam vs Composite Headlights
Until the late 1980s, trucks were generally equipped with sealed beam replaceable glass headlights either round or rectangular in shape. When Halogen headlights were introduced early in the 1980s, they looked like a sealed beam, but were a Halogen high-pressure lamp within a sealed beam lamp envelope.
In the mid-1980s, vehicles sold new in North America started looking more like the rest of the world with composite headlights blended into the aerodynamic shape of a truck’s front end.
Despite changes in lighting technology throughout the years, basic headlight adjustment has not changed much. Whether it is a sealed beam in a ’65 GMC or a Lexan composite lamp in an ’05 Sprinter, basic principles are the same. Lamps adjust up and down or left and right with fine thread adjustment screws. In older applications you will find fine-thread Phillips head screws at 12 o’clock and either 9 or 3 o’clock depending upon side dampened by a spring on each. In newer composite headlight applications, expect to see Allen head fine-thread screws at 12, 9 and 3 o’clock that accomplish the same thing. Whether classic or late-model, lamps pitch up or down and right or left depending on what you want them to do.