5th Gen Mods, Headlights, Lighting

Aiming Low Beam Headlights on 4Runner

Updated 10/17/19 / Read Time: 7 mins

Aiming Low Beam Headlights Lower 5th Gen 4Runner

Aiming Low Beam Headlights Lower 5th Gen 4Runner

How to Aim your Low Beam Headlights on your 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner

After installing a set of HIDs, you may need to adjust your low beam housing. If you swap out your factory halogens with LED low beams, you will likely be fine depending on what state you live in. Some states are more strict than others when it comes to headlights and foglights.

According to dmv.org, headlight laws vary little throughout the nation, though. So with that, you will likely only need to aim your headlights down if you install HID bulbs into your low beams halogen projector housing.

We first installed a set of Xenon Depot (XD) Xtreme LEDs in both our high beam and low beam housing. After these headlights were swapped in, we were not flashed by oncoming traffic, not once. Then, we upgraded to the BD Squadron-R Pros in our fog light housing.

After this install, we started to get some oncoming traffic flash, but it was very minimal (even with the Pros at 4900 lumens). Finally, we took out the XD Xtreme LEDs and swapped in a set of the HID (H11) bulbs.

After the installation of the XD HID (H11s) in the low beam housing, we started getting flashed on a regular basis. I would say about 10% of the cars on the road were flashing us with the HIDs. This was coming from a 1% with the Baja Squad fogs installed and LED Xtremes. So, after installing the HIDs in the halogen projector housing, we needed a solution.

Reasons you might need to lower your headlights

  1. Installing Aftermarket Headlights
  2. Lifting or Leveling your 4Runner
  3. Extensive load in Rear Cargo Area
  4. Towing Trailers and Boats

Aiming the Low Beam Headlights Lower

According to the DOT (Department of Transportation) and SAE (Society of Automobile Engineers) standards, here are the requirements for headlight aiming.

The SAE specifies that if the optical center of the headlamp, or optical center height (OCH), is less than 90 cm (36 inches) above the roadway surface, then the reference point should be at the same height as the optical center. If the optical center is more than 90 cm (36 inches) above the roadway surface, the reference point should be 5 cm (2 inches) below the headlamp optical center. These reference points were adjusted for the greater alignment distance.

You need to have your beam pattern at a certain distance off the ground from a distance of 25 feet. Some say the distance is 36″, some will say 39″ and some will as much as 48″. So, what is the exact height that your headlight cutoff line pattern needs to be on the wall? It all depends.

Many factors come into play when adjusting your headlights, like your lift, size of tires, if you have a rake in your lift, etc. When lowering your headlights, you can pull information from your user manual and this will give you the exact process for stock heights and stock headlights.

Let’s face it, most of us are not here because of anything “stock”.

Exact Toyota 4Runner Guidelines:

If the alignment distance is 7.62m (25.0 Feet): The Low Beam cutoff line should be within 79.5mm (3.13 in) above or below the H line (the horizontal line across the plane you are facing) as well as 79.5mm (3.13 in) left or right of the V line (the center vertical line).

  • Prepare a piece of thick white paper (approximately 2 m (6.6 ft.) (height) x 4 m (13.1 ft.) (width)) to use as a screen.
  • Draw a vertical line down the center of the screen (V line).
  • Align the V line on the screen with the center of the vehicle.
  • Draw baselines (H, V LH and V RH lines) on the screen.
  • You get the point. If you want to download the PDF, check it out. Pretty confusing: Download it here

Step #1: Locate the adjustment screw/ gear (Driver)

How to Aim your 4Runner Low Beam Headlights 

This assumes you know how to pop the tabs on your 4Runner engine bay front plastic cover. You do not need to remove this plastic cover. If you do remove this cover, it will give you a slightly better look at what you are sticking your screwdriver into. You are not actually screwing or unscrewing any screw. You are twisting a gear that is connected to an 8mm bolt. You can either use an 8mm bolt or a #2 Phillips screwdriver. The screwdriver is easier. You can simply slide a screwdriver into the black hole and start turning CLOCKWISE. Not, COUNTERCLOCKWISE.

There was someone in the forum that swore up and down that you turn the screwdriver counterclockwise to lower. That is incorrect.

  • Clockwise to lower (Turns the gear counterclockwise)
  • Counterclockwise to raise (Turns the gear clockwise)

I started turning counterclockwise after what I read and my lights were about 10 feet off the ground when it turned them on.

Step #2: Pull Plastic cover back if needed

Driver Side Low Beam Headlight Adjustment Screw/ Gear

Aim your 4Runner Low Beams - Step #2: Pull Plastic cover back if needed

Again, you do not need to remove the cover but it might help you understand a little better with what you are looking at. After you start cranking down on the gear with your screwdriver, you can either drop the cover back on or keep going until you are happy with your desired height.

Step #3: Getting a close look at the gear

Passenger Side Low Beam Headlight Adjustment Screw/ Gear

Aim your 4Runner Low Beams - Step #3: Passenger Side Low Beam Adjustment Screw

This is the passenger side of your 4Runner. This shot was taken before we started working on the adjustment screw. In the image above this image, you will see how aggressive we were with the screwdriver. I think we were a little irritated with reading the wrong direction for adjusting.

There was someone in the forum that swore up and down that you turn the screwdriver counterclockwise to lower. That is incorrect. The passenger side is also clockwise to lower (Turns the gear counterclockwise). This will lower your headlights.

  • Clockwise to lower (Turns the gear counterclockwise)
  • Counterclockwise to raise (Turns the gear clockwise)

Step #4: Another Option (8mm Socket)

Aim your 4Runner Low Beams - Step #4: Another Option (8mm Socket)

The 8mm socket option is just that, an option. This 8mm bolt is incredibly hard to access. I tried with a short open-end wrench and an 8mm socket extension from the back, coming from behind the white metal brace. The metal brace blocks access to the 8mm bolt. I would still recommend adjusting your headlights from the top (screwdriver), without even needing to remove the plastic cover.

Step #5: Measuring Height (Before)

Aim your 4Runner Low Beams - Step #5: Measuring Height (Before)

Before we started adjusting our low beams, the height up the wall from the ground, after the Xenon Depot HID Headlight Install was 33″. This was with the 4Runner parked 25′ away from the wall on level ground. The cutoff line on the HID headlights was 33″. At 33″, we were getting flashed by oncoming traffic.

Step #6: Measuring Height (After)

Aim your 4Runner Low Beams - Step #6: Measuring Height (After)

After adjusting the 4Runner low beams, we landed on a height of 25″ off the ground.

Initially, I had other numbers. After the first time we adjusted the lights, we were at 28″ of the ground. After adjusting the lights to 28″ from the ground, we still got flashed on the way home. This forced me to move them down to 25″ and we have not been flashed yet!Finally.

Aim your 4Runner Low Beams – Final Overview

Aiming Low Beam Headlights Lower 5th Gen 4Runner

The Final 4Runner Headlight Aiming Solution?

We have lowered ours about 8″ from the cutoff line on the HID headlights. We took our height on the HIDs from 33″ to 25″ and this seems to be working out good for us. But, everyone will have a different outcome and different solution. This is not an exact number guide on how to adjust your headlights. This should serve as a general understanding of how to adjust HIDs on your 5th Gen.

Using your best judgment on lowing headlights

I know, many “4Runner Experts” out there would ask why we are not publishing the perfect numbers or exact numbers for adjusting your headlights. You know, pulling from the Toyota owners manual of the H line, V Line, RV Line and LV Line in order to pull the exact height of where your lights cutoff line should fall.

I personally feel like there is no perfect number out there for adjusting your 4Runner headlights. My best advice would be to use your best judgment. Take this post with a grain of salt when adjusting your headlights.

All of our 4Runner set-ups are different

Some 4Runners have bigger lift kits, with larger tires and this may set your height much taller which will result in a different beam pattern and cutoff line. You need to account for height and rake which is usually much further off from level and far different than stock.

Another thing to consider is a loaded 4Runner. If you go camping and put 300 pounds of gear in your cargo area, your HID headlight beam pattern will start shooting a little higher. You might think driving around town is all good until you load up your 4Runner with a bunch of extra gear.

At the end of the day, this is a pure case by case basis and will depend on how you use your 4Runner. Whether you are an avid camper with a heavy load or a street princess, all of this is going to vary.

Comment and let us know what you adjusted your lights to. What are you running for a lift, bumpers, how heavy are you daily loaded in the back and how does that affect your lights? Thanks, everyone!

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1 month ago

2010 here, can confirm that counterclockwise is down for this year

5 months ago

How much turning is needed? I wanted to lower my headlights after installing the LEDs (since one seemed a bit higher than the other) and in shining them on the wall, I turned it quite a bit (turned screwdriver clockwise which turns gear counterclockwise) and wasn’t seeing it lower. Do I need to turn the gear like 3 or more revolutions to see it really lower? I mean, how sensitive is the adjustment here?

Chris Owens
Chris Owens
1 year ago

One thing I noticed since I installed HIDs is that I had to adjust the headlights down so far that the high beams aren’t nearly as effective as they once were. Still pondering a solution for that. I really like the light that the HIDs provide.

Doug D
Doug D
1 year ago

What about left and right adjustment.

1 year ago

Turning the screw counterclock-wise…(using a screw driver on top) will turn the BOLT clockwise. Turning the bolt clockwise will LOWER it.

1 year ago
Reply to  Rick

Thanks for clearing that up. Any idea much much to turn to lower the light. Just want something to reference to since I don’t have a flat driveway. Just want to at least lower it a bit from the lift and bigger tires. I tried 6 teeth clockwise. And don’t really notice any difference. Don’t know if I should adjust much more?

1 year ago

I didn’t need to adjust my lowbeams at all after installing 4300k 55w HIDS. There is no glare surprisingly and shines out perfectly. The led fogs are a different story. lol

2 years ago

Very helpful article. I just recently upgraded to LED lows. I had the opposite problem where my lights needed upward adjustment. Screwdriver turns were super easy. After a few adjustments, they are now just right, with no glare to other drivers. Thank you for the great article! ~Fern

2 years ago

How the hell do I change out a parking light bulb??

1 year ago
Reply to  Michelle

Hi Michelle, you do it via the fender liner. The process is described in your owner’s manual. Good luck.

Todd M.
Todd M.
2 years ago

Regarding the confusion about clockwise or counterclockwise… It is correct to turn the screwdriver clockwise to lower, but if you adjust from the 8mm bolt it is counterclockwise to lower. The bolt moves counterclockwise when turning clockwise from the top with the screwdriver. Please update this article.

2 years ago

I’ve read in the adjustment guide from
Toyota to always finish the adjustment in the clockwise direction . Is this true ?

2 years ago

I just did my adjustment and it was super high. Like 50″ of the ground at 25′. No wonder I was getting flashed like crazy. I have a 2.5″ lift with 265/70/17 tires.

I dropped it down to 33″ and we’ll see how it goes from there. 25″ just seems way to low but you are right. It will aim high if I’m towing something which I occasionally do. I know the Tundras have a little headlight leveler switch they can flip when they’re towing something.

3 years ago

A ratcheting screwdriver helps a ton with the adjustment of the headlights. If you have one that fits, it works well for stock fogs too.

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