Headlight Low-Beam Adjustment: How-To ’11 Outback

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You're reading: Headlight Low-Beam Adjustment: How-To ’11 Outback


42 posts

discussion starter · #1 · jul 5, 2011

okay, i picked up my 2011 outback 2.5 and when i drove it at night i couldn’t believe how low the low-beam lights were aimed. it was light this “dark-line” was about 75 feet in front of me. i could not see beyond. everything was fine with the high-beams on, but not the low-beams. so after doing a few searches on this forum i found a few threads with some information, some of it false, some vague and some incomplete. i am not going to include pictures, as the adjustment is very basic with few tools needed.

first, these instructions are just for adjusting the low-beams on a 2011 outback 2.5 (i suspect it would be the same for a 2010).

1) park your car within 3 feet facing a garage door, make sure it is level. turn on the lights (i would do this adjustment during the day to see everything better). mark the top of the beam with blue painters tape affixed to the garage door.

2) once you have established your starting point, you can move the lights up (or down) and see a reference point from where you started. to adjust the driver side light you must remove the battery which is a total of 4 screws and a plastic wire support. take the battery completely out of the car. the adjustment screw/nut is silver in color and you can see teeth as part of the adjustment mechanism. the nut is horizontal, so you will need to approach the nut in this manner. the nut turns very easily and you will need to turn it more than you think to get any noticeable change in light aim. if you are facing the nut, turn it counter-clockwise to raise the light and clockwise to lower the light. i placed the battery back into the car and attached the terminals to see how my adjustment was (do not tighten any of the bolts yet, you may need to pull the battery back out to adjust some more). i raised the light beam about 1.5 -2 inches above the tape. once i was happy with the aim, i put the battery back in and fully tightened all the bolts.

3) to adjust the passenger side low-beam light you need to first remove the “air-intake” scoop the leads to the air filter. this is so easy. to plastic fasteners that you turn 90 degrees and then pop out easily with a flat head screwdriver. the two fasteners are on the leading edge of the air intake. once these are out the intake lifts off very easily.

4) from this point you will see the other adjustment screw/nut. it is a little harder to get to, but you do not need to remove the air-filter housing to access it. you just need patience. i used a wrench and just turned about a quarter turn at a time. the best part though, is your battery is connected, so you can easily go back and forth and check for alignment on the garage.

5) i made sure the passenger side beam was the same as the driver side and put it all back together.

i know this sounds complicated, but you can do the whole thing in less than an hour. if you need to readjust once you have driven at night, you could do this in less than half an hour. i hope this helps.




721 posts

Read more: Car Headlight Bulbs Explained

thanks for the writeup, i’ll keep it in mind should i have to adjust the ob’s headlamps.

2011 outback limited 2.5i/2018 crosstrek limited



5,001 posts

this could be of some help too…it’s the headlight section from the service manual….happy reading…

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2011 outback limited; 2009 forester limited



74 posts

when adjusting your headlights, make sure that you don’t adjust them too high. otherwise, you’ll just blind everybody you meet on the road.

if you’re going to adjust the headlights so that the cut-off is above the horizontal, you may as well save your time on the adjustment and just drive with your high beams on all the time!



62 posts

if you use an extension on your socket you do not have to remove the battery.



2 posts

this post is rather dated now, but after recently modifying my suspension, my headlights were aimed too high (10-15 degrees above horizontal) in my ’11 outback.

i’ll add a few notes.

the headlight adjustment bolt requires an 8mm wrench.

for the driver’s side, i loosened the outer rod of the battery tie-down (10mm) and shifted the battery a few inches out of the way. this gives comfortable access to the 8mm adjustment screw with a ratchet (i used a 3″ extension, but a deep socket would work also).

for the passenger side, after removing the air intake listed above, i removed the two bolts holding the air filter housing so that i could shift it a few inches back. i have the patience to unbolt and reinstall parts, but not the patience to fight with tight access, so it was worth it to me.

the adjustment was simple. highly recommended if your headlights are too high or too low.



19 posts

is there a way to adjust them horizontally? i didn’t notice anything that would make them adjust when i took the light assembly off to upgrade to hid. i have a dark spot on the drivers side at night and i think it projecting too far left.

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Category: Headlights