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Headlight Alignment and Adjustment

September 23, 2010 | Troubleshooting & Repair

By Bill Macy

An Abridged Rendition from the German

Source: 1964 Edition of the "Inland" (Domestic) 356C Driver's Manual

For those who are able to read the "mother tongue" the original text is included below.

1. Orient the long axis of the car perpendicularly to the alignment target area/chart (in this case probably a wall!) on a level surface.

2. Fill the tires to the correct pressures. If the driver remains in the car the fuel tank should be full. Without the driver the tank should be empty.

3. Approach the wall, but stop the car about 20 ft (6 m) in front of it. Then roll or push the car forward until the distance between the headlights and the wall is 16 ft 4 3/4 in (5 m = dimension d. in the figure). This is to allow the suspension to settle into its normal driving attitude.( Note: alignment is done using the low beams, one light at a time, with the other light covered.)

Now measure off the following reference points on your alignment target (The Wall):

Note: letters correspond to labels on picture above

a. the horizontal distance between the mid or center points of each headlight.
b. the vertical distance between the headlight centers and the surface (ground, asphalt, etc.).
c. make marks where the horizontal and vertical reference points intersect and then mark off 2 easily visible cross marks 2 inches below the intersection points of a. and b. (1% of distance "d": 0.01 x 5m = 50 mm = 1.969 in).

4. Starting with the horizontal adjustment screws, align the center of each headlight beam with the appropriate left or right cross marks you just made. Then bring the beam centers into vertical alignment with the crosses.

For those with asymmetric head lamps use the apex of the obtuse angle formed between the horizontal beam top and the upward ascending right part. Note: Align this notch or knee (der Knick), rather than the beam centers, with the cross marks. The figure shows this relationship quite clearly.

Note: after major up-down adjustments insure that the left-right settings are correct, re-adjusting as needed.