May 192013

Right after the new year I upgraded my E36 M3 headlights with a new set of European elliptical headlights from BMW supplier Hella. Here’s the full story.

After I installed them I had the beams adjusted at a local service station. Recently I noticed that the headlight assemblies were no longer flush to the corner lights and the front edge of the hood. What must of happened was the shop adjusted the height of the headlight beams by moving the entire assemblies, not the projectors inside the assemblies.

So I had to adjust the assemblies forward. By doing so I inclined the beams forward as well, and they were too low on the road. So the projectors needed to be adjusted upwards so the light shone properly in front of my car.

Here’s an online tutorial on how to do so. It’s not quite as involved as it sounds, as long as you can find a flat surface 25 feet away from a 90 degree wall. The closest for me was a nearby school. I drove there after dark, and had anyone asked what I was doing, I figured I’d just explain and hope they were into cars.

Of course it’s important your beams are correctly adjusted, and in states like Virginia this is part of the annual safety inspection. So you might want to check using this procedure before inspection, especially if you’ve upgraded your headlights.

Back to flush


E36 Headlight Adjustment

How to adjust entire assembly — what the service station did


E36 Beam Adjustment

How to adjust the projectors themselves


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