What is a Headlight Aiming Screen?

A headlight aiming screen is a tool that helps a technician properly aim the headlight beams of a vehicle. It is a flat, translucent screen that is placed in front of the headlight. A technician uses a special tool to adjust the headlight until the beam is properly aligned.

The screen's purpose is to create a uniform surface for the headlight beam to reflect off of. This ensures that the beam is properly focused and does not produce a "hotspot" in the center of the beam pattern.

Types of Headlight Aiming Screen

Most headlight aiming screens are made from a material that is similar to that of a projector screen. This material is able to evenly diffract the light from the headlight, creating a consistent and even surface for the beam to reflect off of.

The screens are typically made in a variety of sizes to accommodate different headlight sizes. Many screens also come with a variety of different aiming patterns printed on them. These patterns help the technician properly align the headlight beam without having to guess at the correct position.

Headlight aiming screens are available at most auto parts stores. They are also available online. There are a few different types of headlight aiming screens available on the market. The three most common types are:

  • Plastic/Cardboard Screen
  • Metal Screen
  • Glass Screen

These screens have a hole in the center that is the same size as a headlight. The headlight is placed in the hole, and the screen is placed in front of the headlight. The light from the headlight will shine through the hole to be projected onto the screen in a specific pattern. This pattern will show where the light from the headlight should be aimed.

Headlight Aiming Screen

Rudimentary and Handcrafted Aiming Screen

Although most people prefer to purchase a kit that includes the screen, a mounting bracket, and a set of instructions, you can make your own screen using a piece of translucent plastic and some tape.

If you choose to make your own headlight aiming screen, the first step is to cut a piece of translucent plastic to the desired size. Next, use tape to attach the plastic to the headlight. Make sure that the plastic is flat and that there are no wrinkles in it.

Once the plastic is in place, you will need to adjust the headlight until the beam is properly aligned. To do this, you will need to use a headlight aiming tool. This tool is a small, handheld device that has a light on one end and a mirror on the other.

To use the headlight aiming tool, first, turn on the headlight. Then, hold the tool in front of the headlight so that the light is shining on the screen. Next, move the device until the beam is aligned correctly. Once the beam is properly aligned, you can turn off the headlight and remove the screen.

Factors to Consider While Buying a Headlight Aiming Screen

Space

The quantity of space necessary for the screen is one of the first factors you must address when assessing if a headlight aiming screen is acceptable for operation. According to the SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers), the screen should be at least 10' wide and tall enough to accommodate all headlights (approximately 5'). You also need to consider what type of headlight (LED, HID, Halogen, etc.) will be aimed at the screen.

Floor

You must have roughly 45' of level floor area, with space on the end wall for the targeting screen. This distance is calculated by requiring the screen to be 25' from the headlights and allowing 20' for vehicle length (25'+20' = 45').

The floor must be perfectly flat, level, and straight over the whole 45' length of the aiming bay, as well as at 90 degrees to the wall. Any variation will cause the vertical aim to be too high or too low.

Procedures to Follow

The vehicle must be 90° aligned with the targeting screen. Any divergence from this will cause a left-right shift in headlight aim. This alignment is tough since the car must be precisely 25' away from the screen in addition to being 90 degrees away from it.

Most people do this by drawing a straight line on the floor that is 90 degrees from the screen. They next drive the automobile on the line such that both the front and back tires are precisely aligned on the line.

A vertical and horizontal line on the screen must be aligned perfectly with the center of the car's right and left headlights. Although matching horizontal lines is simple, aligning vertical lines is significantly more challenging.

This step requires your patience, accuracy, and experience since the screen is 25' from the bulb and there is no reference point to measure from (unlike the floor for the horizontal line), and deviance will result in misaligned headlamps.

When all three lines are properly adjusted on the screen, the screen is ready to point to the headlights. After the screen is set up, it is good to repeat the measurements to ensure their consistency and reliability.

The targeting screen works very well if all measurements are appropriately executed and transmitted to the wall screen. You then simply look at the beam pattern on the wall and aim it with the lines on the screen as reference points.

Final Notes

The advantage of a wall screen is its low cost. However, you must select based on your requirements. Canbuilt's Panther V3 and V5, the Smart-O-Liner, the Smart-O-Liner II, and the Fuzion are all used in the auto industry to check the accuracy of the aim of the headlights.

The V3 and V5 models are used to ensure that the headlights are at the correct angle and distance from the ground. The Smart-O-Liner is used to check the accuracy of the aim of the headlights. The Smart-O-Liner II is used for a complete check of the accuracy of the aim of the headlights.

The Fuzion is used for a complete check of the accuracy of the aim of the headlights. The A-200 from Tridon is another handheld, battery-operated optical headlight aimer. It uses an LED light to show you where the headlight beam should be aimed.

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