Of bright lights and erratic pulls

I drive a Toyota Corolla 2004 model. The problem I am experiencing is that my headlights are very bright when they are on dipped beam. The drivers of oncoming cars often flick me to reduce the intensity of my headlights.

I find this strange because I am already on "dim".

I retaliate by putting on bright-dim-bright-dim to show them that I am actually on dim. I checked the headlight bulbs and they are of the correct voltage. How should I solve this problem? There is no other switch inside anywhere on the dashboard to regulate the power of my beams.

- Pat


Pat, the problem is not that your headlights are too bright when you are on dim, but rather that the headlight beams are not aimed in the right direction when you dip the the lights.

Instead of the dipped beams being directed downward and slightly to the left to illuminate the road for a relatively short distance, they shine upwards and/or too far to the right, thus blinding oncoming drivers.

On your Corolla, two adjusting wheels are provided behind each headlight for the purpose of aiming the light.

They can be seen by opening the bonnet and looking at the back of the headlight assembly. The picture above shows such an adjuster. One of the adjusters controls the left-to-right aim of the light, the other changes the up-and-down aim.

An acceptable ballpark setting can be obtained by parking the car with its nose right up against a vertical surface like a wall or garage door. Make sure the fuel tank is at least half full so that the car is not in a tail-up attitude.

Switch on the dipped beams and mark the centre of the hot spot from each headlight with masking tape + on the wall or door.

Reverse the car straight back on a flat, level surface for about eight metres and check where the centre of each hot spot now falls. These should be about 50mm to the left and 50mm below the centre of the +.

Adjust accordingly if necessary. Alternatively, take your car to any roadworthy testing station and ask them to adjust the aim of the headlights, using their optical beamsetter. This is such a quick and easy operation for them that they might even do it for free.

I recently bought a VW Polo that is still under warranty. The car pulls to the left, even when I'm driving on a straight, level road. I mentioned this to the agents when I took the car for the first free service. A service adviser told me that the engine of the car was heavier on the left, which is why all Polos do this. Various friends have said that this cannot be true. I'd be glad to hear what you think of this explanation.


Rena, I can only presume that the conversation with the service adviser took place on April 1. It must have been his idea of an April Fool's joke, because it is so ludicrous as to warrant comment.

Assuming that you have checked for unequal tyre pressures (always the first thing to check if you experience a pull on the steering), the reason why your car pulls to the left is almost certainly because the wheel alignment at the front and/or rear is faulty.

Get the agents to take your car for a proper alignment check, and your problem should be at an end.

When the road has a small amount of camber for the purpose of water run-off, there will be a slight tendency for the steering to pull to the left, but it should be hardly noticeable.

On older cars, a steady pull on the steering can be caused by a variety of things - chassis misalignment, brake drag, tyre problems, etc. But none of these should apply to a new vehicle.