Car: 2012 Subaru Outback.

After years the factory bulbs were dim. I got them replaced (by a dealer, because the procedure is a pain for this car) and I resurfaced the outside of the glass, which looks really good now. The new bulbs seem brighter... somewhat. From inside the cockpit at night, the left bulb appears very bright and the right bulb is almost invisible. I basically feel like I have a spotlight aimed to the left. There is a very distinct diagonal line coming out the front of my car aimed at 11 o'clock or so. But more bewildering is that if I get out of the car and stand in front, and then do a slow squat from head height to very low, both lights appear to go from dim to bright at exactly the same parts of the squat, suggesting that they're aimed the same, as they should be.

See attached image for how it looks at night from inside... note that this was taken from the center of the cockpit, not from the driver's seat. Notice how dim the right edge of the photo looks compared to the left. I'll be taking it back to the dealer soon to see what they say, but I'm curious what ideas might come out here.

enter image description here

  • 1
    Have you tried covering each lamp to verify that all the light on the left is coming from the left lamp?
    – HandyHowie
    Aug 27, 2019 at 8:33
  • 2
    Have you had the bulb alignment checked? Aug 27, 2019 at 9:38
  • 1
    Agree with @motosubatsu's question ... it appears to me the right light may be pointing off to the left, covering the same basic area as the left one. Aug 27, 2019 at 17:31
  • I'm sure that will get checked by the dealer tomorrow. But it's still weird to me that when I stand in front perfectly centered, the lights both appear equally bright to me, implying they're aimed the same way. I'd think if both lights were aiming left, the right one would appear brighter from the front when I am standing centered.
    – The111
    Aug 27, 2019 at 18:45

2 Answers 2


The best way to see if your headlights are pointing the same direction is to find a wall in a parking lot at night, and with your car facing the wall, drive roughly 25 feet back. You want your car to be perfectly perpendicular to the wall.

Place a piece of tape on the wall which marks the center (between drive and passenger) of your car. This should make it fairly easy to see if your headlights are not pointed the same direction. Cover up one headlight with a thick piece of paper to make it easy to see where the other is pointing.

As Paulster2 said, it definitely looks like your left headlight is pointed more at the ground. Generally, you want the center of the beam (on the wall) to be directly in front of the headlight, and at the same height. In other words, both headlights should be pointing straight ahead.

(The image below is from Autozone)

Image from Autozone

  • It was definitely the aim. Dealer fixed it. Not sure which one was off and how, I suspect the right bulb was aimed too far left. But +1 for this answer with the good pic.
    – The111
    Aug 29, 2019 at 18:19

Carefully, and without touching the glass with your fingers.. Also check that the bulbs are inserted correctly. A bulb not located properly into the rear of its headlamp unit will have a very poor and misdirected beam.

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