If you’re planning on driving from the UK over to Europe then one of your main concerns might be adjusting your headlights for continental driving.

The high cost of switching headlights
The cheaper, simpler alternative

car-motion-blur-300Driving in Europe is challenging for us Brits; especially if you’re driving the ‘wrong’ way down the road in a right-hand drive car!

It’s very disorienting to drive through roads where everything is on the opposite side – you have to keep an eye out for road signs and contend with traffic going the ‘wrong’ way at junctions and roundabouts are a nightmare when approached for the first time.

But there’s another, unexpected danger to driving on the wrong side of the road for a right-hand-drive car, particularly while driving at night…

How UK Headlights Work – The Beam Pattern

The distribution of light from low-beam headlights is actually asymmetrical.

The left-side headlight of your British car directs light forwards, whereas the right-side headlight dips the beam down and out across the road. This setup helps to illuminate obstructions and traffic signs on the left-hand side of the road, without dazzling drivers which are coming towards you on the right hand side.

headlight adjustment for europe

As you might expect, the asymmetrical light distribution is the opposite way around in Europe, so driving a UK right-hand-drive car without any adjustments on the continent is very dangerous; you’ll be blinding everyone in the oncoming lane!

Adjusting Headlights For Continental Driving

If you’re wondering what cars have switchable headlights then you might be disappointed with the results, because your car might not have that function.

Most UK cars with projector headlights can be switched from right hand drive, over to left hand drive.

There should be a switch or lever (sometimes a screw) inside the headlight unit that allows you to adjust the height of the beam pattern.

In modern cars, this might be done on your cars’ dashboard.

Some vehicles might not need adjusting at all. Some OEM (Factory Fitted) Xenon headlights are completely flat and will not cause any hazard to oncoming traffic no matter what country you are in. You would have to check your vehicle hand book to confirm this or contact your dealership directly.

Although it’s certainly not essential, you may want to approach your vehicle’s manufacturer and ask them to provide written proof that your OEM bulbs are legal for EU driving – this piece of paper can come in handy if the local police suspect your headlights and pull you over.

The Cost Of Switching To European Headlights?

If you’re vehicles’ headlights aren’t capable of changing from right hand drive to left hand drive then you might need to pay a lot of money to get this done.

Some dealerships or manufacturers might supply and fit European headlights for your vehicle but the cost can sometimes be unbelievable.

While there isn’t a direct list of prices because each vehicle is different, expect some quotes to range from £500 to £2,000.

Switchable Headlights? Just Use Beam Adaptors…

Headlight Beam Adaptors For Continental Driving

If your car is stuck with regular, non-adjustable headlamps, you can adjust them yourself with beam adaptor stickers – place these on to your headlights and deflect the beam away to ensure you are legal for European driving.

You can find headlight beam adaptors in the ABD store – they’re available on their own or included in our European driving kits, which provide all the essentials you need for motoring across Europe.

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