Towing mirrors are extra rear view mirrors with adjustable extensions that give you a view of what’s behind your trailer, but their importance simply can’t be overstated.
Your safety while driving on the road is highly dependent on being able to see around and behind you, and having a trailer or another vehicle taking up the view from the rear will create huge and dangerous blind spots that your regular rear view mirrors simply can’t cope with.
Most towing mirrors are adjustable such that you can get a clear view of the trailer attached to your vehicle, even if you are pulling a load that’s a good deal wider than the width of your car or truck.
With a good set of towing mirrors, you will be able to see the sides of your trailer as well as what’s coming up behind it, which gives you a lot more information compared to relying on the diminished view that the factory side mirrors can give you in these situations.
Depending on the region you are driving in, towing mirrors can save you from being pulled over, too.
Many areas prohibit drivers from pulling a trailer without an adequate set of rear view mirrors installed on their vehicles – in some states in the US, for example, you are required by law to have towing mirrors that give you a view of at least 200 feet to the rear of your trailer.
The wider your trailer is, the longer or larger the towing mirrors that you need to have that blind spot covered. Fortunately, trailer drivers now have a wide range of OEM and aftermarket towing mirrors they can choose from to suit their towing habits as well as the vehicles and trailers they drive on the road.
There is a wide variety of towing mirrors you can choose from in today’s market. Not too long ago, towing mirrors used to be available only as aftermarket accessories.
Nowadays, vehicle manufacturers have realized that there is a strong demand for trailer and towing accessories, and now they have also started offering OEM towing mirror accessories and factory side mirror replacements as well.
What Are The Different Types Of Towing Mirrors?
We’ve covered the main function of towing mirrors, but what sort of mirrors are out there?
Clip-On Mirrors: The simplest types of towing mirrors are the mirror mounted types, and these are basic secondary mirrors you can install on the sides of your existing factory side mirrors. Once in place, you not only have more side mirrors, you also have two of them sticking out to the side to give you a wider field of view of your rear.
These simple mirror mounted towing mirrors are some of the most common towing mirrors you would find on sale as aftermarket towing accessories. One main advantage of these towing mirrors is the way you can quickly install them to your existing side mirrors without the use of tools – many of them can quickly go on factory side mirrors using simple clamps, straps or clips.
They are the towing mirrors of choice for those who favor flexibility and portability. If you are towing a trailer or a vehicle that’s much wider than your car or truck, then you can simply bring these mirror mounted towing mirrors out, securely attach them to your mirrors, and you’re ready to go on your way.
Another plus for mirror mounted towing mirrors is that since they go directly on your side mirrors, you have easy access to them from inside your vehicle. You can easily swivel and rotate them to give you the perfect angle for the most visibility, and when you need to clean them off for whatever reason, you can easily do so from your seat.
Mirror mounted towing mirrors are easy to install and adjust, but they do have a few drawbacks. Since they are designed to go on your existing side mirrors, they use small clips and straps to hold them in place without obstructing the factory mirrors too much.
As a result, mirror mounted towing mirrors are not the sturdiest of accessories around. Some factory side mirrors may also be unsuitable for this type of towing mirrors as well. Finally, mirror mounted towing mirrors are fairly limited in terms of size since they can’t be made to be much larger than regular side mirrors, after all.
If you need larger towing mirrors, or you need them to extend much further than your factory side mirrors can reach, then you may want to consider other types of towing mirrors.
Door Mounted Mirrors: Door mounted towing mirrors, on the other hand, are mounted to the vehicle door as the name suggests. They use larger straps and sturdier brackets, and thus they offer added stability compared to the mirror mounted varieties.
If you’re a fan of larger side mirrors, then you will appreciate the wider size selection that door mounted towing mirrors can offer you. And since these towing mirrors are still installed on the side of your vehicle doors, then they are still within reach from the driver and passenger seats for quick adjustments.
Door mounted towing mirrors need more time to set up compared to mirror mounted and clip-on towing mirrors, and they are also a good deal bulkier. Some vehicle owners may also find the huge door straps or suction pads used by door mounted towing mirrors to be too distracting, too.
Bonnet and roof mounted towing mirrors are also available, and just like door mounted towing mirrors, they offer additional stability compared to the mirror mounted models.
These used to be a more popular alternative, at least until newer door mounted and mirror mounted towing mirrors finally struck a good balance between stability and weight. Bonnet mounted towing mirrors extend too far forward and you won’t be able to reach them to adjust from your seat – again another reason that these types of towing mirrors have fallen out of favor.
These are the portable types of towing mirrors, and they are a great choice for anyone who tows trailers once in a while and looking for a removable solution. If you do spend a lot of time driving with a trailer hitched to your car or truck, then you may be on the market for a more permanent set of towing mirrors.
Side mirror replacements are available which will more or less permanently increase the range of your side mirrors. They require tools to install, and they can be more expensive compared to temporary solutions. They do offer the best stability and convenience you can find in a set of towing mirrors, and if you spend a good amount of your time towing, then they can be very much worth it.
Towing mirrors that replace your factory side mirrors can also offer nifty features that you will appreciate. You can get standard fixed towing mirrors, and you can also get ones that telescope in or out, which can be useful if you like to switch between a narrower profile or extended side mirrors for towing.
You can now also get towing mirrors that have their own turn signal lights, or ones that come with integrated heaters to keep them from getting frosted over.
What Is the Purpose of Towing Mirrors?
The default side mirrors you have on your car or truck are good for covering the sides of your vehicle, but they will have huge blind spots once you have a trailer or another vehicle hitched behind.
You need side mirrors that extend longer than the widest points of your trailer, so you have complete visibility of the sides of your trailer and what is going on behind it. A set of towing mirrors, once properly installed and adjusted, will give you those crucial viewing angles to eliminate dangerous blind spots whenever you are towing.
Towing mirrors obviously help to keep you and your fellow drivers on the road safe as you are driving down the road with your trailer in tow. You will also fully appreciate having a good set of towing mirrors if you ever need to back up with your trailer, as well – it’s in these situations that the improved viewing angles can make a huge difference.
Towing mirrors are also a legal requirement in many regions, and you can get in trouble if you get on the road with a trailer in tow if you don’t have a set of towing mirrors properly installed.
It’s always a good idea to read up on the specific regulations for your area, and those of the place you plan to drive your trailer to. If your region requires towing drivers to have towing mirrors installed, it’s likely that the regulations will require that they provide visibility to at least 200 feet behind the vehicle.
Finally, some towing mirrors can do more than just give you extra visibility. Depending on the type of towing mirror you have installed, you can also use them as extra turn lights and brake lights. Towing mirrors can also link to your car electrics so you can have the same features as power mirrors – motorized adjustment, heating and defogging, or even automatic anti-glare.