You probably don’t give much thought to your towing mirrors beyond putting them on at the start of a trip and taking them off when you unhitch your caravan. However, adjusting and using towing mirrors correctly is absolutely essential. Aside from being a legal requirement for most units, they make towing a lot safer for those in the towcar and for other road users. Most of us already use towing mirrors but many of us are guilty of adjusting them incorrectly. Here’s our guide to what you should see in your mirrors.
Adjusting your mirrors
Each mirror must be adusted individually. It is easier to get it right if you have someone move the mirror for you while you sit in your normal driving position. Also, have the caravan in as straight a line as possible behind the car. First ensure that your car’s wing mirrors are properly adjusted. You should be able to see your car’s front door handle in the near bottom corner of the mirror.
Attach your towing mirrors and swivel the towing mirror head horizontally until your caravan is visible in only the nearest quarter inch (6mm) of the mirror. You probably won’t be able to see the car at all. This will ensure that the view in the mirror is along the side and behind your caravan.
Then tilt the mirror head up or down until the grab handles of your caravan are in the middle of the near edge of each mirror. You should just be able to see the wheel arch at the bottom of the mirror as well. This will give you a good balance between seeing behind you when you are driving, and seeing your wheel arch when you are reversing.
Many people adjust their mirrors so they can see their van. You should actually use your mirrors to see the road behind your van. Another common mistake is to adjust the mirrors to see the caravan wheels for reversing. If your mirrors are correctly adjusted you should be able to use them for reversing without changing them for the purpose.
Never use odd mirrors. Different mirrors will give a distorted idea of distance, making objects in each mirror look further away or closer. A pair that is mismatched will be confusing. If you lose or break a mirror and cannot get an exact replacement, you should get a new set.
What makes a good mirror?
You’ll need to remove your towing mirrors once you have unhitched your van, so mirrors that are easy to attach and remove are best. A good towing mirror also shouldn’t affect the position of your towcar’s wing mirrors when it is in use.
You can get either flat or convex mirrors. Choosing which suits you better is a matter of personal preference, and it is best to stick with what you are used to. But if you are just starting out, we recommend flat mirrors as they give a truer picture of distance.
Towing mirrors – rights and wrongs
Perfect – you can see the grab handle and the wheel arch
Wrong – angled too far in, no view of the road
Wrong – angled too far out, you can’t see handle
Wrong – angled too high, you can’t see wheel arch