It never ceases to amaze me how many tow cars I see without towing mirrors.
People will happily spend thousands on a caravan, yet won’t invest in a set of towing mirrors. Over the years, we have owned numerous outfits, and adding to that the 500 or so I’ve driven at the Tow Car Awards, there’s not one that I remember that hasn’t required towing mirrors to be fitted.
I’m not just talking about caravans with 2.5m-wide bodies (I’ve towed relatively few of those); the huge majority have been standard-width models. Nor am I speaking about only towing with narrow cars – our own tow car is a Land Rover Discovery, which could hardly be classed as narrow.
The law states that you must be able to see along the sides of the caravan and 4 metres either side, at a distance of 20m behind the driver.
In simple terms, from the driving seat, you must be able to see both rear corners of the caravan. In even moire simple terms, if your caravan is wider than your tow car, you must use towing mirrors.
That is a legal requirement, and you could face a £1000 fine (per mirror) and three penalty points (per mirror) on you licence for failing to comply. That’s a tad more than even the most expensive towing mirrors! However, this is not just a question of legality, but also road safety. If you are not able to see the car following you (possibly a bit too closely) which pulls out to overtake, and you pull out at the same time, there could be serious consequences. Using towing mirrors, you should already be aware that it’s there.
New mirrors – Milenco Grand Aero Platinum
I recently became aware of a new towing mirror, the Grand Aero Platinum, being launched by Milenco, so was interested to find out more about them.
I spoke to company founder and MD, Nigel Milbank. Anyone who knows Nigel will tell you that he is passionate about the firm’s products, and they go to enormous lengths to get them right first time.
Grand Aero Platinum mirrors are supplied as a ‘one size fits all’, so the arms are one length (suitable for both standard and 2.5m-wide caravans) and much thicker than those of the Grand Aero, theoretically giving more stability and less vibration. There is no longer a choice of flat or convex glass; they come as standard with glass that’s the same as that of most cars, and thus named ‘automotive glass’.
The biggest development, though is in the clamps. They now have a flexible rubber grip around a stainless-steel spring pad, with a larger footprint than previous incarnations, to fit just about any vehicle.
During product development, “Thousands of miles of testing, with more than 30 prototypes, was carried out,” Nigel told me.
“We had five designs of stainless-steel spring pads in four different thicknesses, and tried multiple rubber pad designs, assessing compounds and hardness, testing them from frozen Norway to baking Australia for durability and corrosion,” he added.
Nigel very kindly sent me a set of the Grand Aero Platinum mirrors for an honest review.
My first impressions were that everything he had told me about the construction was indeed the case – thicker arms and bigger clamps, as well as the slightly bigger heads.
Fitting and set up
Fitting and setting up the Grand Aero Platinum mirrors is straightforward, provided you follow the instructions.
- Remove the clamps from the arms as supplied.
- Attach mirror heads to arms using the screws.
- Ensure the car’s mirror housing is clean.
- Loosen both thumb wheels on each clamp.
- Slide the thin wedge of the clamp under the top of the car mirror’s housing as far as it will go and as near to the vehicle as possible. Tighten the thumb wheel to secure the clamp.
- Put the second clamp as near to the edge of the car’s mirror housing as possible, and secure.
- Ideally, the mirror arms need to be as horizontal as possible. You can achieve this by rotating the arm clamps either up or down. In our case, the inner one was pointing down, while the outer one pointed up.
- Slide the arms into the clamps, making sure the clamps don’t move where they’re attached to the mirror housing, and then tighten the arm clamps.
- For the next step, you’ll need to align/hitch your car with your caravan.
- With the outfit perfectly straight and the mirror attached (and the mirror heads adjusted), check that you can see comfortably along the sides of the van to the rear corners.
- If so, they’ll need little or no further adjustment. But if not, loosen the arm clamps and slide the arms out to a position where you can. It might be that you need to move the inner clamp towards the outer edge of the car’s mirror housing to achieve this.
- Ideally, half of the mirrors should be filled with the front of the caravan and the other half with the view to the side of it. This should be the same for both sides.
- Check all clamps are secure.
I’m pleased to say that during a road test, the mirrors proved very stable, with minimal vibration. Of course, towing mirrors are only as stable as the housings they’re attached to, but I could see the road (and the traffic) behind very clearly. I also tried them on another car with the same result, so at the end of the test I was very impressed.
If you already have a good set of mirrors, I’m not suggesting you rush out and buy the Grand Aero Platinum mirrors, but if yours don’t tick all the boxes, or you’re looking to upgrade, I can recommend them, especially if you’re considering towing a 2.5m-wide caravan.
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From the driving seat, you must be able to see both rear corners of the caravan. If your caravan is wider than your tow car, you must use towing mirrors