What Are Tow Mirrors and Why Do You Need Them?

What Are Tow Mirrors and Why Do You Need Them


Tow mirrors… ever heard of ’em? Well, if you’re stepping into the realm of towing travel trailers or anything sizeable with your vehicle, the question isn’t “what are tow mirrors”, but rather, “do I need tow mirrors”? The answer, dear reader, is a resounding yes.

These aren’t just any mirrors—they are your eyes when the rear view is about as clear as mud. Picture this: you’re towing a camper that’s acting like it ate too much over the holidays. It’s wide, and your standard side mirrors just aren’t cutting it. Enter tow mirrors.

Now, what are tow mirrors exactly? They are the extended eyes that help you see around that bulky trailer, giving you a full view and making sure that every turn, every stop, isn’t a game of Russian roulette with nearby objects and vehicles. And trust me, driving blind is about as advisable as using a plastic knife in a sword fight.

Understanding the Function of Tow Mirrors in Towing Setups

So, let’s get down to brass tacks. You’ve got a hefty trailer, and your standard mirrors are throwing in the towel. That’s where trailer tow mirrors come in. They extend your field of view, making sure you’re not just seeing the side of your trailer and praying for the best every time you switch lanes or turn.

And let’s face it, we’ve all been there—stuck behind a trailer that’s swerving like a toddler on a sugar rush because the driver’s playing a guessing game. What are tow mirrors if not your first line of defense against becoming “that driver”?

These trusty sidekicks come in two flavors: manual tow mirrors and power tow mirrors. The manual guys are like your reliable, old-school buddy—they get the job done without any frills. Power tow mirrors are the techy friends who’ve got gadgets and gizmos aplenty, offering things like heating and electric adjustment.

Types of Tow Mirrors

As we delve deeper into the world of tow mirrors, it’s crucial to remember that not all mirrors are made equal. So, how to use tow mirrors effectively largely depends on which type you choose. Just like picking shoes for a specific occasion, the types of tow mirrors you select must be the right fit for your vehicle.

The manual tow mirrors, as we’ve touched on briefly, are straightforward. No power, no fancy tricks – you adjust them by hand. They’re like the reliable, old-school watch you inherit – does its job and does it well. On the other end of the spectrum, we have power tow mirrors. Ever wanted a mirror that adjusts at the push of a button, or even heats up on those frosty mornings? Well, that’s what power tow mirrors bring to the table. They connect to your vehicle’s wiring, providing functionality like turning signals, heating, and sometimes even puddle lights.

Type of Tow MirrorFeaturesApplications
Manual Towing MirrorsAdjusted manuallyBasic option for improved rear vision
Power Towing MirrorsElectronically adjustableConvenient for easy adjustment while towing
Telescopic/Extendable MirrorsExtendable designProvides increased rearward vision
Clip-On Towing MirrorsClips onto existing side mirrorsEasy to install and remove, suitable for occasional towing
Directional/Turn Signal MirrorsIntegrated turn signalsEnhances visibility and safety during lane changes
Heated Towing MirrorsEquipped with heating elementsEffective for defrosting and removing fog or ice
Puddle Light MirrorsIncludes built-in lights for ground illuminationHelps prevent stepping into water or debris at night
Custom Slip-On MirrorsTailored fit for specific makes and modelsEnsures secure attachment to existing mirrors
Universal Fit MirrorsCompatible with various vehicle typesOffers versatility and can fit different vehicles
Extendable/Telescoping MirrorsAdjustable length for varying towing needsIdeal for adapting to different size of the trailer

Exploring the Benefits of Tow Mirrors for Safe Towing

Remember that time you were trying to park in a tight campsite with your camper, and you thought to yourself, “Do I need towing mirrors?” The answer should always be a resounding yes. When it comes to the best towing mirrors, the benefits are aplenty. Increased visibility, better awareness of your surroundings, and a broader field of view are just the tip of the iceberg.

With tow mirrors, you not only see the rear of your trailer, but you also get a clearer view of the traffic beside and behind you. Think of them as your trusty sidekicks in ensuring safe towing. These mirrors substantially reduce the dreaded blind spot, giving you peace of mind on the road. After all, isn’t it better to see that motorcycle beside your trailer than to guess where it is? And yes, for the sake of other road users and your precious rig, always ensure your mirrors are appropriately adjusted.

towing mirror

Factors to Consider When Selecting Tow Mirrors

Now, diving into the buying phase, there’s more to consider than just “What are power tow mirrors vs. manual?” There’s the matter of fitment – ensuring the tow mirrors you buy snugly fit your vehicle. It’s like getting a suit tailored – a perfect fit is essential.

Then comes the material. Many mirrors come with durable plastic housing, but it’s always a good idea to ensure they’re robust enough to withstand the elements. Additionally, ponder on whether you prefer a telescopic mirror or a fixed one. And let’s not forget about the attachment method. Some tow mirrors clip on, while others replace the entire side view mirror. It’s a lot to mull over, but don’t fret. With a bit of research and perhaps a YouTube tutorial or two, you’ll be set.

Installation Guide: How to Properly Attach Tow Mirrors?

Installation… Ah, the part where many of us think, “Maybe I should’ve paid someone to do this.” But, hang tight! Installing tow mirrors doesn’t have to be a brain-buster. The first step is always ensuring you’ve got the right fit for your vehicle. Trust me, trying to fit a square peg in a round hole is never fun.

For add-on tow mirrors, you’ll often just clip or strap them onto your existing side view mirrors. Simple, right? But for the full replacement types, you might need to get into the door panel. Don’t worry; I promise it’s less daunting than it sounds. A screwdriver, some patience, maybe a YouTube guide, and you’ll have those mirrors on in no time. And for those with power tow mirrors, ensure your vehicle’s wiring and power mirror switch are compatible.

Tow Mirrors vs. Standard Side Mirrors

At first glance, you might think, “A mirror’s a mirror, right?” Well, not quite. Think of it as comparing a telescope to binoculars. Both serve a purpose, but one gives you a bit more “oomph” in certain situations.

The key difference lies in the field of view. Standard side mirrors, or as some say, “those things that tell me how my hair looks,” are designed to give you a view directly adjacent to your vehicle. Now, tow mirrors, they’re the beefier cousins. They reach out further and show you not only the side of your trailer but also what’s lurking behind it. And when you’re towing a hefty RV or trailer, that’s a game-changer. Suddenly, merging lanes or parking doesn’t feel like you’re performing a circus act. The advantages? More confidence on the road, fewer close calls, and let’s face it, fewer annoyed drivers behind you.

FeaturesTow MirrorsStandard Side Mirrors
SizeLarger and extend further outSmaller and closer to the vehicle
Field of ViewIncreased rearward visibilityLimited rearward visibility
Blind Spot CoverageMinimizes blind spots while towingPotential blind spots during towing
Towing SafetyEnhanced safety for towing operationsLimited visibility for towing maneuvers
AdjustableManual or power adjustment optionsManual adjustment options
CompatibilityDesigned specifically for towing needsGeneral-purpose mirrors for everyday use
Legal RequirementsComplies with state towing mirror regulationsMeets minimum legal requirements for non-towing use
VersatilitySome models offer additional featuresLimited functionality beyond basic visibility
Ease of InstallationVarious options, including clip-on or replacement mirrorsAlready installed on most vehicles
Aesthetic AppealMay have a bulkier appearanceSeamless integration with vehicle design

Legal Requirements: State Regulations for Towing Mirrors

Ah, regulations. While not the most riveting topic, it’s crucial to know the rules. Did you know that in many places, if your trailer obscures your vehicle’s rear view, you’re legally required to have tow mirrors? Yep, it’s not just about “Do I need tow mirrors?” but also “Am I breaking the law without them?”

Different states have varied requirements, so it’s wise to check local regulations, especially if you’re planning a cross-country adventure. In some areas, just the fact that your trailer is wider than your tow vehicle mandates the use of tow mirrors. So, to stay on the right side of the law and ensure safe towing, it’s essential to get acquainted with the rules.

tow mirror

Tips and Tricks for Adjusting and Using Tow Mirrors Effectively

So, you’ve taken the plunge and got yourself those sleek tow mirrors. But here’s the thing: installing them is just the beginning. The real magic lies in adjusting them just right. Start by parking your vehicle on a flat surface, and if you can, have your trailer hitched up. This gives you a real-time view of what you need to see. Aim to have a clear view of your trailer’s entire side and a bit of the road behind it. While it might seem straightforward, keep in mind that tow mirrors aren’t your everyday side mirrors; they stretch out more, giving you a broader perspective. Now, here’s a nugget of wisdom from the pros: always keep an eye on your mirrors while driving. Road conditions, be it gusty winds or bumpy terrains, can cause them to move out of place. Regularly checking and adjusting ensures you’re not caught off guard. After all, even the finest tow mirrors can’t help if they aren’t aligned correctly. So, invest a few moments to get them spot on, and you’re in for a smoother, safer journey.

Final Thoughts

As we wrap up our exploration of tow mirrors, it’s clear that these aren’t just simple accessories. They’re essential tools for anyone serious about towing. We’ve journeyed from the basics to the nitty-gritty details, and I hope you feel more enlightened. So, the next time you’re gearing up to hitch your trailer or RV, give a nod to those trusty tow mirrors. They’re there to ensure you have a clear view, a safe drive, and peace of mind. Here’s to many safe and scenic journeys ahead!