How To Adjust Your Car Mirrors

Nancy Shepherd
November 2011

Source: Squidoo

Eliminate Those Blind Spots!

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Here’s a tip to make driving easier and safer. Learn how to adjust your side mirrors to eliminate those dangerous blind spots!

Have you ever been surprised on the interstate by a car coming up alongside you that you didn’t know was there? How confident are you when changing lanes? Do you worry about backing into something because you just can’t see well enough behind you? Did you know there’s a system to adjust your car’s mirrors that will eliminate those problems?

Follow these steps to adjust your car (or truck) mirrors so you won’t have to worry about those blind spots while you’re driving. You’ll be able to see everything going on behind and beside you at all times. What a relief to have the confidence to maneuver your vehicle safely! (And yes, these are my mirrors — I drive a hippy van.)

Photos of mirrors © Nancy Shepherd

What’s Wrong With My Mirrors?

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Almost everyone I know has the side mirrors on their cars adjusted wrong. Invariably, the mirrors are set to provide a view down the sides of the car. Now why would you need to see the sides of your car while you’re driving? If anything is that close to you, it’s too late anyway! The things you need to see are a bit farther away; you want to see them before they are against the side of your car.

I admit, I used to set my mirrors exactly the same way. I just cast a glance over my shoulder to see what was coming, though it never felt safe to do so. All that changed when I started driving my cargo van. Suddenly I couldn’t see out the sides anymore. I was terrified the first time I drove it on the interstate — I was afraid to change lanes because I didn’t know what might be coming up beside me. Then I learned the solution to those blind spots from Click and Clack — Tom and Ray Magliozzi — on their radio show “Car Talk.”

Adjust Your Left Mirror

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Sit straight in the driver’s seat and look in your left mirror. You should not see your vehicle. Lean your head over against the window and adjust the mirror so you can see the side of your car from this position.

Adjust Your Right Mirror

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Now sit up straight and look in your right mirror. Again, you should not see your vehicle. Lean your head toward the center of the car and adjust the mirror so you can see the side of your car toward the back end.

You probably have a wide-angle mirror on the right. That’s important because you need a wider field of vision on the right side. If you drive a 20-year-old vehicle like I do, you might have just a plain mirror. Get yourself one of those small convex “fish-eye” mirrors and stick it on the lower outside corner of the mirror to further eliminate blind spots and increase your safety.

Fine Tuning Your Mirrors

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Now go for a test drive. It’s safest to do this on a quiet road, but you’ll get better test conditions on an interstate. Drive slow and let people pass you. As the passing car begins to leave your rearview mirror, it should be entering the left mirror. Before it leaves your left mirror, it should be visible in your side window. You should be able to see that car the entire time.

Now you pass someone and watch as that slowpoke slides from your right window, to your right side mirror, to your rearview. If this does not match what you see, move the mirrors in or out until it does.

Practice

As with any new skill, you’ll need to practice, practice, practice. It may feel odd to use your mirrors this way, but if Click and Clack say something, it must be true. Seriously, though, once you adjust your mirrors to eliminate those blind spots, your driving will be easier and you will be much safer.

Stay Safe In Your Car

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