DIY

Adjust Your Mirrors to Work in Harmony

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Remember the scene in Jurassic Park when the T-Rex was chasing down the Jeep Wrangler? The words “objects in the mirror are closer than they appear” takes a wise crack at the scene as it reflects the T-Rex in hot pursuit. Side mirrors are used for more than seeing what prehistoric creature is chasing you. They make us aware of the area behind the vehicle, keeping us safe from blindly running into oncoming traffic. Your two side mirrors and rear view mirror should work in harmony eliminating most of blind spots around your car. We’ll walk you through how to get the three of them working together.

Mirrors

The rear view mirror and the left and right side mirrors give a complete 180-degree viewing field of what is behind your car. The rearview mirror can be adjusted by hand while the side mirrors can be power adjustable. Older luxury cars had power adjusting rearview mirrors but were later removed because of how expensive they were to fix. Old cars with manual side mirrors have little joystick-like adjusters mounted on the door. This was difficult to adjust because you would need lots of guesswork when you reach across the car to adjust the right hand side mirror.

All three mirrors have grown technologically advanced making it safer than ever to operate a vehicle. Side mirrors can be optioned to have built-in heating to melt ice and snow and also to clear the mirror after it rains. Rear view mirrors have sensors built in to sense if another vehicle is shining their headlights on bright. The rear view mirror gets a shade of blue to reduce the risk of the light reflecting into your eyes.

It’s easy to adjust the rearview mirror as it can be done by hand. But it’s important its setting reflects as much of the rear as possible.

Driving with new mirror settings can take some getting used to. Before driving on public roads, take time to drive up and down a street with a few cars, or even an open parking lot just to get used to them.

Rearview Mirror

  1. Sit in your normal driving position.
  2. Adjust the mirror with your hand to reflect the outside of the rear windshield.

NOTE: The whole rear portion of your car should be seen in a glance. If the window is too small make sure that the mirror is reflecting as much of the rear as possible.

Side Mirror 

Left Side

  1. Get your head as close as you can to the window, even to the point that your cheek is pressed up against the window.
  2. Adjust your mirror so that the inner right side of the lens only shows a little bit of the rear panels of your car.
  3. Adjust the centerline of your mirror lens with the horizon.

Right Side

  1. Lean over the center console and align your head with the center of the rearview mirror.
  2. Adjust your mirror so that the inner left side of the lens only shows a little bit of the rear panels of your car.
  3. Adjust the centerline of your mirror lens with the horizon.
Thanks to technology, the side view mirror can now be power-adjusted and may come with a built-in heating feature.

To see if your adjustments have worked, use a parked vehicle as reference. Park your car diagonally from it. You should be able to see the parked vehicle on your rearview mirror and partially on your side mirror.

Adjusting your mirrors in this manner avoids blind spots. Cars changing lanes should be reflected from one mirror to another without a lapse in the reflection. If your side mirrors have been damaged or replaced, ensure that they were replaced with an OEM mirror. Magnification in knock-off mirrors are not consistent and can disorient a driver.

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CarParts.com

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In the Garage with CarParts.com is an online blog dedicated to bringing DIYers and devoted car enthusiasts up to date with topical automotive news and lifestyle content. Our writers live and breathe automotive, taking the guess work out of car repairs with how-to content that helps owners get back on the road and keep driving.

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