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Side mirrors play an important role in road safety as they provide drivers with an extended field of view. They enable drivers to see vehicles that aren’t in their direct line of sight. The use of side mirrors is critical when a driver is changing lanes on the highway, as they allow drivers to check if there are vehicles in the adjacent lane. Side mirrors are also indispensable when it comes to parking in tight spots, as drivers can avoid obstacles while reversing into a parking spot.

However, side mirrors can only extend a driver’s field of view if they’re adjusted properly. Unsure how to position your vehicle’s side mirrors? In this article, we’ll answer the question of how should a side mirror be adjusted and share other tips and tricks.

How To Adjust Side Mirrors

Adjusting your side mirrors is simple since most modern vehicles have buttons on their dashboard that allows the mirrors to adjust themselves with a motor. In older vehicles, there might be a knob or rod opposite where your side mirror is mounted. In even older vehicles, you might need to open your vehicle’s windows and move the glass directly.

Before you start adjusting your mirror, make sure your driver seat is in the correct position. Changing your seat’s position after adjusting the side mirrors will change your field of view, requiring you to readjust the side mirrors again. You can determine the correct seating position by sitting down and finding the position where the steering wheel is easy to hold and turn, while your feet are comfortably reaching the pedals.

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When adjusting your mirror, you should adjust it in a way where 90% or the majority of your mirror’s field of view is the road and traffic behind you. Your vehicle should only take up 10% or just a sliver of your mirror’s field of view.

For most people on the road, adjusting your side mirrors this way will give you a sufficiently wide field of view. But you can angle your side mirrors in a way that widens your field of view further.

A paper published by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) argues that drivers should angle their side mirrors in a way that completely obscures their vehicle’s sides, but just overlaps their view from the rear view mirror. This allows drivers to have a wider field of view and mitigate blind spots.

The only issue with the SAE-recommended mirror angle is that the driver will have to rely on the rear view mirror in the cabin to keep an eye on what is approaching from behind. The side mirrors will only show objects or vehicles in the area outside the perspective of the interior rear view mirror.

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Switching to this system might initially disorient drivers who aren’t used to not seeing their vehicle’s rear in their side mirrors. However, this removes the need to glance over one’s shoulder or rely on expensive blind-spot monitors.

How about the side mirror’s vertical angle? When you’re adjusting your side mirrors, where should the horizon be? You should adjust the side mirror vertically where the horizon is in the center of your side mirror. Assuming there are empty plains behind your vehicle and your vehicle is parallel with the road, you should see the road comprise the bottom half of your view, while the sky should take up the top half.

Do this for both side mirrors on the driver’s side and the passenger’s side. After you’ve adjusted all of the mirrors, sit in the driver’s seat and inspect each one, beginning with the driver’s side mirror. You should see behind your vehicle with just a glance.

How To Adjust the Rear View Mirror

Adjusting your rear view mirror is a much simpler process. First, sit in the correct driving position and look at your rear view mirror. Move your mirror until you have a clear view of your rear windshield. Your rear view mirror should be angled to allow you to have a clear view out of your rear windshield without having to move your head or body.

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Remember that driving your vehicle after you’ve changed its mirror’s angles might take some getting used to, especially if you’ve widened the field of view of your side mirrors. Depending on how drastic the changes are, this process can take anywhere between a few minutes to several hours.

These mirror adjustments are critical regardless of how far you’re traveling. So, don’t be afraid to adjust the side mirrors of a friend’s vehicle, even if you’re only driving for a short distance.

If your friend’s car mirrors are adjusted incorrectly, you should take the opportunity to explain how to properly adjust their side and rear view mirrors. Doing so might save them from an accident where they don’t see an object or vehicle in their blind spot.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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