A good tow mirror is essential for safe and efficient towing. When you choose the right tow mirror, it will make every towing task easier.
What Are Tow Mirrors?
Tow mirrors are mirrors designed for the purpose of towing a trailer. They extend out farther from your vehicle than regular mirrors so that they give you an increased rearward view of your tow trailer. The advantages of equipping your vehicle with tow trailers include:
- Better Visibility – Towing mirrors reduce your blind spots, so you can have a better view of the road behind you and on the sides of your trailer.
- Safer Towing – When you have a better view of your trailer, you can tell if it’s swaying or if any of your cargo isn’t properly secured.
- Maneuverability – Tow mirrors can make it easier to hitch your trailer, drive in reverse when it’s attached to your vehicle, and park when your trailer is hitched.
- Peace of Mind – When you have a better view of what’s going on behind you with your tow trailer, you’ll be able to drive and tow with more confidence.
- Legal Requirements – Most states require you to have tow mirrors if you’re towing a large trailer. Equipping your vehicle with tow mirrors will ensure that you’re towing legally.
Types of Tow Mirrors
Manufacturers offer several types of tow mirrors. The type that’s ideal for you depends on your specific needs.
Manual Tow Mirrors
Manual tow mirrors are typically the most basic and least expensive type of tow mirror. Because manual tow mirrors don’t have any wiring, they’re pretty easy to install.
Power Tow Mirrors
Power tow mirrors are similar in design to manual tow mirrors with the exception of their electrical wires and electronic components. The wires connect to the power mirror switch in your vehicle’s door. Even though they have wiring, power tow mirrors are relatively easy to install.
Telescoping Tow Mirrors
With telescoping tow mirrors, you can adjust the length of the mirror. Extend them when you’re towing. When you’re not towing, you can shorten them to standard length. You can operate a telescoping tow mirror with a power switch or manually. A power telescoping mirror extends and retracts with the touch of a button. Some drivers like telescoping mirrors because they can make a truck or SUV look bigger.
Directional Tow Mirrors
Directional tow mirrors, also known as turn signal tow mirrors, feature turn signals that are either built into the mirror glass or into the plastic housing. Some directional tow mirrors also feature puddle lights and heating functionality. The more functions a directional tow mirror has, the more expensive it is. Depending on what kind of truck you drive, a directional tow mirror can be fairly complicated to install.
Clip-On Tow Mirrors
As the name suggests, clip-on mirrors clip on to your vehicle. They’re an excellent option if you don’t tow that often. You can easily remove them when you’re not towing. You can also transfer them from one vehicle to another. While they might not be the nicest-looking mirrors, you can’t beat the price or convenience.
How To Choose the Top Tow Mirrors
When choosing the tow mirror that’s right for you, there are several factors to consider. These include:
- Price – Before you outfit your vehicle with any sort of accessory, including tow mirrors, it’s a good idea to decide how much you’re willing to spend. You might want to compare prices online, so you can get an idea of how much mirror your money can buy.
- Local Laws – Depending on what you’re towing and what state you live in, local laws might dictate that your tow mirrors be a certain size. Check with your state’s department of motor vehicles to determine the legal requirements.
- Vehicle Year – Depending on how old your vehicle is, it may not be able to accommodate modern directional tow mirrors. Or you may need to buy a set of mirrors that comes with a conversion kit.
- Functionality – What kind of functionality do you need? If you live in an area where it gets cold or foggy, it may be a good idea to invest in mirrors with heating and LED functionality. If you’re towing unusually large or tall cargo, a telescoping mirror will give you a better view.
- Field of View – If you have a wider or larger field of view, it will be easier to maneuver your trailer. Convex mirrors often provide a wider field of view. Be sure to choose a mirror that provides you with a view that you’re comfortable with.
- Installment – Do you plan on installing the mirrors yourself or will you have a professional install them? If you’re going to install them yourself, you might want to go with a simpler type, such as manual.
How To Replace/Install Tow Mirrors
Disclaimer: The guidelines in this story are general and not meant to replace instructions for your specific vehicle. Please consult your owner’s manual or repair guide before attempting repairs.
Once you’ve decided on the right set of tow mirrors, it’s time to install them.
Make Sure You Have the Right Tools
In general, you’ll need a 10mm-deep socket wrench and a Phillips screwdriver. Consult your vehicle owner’s manual and the instructions for your new mirrors to see if you need additional tools.
Remove the Old Mirrors
To remove your old mirrors, you’ll need to remove the sail panel and, in some cases, the door panel. Typically, you’ll see three 10mm nuts holding the old mirror in place. You’ll need to unscrew those nuts. Make sure you’re holding the mirror so that it doesn’t fall and break. If your vehicle has power mirrors, you’ll need to unplug the wiring harness.
Install the New Tow Mirrors
To install the new tow mirrors, screw the nuts back into place, making sure they’re properly tightened. If your new mirrors are power tow mirrors, plug in the wiring harness.
Test the New Mirrors
After you install power mirrors, you’ll want to test them to make sure they function properly. Make sure they adjust when you use the power switch. If they have turn signals or heating, make sure those functions work too.
Where To Buy The Top Tow Mirrors
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