Press "Enter" to skip to content

How To Adjust and Use Your Rear and Side View Mirrors

Correct positioning and use of interior and exterior mirrors contribute to good visual habits when driving. When mirrors are positioned correctly, the inside mirror provides a view of what is directly behind the vehicle and the side mirrors allow the driver to view the area adjacent to the rear corners of the vehicle. Vehicle mirrors are designed for detection, not detailed inspection, so use them that way.

Adjust the inside mirror so it provides a view of the entire rear window. Using this mirror should require moving only the eyes, not the head. A driver who is at least six feet tall may receive more benefit from turning this mirror upside down if this is possible. This raises the bottom edge of the mirror by one to two inches and can reduce a blind area for a tall driver.

Move on to adjust the side view mirror on the driver side. Sit in the driver seat and place the head against the driver side window. Adjust the mirror so the side of the car can barely be seen in the right side of the mirror. Adjust the side view mirror on the passenger side by positioning the head just above the center console. Move the mirror until the side of the car can barely be seen in the left side of this mirror.

A helper may be needed to adjust side view mirrors if the vehicle has only manual mirror adjustment capabilities. Once the side and rear view mirrors are positioned as directed, the driver will have almost uninterrupted visual access to the area surrounding the vehicle. This makes it easier to detect other vehicles on the roadway. The driver will be able to see a vehicle traveling behind and watch it progress from the rear view to left side mirror when the car passes on the left.

Test the new positions for the mirrors while the car is parked on the side of the street. Watch passing vehicles move through the mirrors and into the peripheral vision. This orients you to the new mirror positions before driving in traffic. If the positioning does not seem correct, follow the steps above to make the necessary adjustments.

Mirrors that are properly adjusted increase visibility when traveling on roadways. However, even correctly positioned mirrors will not eliminate every blind spot. Reduce risk of an accident by visually checking the sides of the car before making a lateral move. This extra step takes only a few seconds and can prevent a collision.