How to Adjust Your Mirrors for Maximum Visibility

How to Adjust Your Mirrors for Maximum Visibility

How to adjust your mirror for maximum visibility

First, let’s talk about why adjusting your car mirrors is so important. You see, mirrors are like the eyes on the back of your head. They help you see what’s happening behind your vehicle and on its sides without having to crane your neck around like an owl. This is crucial for many reasons:

  • Parking: Ever tried parking without looking in your mirrors? Not a great idea. They let you see how close you are to other cars, walls, or that shopping cart you didn’t notice before.

  • Changing Lanes: When you’re on a road or highway, you need to know if there’s someone in the lane you’re planning to move into. Mirrors help with this, avoiding accidents.

  • General Awareness: Mirrors keep you aware of your surroundings, letting you know if someone’s speeding up behind you or if there’s a bicycle coming up on your right side.

Now, let’s talk about setting your mirrors.

Rear View Mirror: This one’s straightforward. Adjust it so you can see as much as possible through your rear window.

Side Mirrors: Here’s where people usually mess up. A lot of folks adjust their side mirrors to see the sides of their own car. That’s not entirely wrong, but it’s not completely right either. You should adjust your side mirrors so that your car is just out of view. That way, you cover more of your blind spots – the areas your mirrors don’t naturally cover.

When you first adjust your mirrors like this, it might feel odd. It will be different, and your instinct might be to tilt them back towards your car. But give it some time. Try driving around the block or going on a short trip to see how it feels.

It’ll take a while to get used to glancing at your side mirrors and not seeing the side of your car. It’s like trying on a new pair of glasses – things seem weird at first. But over time, you’ll adjust, and you’ll find that this setup gives you a wider and more useful field of view. It’s all about making sure you can see as much as possible around your car to keep you, your passengers, and other road users safe. Safety first, after all.

Setting up your interior mirror

Step 1: Get Comfortable in Your Seat

Before you start adjusting any mirror, make sure you’re sitting in your normal driving position. The position of the seat, the angle of your headrest, and how far you’re leaning forward or back, all of these will influence what you see in the mirror.

Step 2: Identify the Adjusting Mechanism

Your mirror is likely attached to your windscreen on a small arm. On that arm, you’ll find a lever or rotating piece that controls the mirror’s position. Identify that before you start adjusting.

Step 3: Adjust the Mirror

You should adjust the mirror so you can see the entirety of your rear window from your normal sitting position. You want to be able to see cars, pedestrians, cyclists, or anything else that might be behind you without moving your head too much.

Car interior mirror


The importance of correctly adjusting your interior mirror cannot be overstated. It’s your primary tool for seeing what’s behind you when you’re driving, and if it’s set up wrong, you might miss something important, leading to dangerous situations.

Things to keep in mind while setting up a the interior mirror

  • Ensure the mirror provides the best possible view of the rear window, not just a small portion of it.
  • Nighttime driving involves flipping the tab on the bottom of your rear-view mirror to avoid getting blinded by headlights. Make sure you know how to do this.
  • If your car’s interior lights are on, or if the sunroof (if you have one) is open and letting in light, it can interfere with your view in the rear-view mirror. Try to avoid these situations when possible.
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Adjusting your car interior mirror

Additional Tips

  • Clean your mirrors regularly. Even the best-adjusted mirror won’t help you much if it’s covered in dust or smudges.
  • If your mirror is electronic, you may have additional options for automatic dimming or memory settings for different drivers. Consult your vehicle’s manual for more information.
  • Remember, your interior mirror is just one part of your overall awareness while driving. Don’t forget about your side mirrors and always check your blind spots manually when changing lanes or turning.

Setting up your interior mirror is one of the simplest, yet most crucial tasks you can do to ensure a safe and pleasant drive. Remember, safety is the top priority!

Setting up your exterior mirrors

Step 1: Get Comfortable in Your Seat

Before adjusting your mirrors, sit comfortably in your seat as you would while driving. Your line of sight changes based on your seat position, so it’s crucial to set it upright.

Step 2: Adjusting the Driver’s Side Mirror

Lean your head against the driver’s side window, then adjust this mirror until your car is just out of sight on the right side of the mirror. This might feel a bit strange, as people often adjust mirrors to see the side of their own car, but it’s the right method to reduce blind spots.

Step 3: Adjusting the Passenger’s Side Mirror

For the passenger’s side mirror, lean to the centre of the vehicle or simply sit normally, then adjust this mirror until your car is barely visible on the left side of the mirror.

Setting up your exterior mirrors

Importance Properly adjusted exterior mirrors can greatly reduce your blind spots and give you a better awareness of other road users. This improves safety by enabling you to make informed decisions, especially when changing lanes or reversing.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • After adjusting, sit back in your normal position and glance at each mirror to ensure you can quickly and clearly see the view without needing to move your head drastically.
  • Keep in mind that mirrors don’t cover all areas, and there will always be blind spots. Always check manually before changing lanes or making manoeuvres.
  • Adjust your mirrors in different lighting conditions. What looks good during the day might be glaring at night.

Additional Tips

  • As with your interior mirror, keep your side mirrors clean. A dirty or smudged mirror reduces visibility and could obscure important details.
  • Consider investing in blind-spot mirrors. These small, convex mirrors stick onto your existing side mirrors and can help you see in your blind spots.
  • If your mirrors are electric, remember to turn the control switch to the neutral position after adjusting. This prevents them from moving if the switch is accidentally bumped.

Remember, the aim of setting your exterior mirrors is to extend your field of vision as far as possible and to minimise blind spots. They’re a crucial part of your car’s safety system, so take the time to get them set up right.

What are blind spots?

“Blind spots” are areas around your vehicle that are not directly visible while looking forward or through either the rear-view or side mirrors. They are called “blind spots” because they are “blind” to the driver; you can’t see them without turning your head to look directly into these spaces.

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In a typical passenger car, there are usually two main blind spots. These are located over your shoulders, to the left and right of your vehicle. If another vehicle, pedestrian, or cyclist is in this area, they are in your “blind spot.”

For example, when you’re driving and a car comes up beside you, there might be a moment when you can’t see it in either your rear-view mirror or your side mirrors – that’s when it’s in your blind spot.

Blind spots can lead to accidents, especially when changing lanes or turning. That’s why it’s important to physically turn your head and look into these areas before making such moves. Some modern cars come equipped with blind spot detection systems, which alert the driver if there’s a vehicle in their blind spot.

How to use your mirrors properly

1. Merging on the Highway: Merging requires you to blend smoothly with high-speed traffic, so awareness of your surroundings is crucial. Check your rear-view mirror to gauge the speed and distance of vehicles behind you. Next, check your side mirror and your blind spot on the side you’re merging into. Only when these are clear should you merge. Remember, when merging, your goal is to match the speed of the traffic you’re merging into, not to force them to slow down for you.

External car mirror merging onto the highway

2. General Driving: During normal driving, you should regularly scan all your mirrors. The rear-view mirror gives you a direct view behind, while your side mirrors cover areas diagonally behind and to the sides. Developing a habit of checking your mirrors every few seconds will keep you aware of your surroundings and allow you to notice changes in traffic or potential hazards.

3. Parallel Parking: For parallel parking, all mirrors are vital. The rear-view mirror gives you an overview of the space behind you, while the side mirror closest to the curb can be used to gauge how close your rear tire is to the curb. You can even adjust this mirror downwards to see the curb more clearly. The other side mirror helps to ensure you’re not getting too close to the car behind.

Adjust car mirrors

4. When Pulling a Trailer: Towing a trailer brings additional challenges because it creates additional blind spots and affects your vehicle’s handling. Adjust your side mirrors so you can see the trailer and ensure there’s enough space for your vehicle and trailer to manoeuvre. You may need additional extended mirrors if your trailer is wider than your vehicle. Keep an eye on your load through your rear-view mirror (if it’s visible) to ensure that it’s secure and stable.

Remember, your mirrors are just one tool for maintaining awareness on the road. Always physically check your blind spots when changing lanes or merging and keep a safe distance from other vehicles. Regularly cleaning and adjusting your mirrors, based on your driving situation, can also help you stay safe on the road.

Frequently asked questions

Proper mirror adjustment is crucial for ensuring maximum visibility around your vehicle. It helps to minimise blind spots, allowing you to see other vehicles, pedestrians, and obstacles more clearly.

This enhances your safety by enabling you to make informed driving decisions and avoid potential accidents.

To adjust the rear-view mirror, sit in your normal driving position. The mirror should be centred on the rear window, providing a full and unobstructed view of the road behind you.

Tilt it up or down and side to side until you can see as much of the rear window as possible without moving your head significantly.

For the side mirrors, angle them outward so that you can just see the side of your vehicle on the inside edge of the mirror.

This expands your field of view to cover the adjacent lanes. The horizon should be centred in the mirrors, providing a balanced view of the road and sky.

Common mistakes include:

  • Setting the mirrors too narrowly
  • Failing to readjust them after someone else has driven the car
  • Not using the night mode feature on the rear-view mirror to reduce glare during night driving.

These errors can lead to larger blind spots and reduced visibility.

After adjusting your mirrors, perform a stationary check while parked to ensure you have a clear view of the rear window and adjacent lanes.

Then, take a short drive to confirm that you can see vehicles and obstacles clearly. Pay attention to any remaining blind spots and make fine adjustments if necessary.

If your car has manual side mirror adjustments, physically move the mirror housing to achieve the correct angle.

Follow the same steps as you would with electric controls: angle the mirror outward until you can just see the side of your vehicle, and ensure the horizon is centred vertically.

Even with properly adjusted mirrors, some blind spots may still exist.

It’s important to perform a quick shoulder check when changing lanes to ensure there are no vehicles in your blind spots.

Mirrors should be used in conjunction with direct vision to maximise safety.

Most modern vehicles have an anti-glare feature on the rear-view mirror, often referred to as night mode.

To activate it, there is usually a small lever or button on the bottom of the mirror.

Flip the lever or press the button to reduce glare from headlights behind you during night driving.

Yes, correctly adjusted mirrors can significantly improve your driving comfort and confidence. With optimal mirror settings, you can quickly and easily monitor your surroundings without excessive head movements.

This reduces stress and fatigue, allowing you to focus more on the road ahead and drive more confidently.