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Websites and other sources sometimes say there's a "better way" to adjust your car's side mirrors. They claim their better way can eliminate the blind spot.
There are two key questions.
One, can you eliminate the blind spot?
Two, the websites make it sound like you're getting something for nothing. But do you ever get something for nothing? Or is there a catch -- or several -- they don't talk about?
Our recommendation below.
Some people say that the "old" way of adjusting the side mirrors is wrong -- that there's a new and better way. But really the new way is not new at all. It's been around for fifty years.
They say that with the traditional method, the side mirrors show a huge amount of the rear corners of your own car. (And no, you definitely don't want that.)
They say, instead, if you tilt the mirrors really far outward, you'll eliminate the blind spot -- meaning that a car coming up in the lane next to yours will remain in the mirror until it is beside you, and not disappear from the mirror when it reaches a position about forty-five degrees over your shoulder. In other words, they are claiming that shoulder-checking the blind spot will no longer be necessary, because there is no more blind spot.
To see a typical example, you can check out a YouTube link at the bottom of the page.
In fact, wide-set mirrors do work as shown there -- but only in that one single context. In other words, you will see the car in the next lane when that car is 45 degrees over your shoulder. But the catch is that there are other contexts -- other situations when you will miss things, because the blind spot is NOT eliminated, and because other important coverage is sacrificed.
Users of wide-set mirrors need to be wary of the following.
Here the rearview (inside) mirror would be blocked completely by the truck, but the left side mirror sees past the truck. This view past the truck is lost if the mirror is set too wide, and if a vehicle far back is closing at high speed, that vehicle may not be seen in time.
(The view above does not show optimal adjustment -- it is only to demonstrate how a side mirror can let you see past a large vehicle.)
The intersection and driveway over your left shoulder can't be seen in the mirrors regardless of how the side mirror is adjusted. If you're parked and getting ready to pull away, only a shoulder check will detect a vehicle turning toward you.
Claims that you can eliminate blind spots are false, but you can certainly minimize blind spots so that a shoulder check is only a brief peek forty-five degrees back -- never all the way back.
Adjust the side mirrors absolutely as far out as possible but still showing well back.
Also, you can actually get wider coverage from side mirrors by simply leaning your upper body forward while looking -- the angle of coverage moves outward.
But wait -- what about adjustment up and down?
It seems no one ever talks about adjusting side mirrors up and down for the correct height. Here's how...
On a flat and level road stretching far back to the horizon, the horizon will be slightly higher than the middle of the mirror.
And finally, to see how some people advocate using wide-set mirrors, you can check out:
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Last updated July 4, 2015.