DIY – How to correctly aim car mirrors

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September 27, 2013 by quirkyuncle

Aiming the mirrors in your car correctly is vital for safe driving. Unfortunately, many of us aren’t pointing them in the right place.

Knowing what’s around your car is an important factor in avoiding accidents. All vehicles have areas where the driver’s vision is obstructed, known as blind spots. The mirrors in a car are designed to minimize these blind spots. Fortunately, even the comically small mirrors on a sports car can greatly reduce blind spots, when they are aimed correctly.

Note: Even well-aimed mirrors might not be able to remove 100% of the blind spots around your car. While good mirror aim should allow you to detect most other vehicles, remember that you do share the road with other things that are smaller than a car. Always pay extra attention for the presence of less substantial and more vulnerable objects, such as motorcycles and pedestrians.

A lot of people adjust their side door mirrors to view down the sides of the car. While this makes it easier to back up your car, it leaves huge blind spots. Aiming the mirrors so that their views don’t overlap provides you with much better visual coverage.

good vs bad aim

With well-aimed mirrors, vehicles overtaking you appear first in the rear-view mirror, move into view in the side door mirror, and then pass into direct view through your side door window.

showing mirror pattern all views

If your mirrors are aimed correctly, you will be able to drive down the highway, safely changing lanes without needing to crane your neck to look over your shoulder, taking your eyes off the road ahead in the process. Aiming your side mirrors correctly also reduces the glare from headlights of vehicles behind you: since they are not pointing straight back, side view mirror glare is limited to the time when a you are passing or being passed by another vehicle.

Aim the mirrors

To adjust your car mirrors, complete the following steps:

  1. Settle into your normal driving position.
  2. Aim the rearview mirror so its view is centered on the rear window.
    Rear-view mirror aiming
  3. To aim the driver-side door mirror, lean over until you head touches the glass in the driver-side door; then, adjust the driver-side door mirror horizontally (left to right) until you can just see the side of your car. (Try to keep your head at its normal driving height when leaning to the side.)
    Driver door mirror aiming
  4. To aim the passenger-side door mirror, lean over until your head is centered in the car between the driver and passenger seats; then, adjust the passenger-side door mirror horizontally (left to right) until you can just see the side of your car. (Try to keep your head at its normal driving height when leaning to the side.)
    Passenger door mirror aiming
  5. I like adjust my mirrors so that the top of the image seen all three mirrors aligns. This is a personal preference. After making any vertical adjustments to the door mirrors, repeat steps 3 and 4, to make sure that their horizontal aim remains correct.

Every vehicle is different. You might need to make some fine adjustments to minimize your blind spots, but the above procedure should get you fairly close.

Drive safe!

Note: Image of woman in the mirror is courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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