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01 Sep 2007 | Text and photos by Andy Hum | Category: Car Maintenance Advice

Don't have a sense of security because you can't find the right angle for your car mirrors? Here's a walkthrough on how you can solve that problem of yours.

Why do you need to adjust your car mirrors

The rear-view and side mirrors are to eliminate blind spots while you are on the roads.

Blind spots, in the context of driving, are the areas around the vehicle which cannot be seen when looking forward or through any of the car mirrors. The inability to see objects or even people hidden in the blind spots has caused countless accidents.

Blind spots can be eliminated by overlapping the field of vision of the side and rear-view mirrors. Turning one's head briefly or adding another mirror with a larger field of vision are other ways to eradicate blind spots. Devices such as the reverse sensor can tackle the issue of blind spots too.

Some common blind spots include the rear sides of the vehicle, the front and back of the vehicle (if the object is too low), and the left and right areas ( in cases where side vision is hindered). A driver may be unable to see vehicles in the adjacent lanes of the road by using only the car's mirrors.

The blue car's driver sees the green car through his mirrors but is unable to see the red car without turning to check his blind spot.

How to adjust your car mirrors

1. Move your driver's side view mirrors outwards
Press your head against the driver's side window. Adjust your side view mirror outwards until you can just see the edge of the car.
2. Move your passenger's side view mirror outwards
Place your head in the center of the car and adjust the passenger's side mirror so that you can just see the edge of the car. This is necessary even with convex (curved) mirrors despite the slightly distorted image.
You do not want this mirror to duplicate the representation on your rear-view mirror. Instead, you want this mirror to look at the lane beside you.
3. Check that you cannot see the sides of your car with your side view mirrors
Once back in the normal driving position, both the side mirrors should be able to give a clear view of the lanes beside you, not the sides of your car.
4. Check that your mirrors do not duplicate each other.
Both side view mirrors and your rear-view mirror should each give you a unique view of what is behind you. If any of these mirrors duplicate the view of the other, you have failed to adjust your mirrors properly.
5. Ask a friend to walk around the back of your car.
Make sure there is no direction in which your friend can approach your car and blindside you. Adjust your mirrors so that you can see your friend at all angles.
6. Be on the lookout for blind spots.
As your friend circles your car, make sure that he can be seen at every angle. As he walks from your rear-view mirror to your passenger side mirror, you should have an uninterrupted visual fix. Likewise, there should be continuity as your friend travels from the rear-view mirror to the driver's side mirror. You should be able to see your friend, from your side mirrors to your peripheral vision, as he travels from the back of your car to the front.

If you can keep sight of your friend as he circles your car, while keeping your head fixed in front, you have adjusted your mirrors correctly.

Most of us have dealt with blind spots by turning our head for a quick check. This generally does not pose a problem in terms of missing something ahead; however, it may be dangerous. Unless you have worked to control it, your arms will move in the direction your eyes is looking thereby causing the steering wheel to turn in that direction. This might cause unwanted swerving of the moving car. With well-positioned mirrors, you will not have to turn to check for hidden blind spots. It is your eyes you want to move as you drive, not your head. The time it takes you to turn your head could prove fatal even for a millisecond!

Never let yourself be blindsided by another vehicle, no matter what direction that vehicle might come from. All vehicles approaching your car should be on your mental radar at all times.



Field of vision for blind spots.
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