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Towing Mirrors are NOT optional

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I know how it goes. You’ve got your new trailer, you’ve signed on the dotted line (which is never dotted, by the way), and you can’t wait to get your new baby off the lot and to the nearest state park.

“Just a couple more things,” says your salesman, a kindly, soft-spoken gentleman sporting just a hint of Old Spice. “You’ll need a brake controller, a hitch, and mirrors to be legal. Bobby over in parts can help you out.”

Now, before you befriend Bobby, let me suggest you come down off your new trailer euphoria and do a little research. RV dealers are great people, but their accessories are limited to what they happen to carry. Some carry a wide range, some keep it to one or two popular name brands.

McKesh Towing Mirror 1I’ll skip over the brake controller and trailer hitch for this post, but put those on your “hit list” of things to check out before you take delivery. Believe me, if you have to delay the delivery of your new trailer by a few days to get it right, you’ll be eternally grateful down the road. It’s a hard lesson many have had to learn.

Towing mirrors are often the accessory that gets the least thought. “They’re just mirrors!” you say, already picturing the underside of your awning just before you drift off to Napville.

But they’re not just mirrors. And they’re not just a good idea. They’re the law. In fact, if you check the laws in 50 different states, you’ll find that they all have little variations. Be sure to check your own state laws before buying your trailer or next set of mirrors. There are websites with the regs for all 50 states and Canadian provinces listed, but it’s best to check directly with your own department of motor vehicles. Often, the “one stop” information on the web is outdated.

A good rule of thumb is: If you can see a car that’s 100′ (about 6 car lengths) directly behind your trailer, you’re in good shape. But also make sure your mirrors are stable, meaning they don’t vibrate at highway speeds. If you’ve ever watched headlights doing the jitterbug in your towing mirrors, you know what I’m saying. There will be an Excedrin in your near future (that was not a shameless product placement–I’ll let you know).

McKesh Towing Mirror 2Hensley Mfg. produces the top portable mirrors available. They extend out to 20″, covering any state or province regulations, and are virtually vibration free. They attach to any vehicle (with the exception of those with the very thick cladding at the bottom of the door, like the older Avalanche trucks). They come with a 30-day money back guarantee and optional convex mirrors. Get those to watch for the cars sneaking up on your blind spot.

McKesh Mirrors are available at www.safetowingstore.com or by calling 1-800-410-6580. Now back to that nap…

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Comments

17 Responses to “Towing Mirrors are NOT optional”

  1. Mark Skotek on March 1st, 2010 7:07 pm

    mirrors are mandatory when backing up…..I see many people pulling trailers without them and wonder how they can see behind them. They probably can see vehicles passing them but cannot see down the road behind them. I consider this very scary and dangerous.

  2. GMAs on March 1st, 2010 9:07 pm

    Is this a sales pitch or a helpful suggestion? Reads more like a manufacture pushing his product in a way…

    While lots of mirrors are nice… you don’t want to get too carried away with ‘em… extending out 20 inches on each side almost puts you at the lane’s width… hug the line and you could have your mirror over in the other guys lane.

    Convex mirrors are great for general look see if anything is their… you can see from top to bottom (height clearance as well as where the wheels are) but they have distortion and are not good for distances unless you can approx where things are…

    Regular mirrors are good for seeing exactly where the other guy is… and you don’t have to worry about things being closer than they really are…

    But that being said… too many mirrors will become a distraction and not allow you to see whats on the other side of ‘em… then at nigh you best be wearing sun glasses if you have all the mirrors that are show in the picture above.. as the guy behind you will blind ya…

    Most PU’s have 5×7 or larger mirrors.. to which you can add a glue on convex mirror in the area you don’t use … etc.. Most new fords have dual mirrors… i.e they have a large on on top and a convex one on the bottom all that can be adjusted independent of each other… ford also has the mirrors that extend out further elec’ly. A nice option but not necessary…

    I would ask around at the RV supply store other than the dealer as to which one is the better… their you can go out and put them on.. or have someone hold them up and while sitting inside you can see if you and they are comp…

    Another place that sells great mirrors for RV’s is Flying J stops.

    As to backing.. mirrors are useful.. but we found that putting the hitch on the front of the PU works better.. then you stop unhook and shift things to the front of the vehicle.. turning is better .. and visibility is much more direct.. no mirrors needed or has blind spots.. when the tow vehicle is cranked around and you can’t see the outside of the vehicle your backing…

    We perfer the dual hitch as we also can use the front reciever for the motorbike, extra stuff… and a location for the ham CB antenna etc.. I also made up some long board holders that plug into the front and rear reciever… now when we want them 20 footers… easy to tranport… along with the alu boat or other things … .as well as we can put the RV trailer exactly where we want it in tighter places… with the reciever hitch up front… and ot lose any traction putting the boat in the water.. etc… but, each to their own…

    by the way… cell phone works for the spotter and driver commucations.. if not that then the FRS walkie talkies… but, when your facing the trailer .. its so much easier to move around. and see your spotter out the front window.

  3. Hoppe on March 2nd, 2010 8:07 am

    GMAs
    I don’t have ALL the experience in the world, but I’m still trying to envision how a 5er hitch goes on the fornt of your truck! Mirrors are important, legislated mirrors are not superflous. And yes you will need sunglasses if they all are focused to you ‘normal’ driving position. Try to aim them slightly off/ in front of your line of sight, when you need them you will lean into their line of sight and see what’s needed. Not too far off, cause you want to be there by just thinking about it. Your head will move automatically.
    Now if the 2 top mirrors are flat you need to reaim the inner one differently, Maybe to see the back edge of your truck? That’ll limit the blinding effects of closing traffic. Also I’ve found that good ‘yellow’ glasses, increase the contrast and knock the edge off the blinding part. Hate getting old, but the options are not wonderfull.

    hoppe

  4. Dan Kaepp on March 25th, 2010 11:30 pm

    Toyota has extendable mirrors also, which are adjustable electrically from inside the cab, and they are wonderful;.far better than clip-ons..

  5. Dave Dempsey on March 26th, 2010 6:36 am

    I’m a retired carhauler and for years I ran from Flint Mi to Ga/ Florida down I75 every week and the horror stories I can tell you are endless about traveling with the snowbirds. If you can not see straight down the sides of your rig and see the red markers on thr bottom rear side of your trailer you are not set up properly. You are towing a trapazoid that in effect is 8′ wide in front and maybe 12′ wide in the back by what you can not see.
    On a 75′ cahrauler I had 7 mirrors 5 of them convex and I would still miss seeing somethings I needed to. Convex mirrors are your friend and you need atleast one on each side.

  6. Sheila Allison on March 26th, 2010 7:05 am

    Where did you find the ones for toyota. We have the Tundra and have only the truck mirror while pulling an Award. I can see anyone behind me if they are not riding the bumper. Backing is no problem if I get out and look where I am going and only have one person yelling at me. If they get too bad then I can run them off and do it myself. I have been in a campground that tell you to remove the towing mirrors when you are there. I don’t want something that is not simple to put on an off. If I really want to see directly behind me while towing with the Award I can pull up all the blinds and see straight through the camper and what is behind me. This is better at night. I also love the yellow glasses too. Make a hugh difference when it has been raining and the headlights are coming at you. Hope to see all of you on the road.

  7. John on March 26th, 2010 6:26 pm

    You do not allway meed extra mirrors likw when pulling a tent trailer by a full size pickup or van. the mirrors see right over top.

  8. Bill MacDermod on August 26th, 2010 5:25 pm

    I tow a 17′ Casita Travel trailer with a Honda Odyssey, the trailer is about 4″ wider than the Ody, thats 2″ on a side. If it was 6″ wider per side it would be a consideration I use the stock mirrors only and they work just fine. I really don’t give a rip to who is behind me as I can’t do a thing about it anyway, as long as I can see down the side and I can. When I’m about to pull out or in I just lean forward a bit and glance at the mirror and I can see the blind spot without any problem. I have had this trailer for 8 years and close to 50,000 miles and been pulling trailers since the mid 50’s. If you need the mirrors thats fine, but I find staring through the vibration very distracting. Till I get stopped for a mirror violation I think I’ll do without.

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