Adjust Your Car Mirrors To Fully Cover Your Blind Spots

Adjust Your Car Mirrors To Fully Cover Your Blind Spots

The way most drivers, and car makers, keep their side mirrors doesn’t actually cover the blind spot outside the driver’s vision. Car and Driver illustrates a car mirror setup that, once you get used to it, could prevent lane change freak-outs.

The auto magazine culls its mirror alignment diagram from a paper published in 1995 by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). That paper suggested, basically, moving your side mirrors to point further out into adjacent lanes, a trick that can take some getting used to:

The paper advocates adjusting the mirrors so far outward that the viewing angle of the side mirrors just overlaps that of the cabin’s rearview mirror. This can be disorienting for drivers used to seeing the flanks of their own car in the side mirrors. But when correctly positioned, the mirrors negate a car’s blind spots. This obviates the need to glance over your shoulder to safely change lanes as well as the need for an expensive blind-spot warning system.

So the trick is to get the side mirrors aligned just outside what your rearview mirror covers, and rely on your own vision to cover the areas in your peripheral vision. Neat trick, but as the magazine (and their commenters) mention, you’ll want to train yourself on a neighbourhood road before taking this setup out on the freeeway.

Check out the Car and Driver post for a full look and explanation of the SAE-approved side mirror setup. Got a better solution to your side mirror setup? Do tell in the comments. Thanks for the link, cipheroid!.

How To: Adjust Your Mirrors to Avoid Blind Spots [Car and Driver]


  • I actually try to split the difference. I have a slight overlap of my side and rearview mirrors.
    When I lean forward, I can get a good angle to my blind spots in the side mirrors, when I lean back and to a side, I can see down the line of traffic, which is useful for spotting a gap in traffic that I might be able to pop into.
    I still check my blind spot though when actually making the maneuver. Mirrors are only used for analysing my options.

  • QUOTE: “when correctly positioned, the mirrors negate a car’s blind spots. This obviates the need to glance over your shoulder to safely change lanes”

    I do believe this is actually very dangerous, mirrors can sometimes be deceiving and you should ALWAYS use a head check, to be sure, if you take out a motorbike because you didn’t do a head check, you loose the battle with the police and insurance companies.

  • The car I had prior to the car I have now had blind spot mirrors that were pretty good. I miss them. They’re just little round, convex mirrors fixed to the inner edge of the side mirrors. But I agree with the above commentors, no matter how good your mirrors are, a headcheck is necessary to feel confident that you’re not about to merge into someone.

  • I alter the side mirrors when stopped at the lights. It makes it easy to see where your cabin mirror gets its blind spot to adjust your sides to cover.

    The previous posts are correct tho’, always do a head turn to check.

  • I am constantly amazed that everybody does not do this already. The way most people set up their mirrors, they look in the main rearview mirror to see what is directly behind them, then in the wing mirrors to see…what is directly behind them. They’re replicating the same information three times.

    As others have said though, head checks are still essential.

  • I did this recently, to the point where I can’t see the flanks of the car unless I move my head slightly to look directly into the side mirror(s). I’ve tested it extensively and other vehicles (including bikes) move seamlessly from the side to rear view mirror with a slight overlap.

    I still look over my shoulder when I’m travelling on a multi-lane freeway in case someone is hooning up behind me, but on dual lane roads it works perfectly.

  • Here are my thoughts on the topic.

    I know you should adjust your mirrors to cover blind spots, but when you are reversing, it makes that a lot harder, and adjusting your mirrors to see just takes too much time.

    Mario, I actually disagree with your comment to ALWAYS do a head check. The reason being that merging on a highway with a short run-on and doing a shoulder check can be quite dangerous, especially when you have those incompetent drivers who slam on the breaks at the end of the freeway entrance because they failed to merge, when you are about to accelerate to merge with the traffic. I think the rule that you MUST do a head check is a load of rubbish, considering it is possible to remove all blindspots.

  • I tried this mirror setup, its good to get a wider view, but if a big bus is close behind you traffic jam and you need to change lanes, you cant see whats coming from behind from all your mirrors. Checking over your shoulders wouldn’t help here. Also its harder to parallel park with the mirrors like this.

  • I like to use this setup as well, however in a lot of newer cars, the mirror will not tilt out far enough to cover the whole blind spot, so I’m back where I started.

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