How to adjust your side view mirrors

How to adjust your side view mirrors
In a parking lot fine two cars parked in the same row with an empty space between them and an empty space in front of that empty space.
Drive your car into empty space between the two cars and pull up past them till their front bumble is parallel to the back of driver’s seat.
Tilled your side view mirrors out till you can see each of the cars in one of the mirrors.
Adjust windshield rear view mirror straight back.
With this configuration when a car passes you on either side they will go out of sight in your rear view mirror and come into view on your side view mirror.

That seems like it could be a good method, but “Tilled your side view mirrors out till you can see each of the cars in one of the mirrors” is too ambiguous. Perhaps you mean “centered in the mirror” ? But that doesn’t seem to work either…

I take the easier route and do it on the road, after an initial adjustment while stationary. I watch a car passing me on the left and adjust the outside mirror so that the image moves from the inside mirror to the outside one with little overlap. Ditto on the right. Usually my initial adjustment is pretty close.

The initial adjustment: I lean to the left and adjust the mirror so I can just see the left rear of my car. Ditto on the right.

Hmmm…no information about car washes?
Perhaps he/she will include something like that in their next “public service” posting.

The phone caller who talked about this issue on the most recent Car Talk broadcast has an interesting idea. He says to adjust the side mirrors so that when objects start to disappear from the edge of the rear-view mirror, that’s when they begin to appear in the side mirror. I’m in Ray and Tom’s camp though; I prefer to see the rear fender of my own car in the side mirror, for reference about where my car is in relation to cars off to the side and back. I guess I’m more interested in avoiding dents than seeing everything there is to see.

I was going to drive between two cars and stop but I don’t know what a front bumble is.

Must be a newbie.

I’m with @GeorgeSanJose and Tom and Ray. I prefer to aim my side mirrors so I just barely can see the edge of my rear fenders. But then I drive a pick-up with a cap on the back so the rear view mirror is useless except for seeing my handsome face…if you can find a spot between the post-it notes.


Yosemite is correct for when the inside mirror is useless. But in general, I agree with that “phone caller” as noted in my post above.

@GeorgeSanJose - that’s exactly what Tom and Ray say NOT to do. Here’s the intro to their preferred method:
"For years, we’d been setting our side-view mirrors so that they gave us a view of the back corner of our cars. This is the way it’s been done for generations - from grandfather, to father, to us! But we finally discovered something very interesting. The back corner of the car never moves. It always stays in the same exact place. So there’s really no reason to keep an eye on it.

By moving the side mirrors farther out, you can line up all three of your mirrors so they have minimal overlap – and you can see everything behind you and beside you."

But you can’t back up precisely without a visual reference to the back end of the vehicle. (Think: backing up to a loading dock, for example.) After all, you wouldn’t shoot at a target without reference to the barrel of the rifle, would you?

Every day, I have to back my truck into my car park, from an alley. If I want to “one take” it, I need to be between 1-4" from my neighbor’s picket fence, at the moment my rear axle is directly abeam the fence corner. Without having my truck’s body in my mirror view, I would have flattened said fence some time ago!

IMO, the “new and improved” way of setting mirrors is a workaround for all those too lazy (OK, and infirm) to “keep their head on a swivel” and look behind them prior to lane change. It probably works tolerably well…if you don’t back up much (or pull a trailer, or…). Better yet is to do it the “hard” way and retain backing precision. (Buy a pot-lid stick-on mirror if you must.)

The SAE has a standard recommended setting for this. Just Google them and you’ll find the brochure.

Yes, that’s what the SAE recomends…but the SAE is comprised of mortals, too; just like the rest of us, they put their pants on one leg at a time.

It’s the embodiment of a philosophy that notes the low level of diligence/competency/whatever in the “average motorist,” takes it as a given, immutable fact of life, and then designs “workarounds” to accommodate these failings. For this philosophy we get:

  • People can’t be bothered to check their tire pressure…so we’ll mandate TPMS.
  • People don’t care to learn how to correct for oversteer…so any car with OS tendencies is “unsafe.”
  • People don’t check their oil anyways…so we’ll delete the dipstick they aren’t using.

It’s a philosophy; it happens to be one I disagree with on just about very level possible. I think people live up/down to whatever standards you set for them: tell them that looking over their shoulder when changing lanes is “too hard” and they’ll start acting that way. Compare the level of motorist complacency to that of motorcyclists: once you get sufficient “skin in the game,” all those things that were “too hard”…suddenly aren’t!

@texases … Yes, that’s what the Car Talk website currently recommends. On the taping date of the most current episode of the radio program though, if I heard what they said correctly, Tom and Ray hadn’t arrived at that conclusion yet.

We have found small circular convex “fish-eye” accessory mirrors an excellent addition to our side mirrors – we have glued them on to the lower inside corner of both mirrors. They allow us to see the blind spots, maneuver into parking spaces, and detect approaching bicycles.

I find the rectangular blind spot mirrors on the driver side my preference

I got to thinking about this thread while I was attempting the dreaded parallel parking maneuver the other day. You know, where you pull forward a little beyond the available spot, then back in? When I do that, which I do often, I rely heavily on the passenger side-mirror to judge how close the car is to the curb. If I couldn’t see the edge of the car in the side-mirror, it seems like parallel parking would be considerably more difficult.

to each his own EXCEPT that dastardly terminology…’‘side view’’ mirror ! AHK !
I wonder if the OP noticed we all call them the side mirrors that they are,
you have three mirrors…one inside…and two outside on the side of you vehicle.
– if you can ‘‘view’’ the side…they ARE adjusted wrong.

for me, I like the adjustment where I can see only a tad of the rear corner of mine, for reference, and as much rear view as physically possible by the the mirror size,
I have spot mirrors on both sides.
I don’t need to see the sky but I put the traffic in the center .
The right side mirror is adjusted a little more down to aid in parking ‘‘the bus’’ ( 08 Expedition EL )
The newest issue ?
Re-adjustment by my new 4’ 8" driver.
She said she didn’t want to spoil my adjustments.
I told her that , as a proper and safe driver, she should make EVERY adjustment SHE needs for her. It’s NOT a problem and that’s why they’re adjustable.
take all the time she needs…3 mirrors, seat, steering wheel.
She’s doing great, drove us all to California and Las Vegas for this two week vacation…license in October .

I have driven around 350,000 miles since I retired. Driving up to 800 miles a day, day after day, I simply do not want to have to turn my head when changing lanes, for two reasons. 1, a nuisance. 2, it means I am not looking ahead for a short time.

So, I have the stick on mirrors on each side, and do not have to look over my shoulder. I can check the stick-ons with a glance, because my mirrors are adjusted to show everything back there.

Car in blind spot? Motorcycle or bicycle in blind spot? There is no blind spot. That works for me.

@GeorgeSanJose, I adjust my mirrors as the OP/CarTalk site suggest, and I solved the parallel parking issue by sticking small adjustable convex mirrors on the lower inner area of my side view mirrors. When parking, those convex mirrors let me see the curb even though the side mirrors are tilted farther out.

In normal driving I ignore the convex stick-ons and look instead at the main area of the side-view mirrors. Works great and I’ve never had a problem.

irlandes: tell me more about the “stick on mirrors” ??
jesmed1 : same question…