Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Adjusting the mirrors in your car for optimum visibility

Many years ago, I came across a posting in one of the automobile newsgroups that I found very useful.  I have since always used this to adjust the mirrors in a car when I first get into it.  It's somewhat counter to what one would be inclined to do, since it requires adjusting the side view mirrors to see just beyond the sides of the vehicle.  I don't recall the original source or I would have credited it.  Here's the piece.
It's all done with mirrors. An important part of safe driving is knowing what is around you at all times. However, if your side-view mirrors are not set correctly, you might experience blind spots. Here are three suggestions for a clear view: 
Step 1: Adjust your inside rear-view mirror to reflect the entire rear window. At night, if you don't have an auto-dimming mirror, use the mirror angle switch to eliminate headlight glare. 
Step 2: While resting your head on the left window, adjust the left side-view mirror so you can see just beyond the car's left side. 
Step 3: Align your head under the rear-view mirror, then adjust the right side-view mirror so you can see just beyond your car's right side. 
Follow these simple instructions to see your way clear in all types of traffic, night and day!
Once the mirrors have been set in this way, a car approaching from behind will first appear in the rear-view mirror, and before it disappears from the rear-view mirror it will appear in the side-view mirror, and before it disappears from the side-view mirror it will be in the driver's peripheral vision.

Here is a video explaining this procedure and demonstrating how it works.  And here is a picture from Car and Driver showing how it works.

Aspherical mirrors

I have tried adjusting the driver's side mirror in several Mercedes Benz cars and have found that it is impossible to adjust the driver's side mirror according to these instructions.  One possible solution to that would be buy and install aspherical mirrors.  As of this writing, aspherical mirrors are not available in the US, but they can be purchased from European dealers.

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