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Adjusting Your Rearview Mirrors

Rearview Mirrors - Part 1

In this first video installment of our two part rearview mirror series, instructor Micah covers the ins and outs of adjusting your rearview mirrors. He will show you how to find the rearview mirror sweet spot that will reduce your blind spots, while still giving yourself a reference of your vehicle in regards to traffic or hazards behind you.

Quick Look at Rearview Mirror Adjustments

Each time you get in your vehicle, before you start to drive, you want to check the placement of your mirrors. But first off, buckle your seatbelt and check your seat position. Once you are seated in your natural driving position, then you can check your mirrors and adjust them as needed.

Start with the center mirror. You should be able to see the entire rear windshield, left to right, top to bottom in your center mirror. While adjusting your mirror, be sure to keep finger and hand prints off the glass. In fact, it is smart to clean your mirrors before you start driving, as bright sunlight or headlights hitting a dirty mirror can make it very difficult to see. (P.S. this is also good advice for car window maintenance.)

Next you can adjust your side-view mirrors using the "rear door handle" trick. For both your left and right side mirrors, position them so that the rear door handle of your vehicle is barely visible in the bottom inside corner of each side mirror. Also, avoid aiming your mirrors too high towards the sky, or too low towards the ground. Instead, you want to position your mirrors so you can see traffic or hazards on the road behind you.

It's that simple! Just remember, even if your side-view and rearview mirrors are all correctly adjusted, they can't eliminate all blind spots, so continue to check over your shoulder prior to lane changes, turns, and moving to and from the curb.

Be sure to join us in Part 2 as we go over using your rearview mirrors!

Rearview Mirrors, Part 1 - Video Transcript

Today we are going to talk about those magical devices on your car that allow you to see what's going on behind and around your vehicle. That's right, today we are talking all about rearview mirrors!

After watching this video, you'll be able to teach other drivers how to adjust their mirrors to get the best view of what's going on behind them, while also minimizing those troublesome blind spots next to our car.

Greetings driving peoples of the world, Micah here again! Welcome to Part 1 of our rearview mirror series, where we'll show you how to ADJUST your mirrors. You can also check out Part 2 where we'll go over how to actually USE your mirrors safely while driving.

Before we jump in and start messing with the mirrors, we have to 1) buckle up of course and then 2) adjust our seating position. Why? Because every time your seat moves, your mirror angles change, so make sure you get comfortable in your seat FIRST, before you start changing the mirrors around!

Now we could do a whole video on seat adjustment -- comment below if you want to see that -- but in general you want to be seated comfortably at least 10"-13" from the steering wheel with a slight bend in your arms and legs. Your feet should be able to comfortably reach the pedals without having to stretch, and your headrest should reach at least to the top of your ears, but your head shouldn't be leaning on the headrest. It should look about like this.

Now that we're settled in, let's start adjusting our mirrors. Let's start with the center mirror. Now you don't have to be too gentle, this thing is meant to be moved around liberally. Just try to keep your fingers off the mirror so you don't get grease or oil spots on the glass. Your goal when adjusting the center mirror is to see as much as possible out of the rear window. When you get it just right, you should be able to see the entire rear windshield, left to right, top to bottom. It will look like this.

Now that we've got our center mirror adjusted, let's move onto the side mirrors. Let's start by adjusting the driver-side mirror first. Before we do though, make sure that when you are adjusting your mirrors, you're not leaning too far forward or leaning too far back -- That you're sitting in your natural driving position, because if you adjust your mirrors while you're leaning a certain way, once you start driving everything will look completely different. So, start adjusting your mirrors in your natural driving position. Now to adjust the driver-side mirror, or left mirror, you want to look for the automatic mirror adjustment controls that look similar to this. To adjust the mirror on the LEFT, we want to make sure we set the mirror control to "L" or "LEFT", like so. Here's where things get interesting.

Before I show you the right way to do it, let me show you what you DON'T want to do. A lot of new drivers like to position their mirrors way too far inward, focusing way too much on their own car... like this. This is wrong because it underutilizes the potential of your mirrors and creates larger blind spots for you. You want your mirrors to show you potential hazards and traffic behind and next to you -- you only want to see a little bit of our car. Likewise, you don't want to point your mirrors towards the sky, or at the ground. Again, if it is angled wrong, we get to see less traffic and potential hazards behind and next to us.

Now that you've seen the wrong way, let me demonstrate the proper way to adjust your mirror. Keep in mind that we already adjusted our center mirror to see as much as possible directly behind us. That means we want to use our side mirrors to see things we can't see in our center mirror -- sort of creating a panoramic view of the situation behind and next to us. We do this by using what I call the "rear door handle" trick. My goal is to get the rear door handle of my vehicle barely visible in the bottom corner of my side mirror -- the bottom corner of the mirror closest to the car... like this. That's perfect because it shows me a little sliver of my car -- which is good for reference -- but most importantly, now my mirrors show me a nice clear view of traffic behind me and a bit to the left of me. If your vehicle doesn't have a rear door handle to use as reference, no big deal... the idea is the same, you want to position the mirror so you see just a touch of the back of your vehicle. Together with my center rearview mirror, now I have a more complete view of the world behind me. Again, we don't want to see a huge piece of our car in the side mirror, but seeing a little bit is helpful when backing up, and also provides a nice reference point when changing lanes.

With the left mirror adjusted properly, now we want to adjust the right mirror. The technique is pretty much the same. First, we switch the mirror control to "R" or "Right" and then use the joystick to position the mirror appropriately. Again, in the bottom corner closest to the car, we want to see just a little bit of our car -- if possible, try to position your rear door handle in that bottom left corner... just like this. Now we have all 3 of our mirrors adjusted correctly and have a nice panoramic view of the traffic behind us. As you can see, as we move our eyes from mirror to mirror to mirror, we can see almost everything behind us, as well as to the left and right of us.

Even though we've done an excellent job positioning our mirrors, there are still areas we cannot fully see using our mirrors -- these are the infamous blind spots. Remember, we check our blind spots by doing a quick turn of the head from chin-to-shoulder, like this -- here's how I check my left blind spot, and here's how I check my right blind spot. It's that simple. For further reference, practice, and examples, check out our blind spot video that we made. It's really good, has some nice examples, very thorough. Definitely check it out!

A little side note here -- and this is not to confuse you, but I do want to point out that some defensive driving gurus will insist that your side mirrors should not show ANY part of the side of your vehicle. The argument here is that, by pushing your mirror further away from the car, you are decreasing the amount of blind spot you have. This is very true and is definitely something to consider as an advanced defensive driving technique. However, we have found over the years of training thousands of students that being able to see a little portion of your own car in the mirror is very helpful, especially for new drivers, because it helps to orient you visually and provides a nice visual reference point when determining spacing and distances from objects and other vehicles.

All right everybody, now that you know how to POSITION your mirrors, you need to learn how to actually USE them while driving. Check out Part 2 of our rearview mirror series where we'll breakdown everything you need to know about HOW and WHEN to use your mirrors.

See you all soon!