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How to Properly Adjust Your Car’s Side-view Mirrors

When you’re learning how to drive, one of the things you’re taught is how to adjust your side-view mirrors. The typical way to do this has always been adjusting them so you have a clear view of the rear corners of your car, but here’s the rub: Adjusting them this way creates blind spots. Why? Because the rear corners are always in the same position. Since they never move, there’s no use focusing on them. However, the traffic to your left and right is moving, and usually, pretty fast. If you try changing lanes and can’t see what’s in the blind spot, you may be exchanging insurance cards with a stranger sooner than later.

The solution is to move the side mirrors farther out giving you a wider field of vision. According to the National Safety Council, here’s how to line up your rearview and side-view mirrors so they have minimal overlap, permitting you to see the traffic behind you and beside you.

First, set your rearview mirror as you normally do. Next, lean your head all the way to the left so it’s touching your driver’s side window. From that position, set your left side-view mirror so you can see the rear-left corner of your car. Now, lean the same distance to the right, and set your right side-view mirror in the same manner.

Here’s what you want to accomplish: When a car behind you begins to gain on you, you’ll see it first in your rearview mirror. As the car begins to pass you on the left, its image will move to the left side of your rearview mirror. As the passing car’s left-front headlight moves out of your rear mirror’s view the image should seamlessly shift almost immediately from the rearview mirror to your driver’s side mirror; this way you never lose sight of the passing vehicle.

To achieve this you will have to tweak the alignment of your driver’s side mirror so that as soon as the passing car’s left-front headlight disappears from your rearview mirror, it appears in your left, side-view mirror. A smart way to make these adjustments is to pull up beside a line of parked cars to simulate a virtual traffic lane. Now, make the exact same alignment adjustments to your right-side mirror.

The next time you’re on the road you’ll see that all three mirrors are in proper alignment, and the blind spots are virtually gone. Try to think of them as one long mirror that spans the width of your entire car. It may seem a little weird at first, but once you get used to it you’ll feel a lot safer.

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