Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life and he shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.
A Typical RV Exterior Mirror
Road Safety and Mirrors
Road safety is always the number one concern for someone driving a motorhome or towing a camper along the highways of America.
And you want to drive these roads as safely as possible, so as to protect your investment in your RV and to assure the safety of your family and everyone else on the road with you.
The US is a big country laced with just about every imaginable type and condition of road, and eventually you and your RV are going to find yourselves on every one of these types of roads from the worst to the best.
Of course, when driving an RV you eyes and your mind are always concentrating on the road ahead,
But many motorhome drivers don't consider that when they need to maneuver on the road, those two side mirrors become critical to driving safely.
Every RV driver should keep their RV mirrors adjusted for the optimum view of what is beside and behind them at all times.
Adjusting the Mirrors on Your Motorhome Properly
Your rig or motorhome generally has a pair of two-piece mirrors extended on two adjustable arms on the front of the rig situated for use by the driver.
Keep Mirrors Inside Your Vehicle's Silhouette
Before adjusting the mirrors, you must realize that these mirror bodies extend outside of an already very wide vehicle.
With this in mind, look down the edge of your rig, and always adjust the body of your mirrors so that their edge is aligned right at the very side of your rig, and no further out.
A typical Class-A MotorHome will be 8 feet, 6 inches wide, or nearly that, which is the legal limit in most states. And remember that your these mirrors extend out beyond that limit, they will be the first things to get hit by, or to hit, other things when you are driving or parking your RV.
Adjust Your Mirrors With a Helper
So, I recommend that you set your right and left mirrors as shown in Figure 1 so that you have the optimum field of vision.
Doing this will give the driver the best combination of views when operating the rig on the road, as well as when backing up.
Typically, the lower, smaller mirrors of the pair are fixed in place and need to be set manually, while the upper or larger mirrors of the pair are typically adjustable from inside the coach. This is true for most rigs, although with some models their positions are reversed.
Ideally, if you have not adjusted your mirrors before:
- First, loosen the lock-down bolts on the mirror frames and pre-set the frame as described, and then pre-set the adjustable and fixed mirrors to the middle of their range.
- Then, you should sit in the driver's seat while someone adjusts the mirror frame to where it is close to the setting shown in the figure and described below.
- Once you are this close, lock the mirror frame bolts down. These are generally standard Allen wrench bolts, and every RV should have at least one wrench in the toolbox.
- The top or larger mirrors are not magnifiers, and will give you a larger field of view down the road behind you. So you should set these to allow the driver, once he is comfortably seated in the drivers seat, to see the edge of the RV, as well as down the road starting at a point about halfway down the RV's body.
- The lower, smaller mirrors are magnifiers, and will give the driver a smaller field of view, so set the edge further in on the mirror as shown, so the driver can see the bottom of the RV body about 8-10 feet behind the driver.
This should give the driver a decent view of almost all vehicles that might be driving directly beside the RV.
A Tip: Mark the Mirror With the Location of the Rear Wheel
In the drawing, you will notice the stars on the lower mirrors. This is a handy trick you should try:
- While sitting in the driver’s seat, have your navigator stand directly beside your rear tire on one side of the RV.
- Make a small mark on the mirror where the navigator's knees are.
- Then place a small colored dot where you marked the mirror. Repeat this for the other side of the RV.
Now, when you are parking the RV, you have a nice clear indication of roughly where the rear wheels are. This is especially handy if your wheel wells are hard to see in your mirrors.
RV Convex Towing Mirror
Another Tip: Mark Your Mirrors for Lane Changing
Another aid you might try is the following. Often, even with a rear view camera, you can have a hard time judging when to go back into a lane after passing another vehicle, especially when towing.
- To make marks that will help with this, hook up your tow to your RV, and have your navigator walk back and stand parallel to the rear of the tow vehicle.
- Mark another spot on your larger mirror at your navigator's knees, and then place a colored dot on that spot on the large mirror. Repeat this on the other side of the RV.
Now, when you are passing another vehicle, and it is a decent distance beyond the dot, you have another indicator that you are safe in returning to your lane.
Universal Clip-On Mirror Extender for Trucks
How to Adjust Your RV Mirrors
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
Question: How do I install the fresnel mirror on the passenger side window?
Answer: These units typically come with their own adhesive for use on glass surfaces, along with instruction on the appropriate places for the to be mounted. Take care though and do not put it on a window where its concentrated output is not able to be focused on flammable material such as curtains.
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on May 11, 2016:
R.J.Schwartz - Thanks for the read and the kind comment. It makes me happy when my stories and tips are of use to others.
Ralph Schwartz from Idaho Falls, Idaho on May 10, 2016:
This is very useful Don - we're taking our first long RV trip next month and I'll certainly be utilizing the tips!
Kristin Trapp from Illinois on February 22, 2013:
Great suggestion, Don. I didn't even know mirrors like that existed. Thanks.
Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on February 22, 2013:
ktrapp- I had the same problem with my Toyota that you have.
I just couldn't see some of the vehicles that were in my "blind spot".
I recommend going to your local auto parts chain store and purchase a pair of the 2-inch diameter mirrors that you then stick to the outer edge of your existing mirror.
This mirror is concave and gives you a good view of your blind spot so that you will now have a good view for safe lane changes.
Try it, you will love it.
Kristin Trapp from Illinois on February 22, 2013:
This caught my attention because I cannot even seem to get the mirrors adjust properly on my little Nissan Rogue. The rear visibility when changing lanes is pretty poor, so I find myself needing to rely on the mirrors more than ever. I cannot imagine driving an RV. I'm sure other drivers will find your RV mirror adjustment diagram incredibly useful. I bet you could make a whole RV guide book of helpful instructions like this. Voted up and useful.