Caravan towing mirrors are an essential safety addition to your vehicle set-up when towing your caravan. They may look big and funny and stick out more than you're used to - but actually that's the point! Caravan towing mirrors are all about extending your rear driving visibility, and when fitted well they will help you feel safer, more in control and with a full view of the roads.
Adapting to the new reality
One of the biggest differences when towing a caravan is the extra width and length you’re now carrying behind you. This is important to keep in mind before heading out on the road. You’re longer, wider and heavier than normal and need to adapt your driving style to suit these new towing conditions.
From accelerating to merging, overtaking and reversing, everything will take more time, patience and require greater visibility to negotiate safely. And here, having caravan towing mirrors is key.
In most states in Australia, by law, you are required to fit rear-view mirrors to your tow vehicle. And the reason for this is simple. Towing mirrors extend a driver’s rear vision, giving them full vision of their caravan from behind, and surrounding road and traffic conditions. This helps improve driving judgement, helping you can see when is the best time to make safe manoeuvres in and out of traffic, without affecting traffic conditions.
Caravan towing mirror types
There are two main types of towing mirrors you can choose from:
- Portable towing mirrors: Portable towing mirrors can be clipped, fitted or suctioned temporarily to your tow vehicle’s side mirrors. Light, cheap and easy to fit to your tow vehicle, they're a great short-term solution for infrequent caravan use. The downside, however, is they aren’t as robust as permanent towing mirrors, and can be more affected by buffeting by passing trucks or strong wind conditions outside.
- Permanent towing mirrors: Permanent towing mirrors are a better solution for regular caravanners looking for maximum tow visibility and long-term use. Fitted permanently to your tow vehicle, they are a full replacement for your side mirrors. They tend to be larger, stronger and fitted with more tech features than portable towing mirror options. They are also more convenient, robust, and don’t require storage at the end of a trip.
Fitting your mirrors
When fitting towing mirrors, you want to make sure they are adjusted to the optimum veiwing angle for both full rear visibility of your caravan and traffic on both sides.
- Portable, clip-on mirrors: these come with installation instructions that you need to follow closely to get the right adjustment angle. They also come with storage instructions that will show you how to remove them quickly, easily and pack them away safely.
To see how easy it can be to attach and remove some clip on mirrors, check out this great video In Focus – Towing Mirrors.
- Permanent mirrors: professional installation is the standard when having permanent mirrors attached to your tow vehicle. This is to ensure they are correctly adjusted and affixed firmly. For more information talk to your local caravan dealer about what permenant mirrors they would recommend for your caravan.
Testing your mirrors
Once your mirrors are fitted, you want to ensure they:
- attach firmly to your tow vehicle and don’t flip back
- swivel horizontally or vertically
- extend to the right viewing position
- can fold inwards, towards your vehicle, when in narrow spaces
- and (if portable) can be taken off quickly and packed away neatly
And most importantly that you can see both sides of your caravan to the rear with no blind spots.
For maximum visibility, you can also consider a two-mirror option, which offers a manual bottom mirror and top electrically operated mirrorin one design. This is fully adjustable, taking all viewing angles into account, and makes it easier to adjust to give you almost 360° visibility.
Add to the mix...
As well as towing mirrors, reversing cameras are a great aid to help guide you safely into camp sites and parking spots. They should always, however, be accompanied with caravan towing mirrors and, where possible, a friend or partner to be your second sight when on the road.
With these accompaniments, you should have full confidence with negotiating traffic and staying safe on your next caravan road trip. And that's a great reflection you want to cast for every trip!
Want to know what else it takes to tow your caravan safely on the road? Download our free ebook 10 steps to becoming a caravan towing pro.