They give you eyes in the back of your head
Start by adjusting the car’s ordinary rear-view mirrors before you hit the road, so that you can clearly see what’s happening behind you. (Don’t adjust the mirrors while driving.) Adjust all three rear-view mirrors – the ones on the right and left side as well as the one in the middle – so that you have the widest possible view to the back and still limit the blind spots to a mimimum. Adjust the side mirrors so that you can barely see the coachwork. If you can see quite a bit of the caravan (or yourself!) in the side mirrors, they’re angled too far inward, creating huge blind spots on both sides of your car. The entire rear window must be visible in the inside rear-view mirror.
of driving. Say, for argument’s sake, you’re towing in the city for an hour, and in that time you have to look in your rearview mirrors about 554 times – according to the five-to-eight-seconds principle.
Suppose this is a continuous trip without you having time to stop, and that it takes a second to look in the three rearview mirrors each time. You will have spent almost half an hour – a full 28 minutes – on looking back!
HOW BLIND CAN THAT SPOT BE?
With the mirrors properly adjusted, you shouldn’t have much of a blind spot. A simple test is to sit in your parked car and look in the rear view mirrors while someone walks around the car. Take note of when and where you cannot see him or her in the mirrors. The two most probable blind spots are on either side of the back of the car – right at the corners and almost vertical to the sides. An effective way to get rid of these spots is to fit some of those small blind-spot mirrors onto the existing mirrors. You can get them from any Midas store. In new cars, the blind-spot function is often incorporated in the mirrors.
WHERE DO THE TOWING MIRRORS FIT IN?
By law, your car must be fitted with rear-view mirrors that offer an unobstructed view of traffic behind you in “fair weather” conditions. Furthermore, legally, if what you are towing is wider than your towing vehicle, you must fit towing mirrors. People are quite often fined for transgressions in this regard.
If you calculate the average width of three sedans such as a Mercedes-benz C200, a Subaru Outback and the previous model Volkswagen Jetta, you’ll get to 1,79 m. The average width of three caravans – the Jurgens Exclusive, Sprite Splash and Gypsey Romany – is 2,22 m. You could therefore justly say that the average sedan towing vehicle is about 22 cm narrower than the average caravan. You will therefore need to fit towing mirrors.
The average width of bigger bakkies such as the older Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara and Ford Ranger is 1,95 m. Bush caravans such as the Conqueror Commander, Echo Kavango or Imagine Comfortline are about just as wide. Legal all the way. (However, if these bakkies tow a road caravan, towing mirrors are still required.)
The general rule of thumb is: The bigger your rear-view mirrors in relation to the area that they cover, the better. A useful calculation state that for every 3 m that your towing combination is long, your mirror should be 2,5 cm in diameter. A 15 m combination would therefore require a mirror diameter of 12,5 cm.
If you use towing mirrors in addition to your ordinary external rear-view mirrors, you will certainly be able to see well enough behind you. And this includes keeping an eye on the wheels of your caravan as well.
When you can reverse your vehicle by relying on the rear-view mirrors only – without Mom having to impersonate a windmill behind your caravan – then you pass towing on higher grade. Here are a few tips for those who don’t yet know the ropes:
First, do a recce. Before you start to reverse, first walk to the space into which you wish to reverse so you can take note of any taps, holes or low branches.
Other right. When you reverse, everything works the opposite way. If you turn the steering from top centre to the right, the back of the vehicle will turn to the right, but the caravan will go to the left.
It takes a while to get used to this and you will have to practice it a few times on a quiet stretch of road before you get the hang of it.
Let the caravan disappear. An easy rule for reversing straight: If you can see your caravan in a side-mirror, turn the steering in the direction of that same mirror and the caravan will return to a straight line.
Hand signs, please. If you reverse with the help of an assistant, he should stand where you can clearly see him in the rearview mirror on a particular side. It’s better for him to point in the direction in which you must reverse than shouting “left” or “right” from way back there. It can be confusing to figure out whether you must turn right or reverse to the right.
DO AS LOT’S WIFE...
Mirrors make things easier, especially when towing, but never solely rely on what you can see in the mirror. Even though you may have made certain that you have a clear view right around your vehicle combo, smaller vehicles such as motorbikes may lie hidden outside the scope of your mirrors.
Glimpse briefly over your shoulder just to make sure one last time. Remember that the vision in a mirror is two-dimensional. Looking back keeps you in check while aiming ahead.
Internet sources: Wikipedia, Smartmotorist, Howstuffworks, Wikihow, Website-repairguy.
If you can see a large section of your vehicle and caravan’s coachwork in your rearview mirrors, the mirrors have been angled too far inward and you’re going to have large blind spots in your rear view.
Adjust the rear-view mirrors so that you can only just not see the coachwork of your vehicle – only the sides of the caravan. Any blind spots are now minimal.
If your rear-view mirrors are angled too far outward so that you cannot see any of the vehcile or caravan’s coachwork, the mirrors are adjusted too wide.