How To Properly Use RV Mirrors

Understanding how to properly use your RV mirrors is imperative for safe RV driving.

Whether going cross country or just taking your RV down the road, proper mirror etiquette can be the difference between a safe trip and an unnecessary accident.

To learn more about how to properly use RV mirrors, continue reading below.

The Importance of Mirror Checks

Mirror checks should be done every time a new driver enters an RV.

Whether the vehicle is owned or rented, mirror checks are the first step to ensuring safety on the road. 

Since it is much easier to see dangerous objects and situations when you have a clear field of vision, frequent mirror checks will help prevent accidents.

Doing frequent mirror checks can:

  • Allow for a greater field of vision with multiple mirrors
  • Greatly reduce any possible blind spots in the RV
  • Minimize the opportunity to back into people or other cars 
  • Prevent the sideswiping of bicycles or parked vehicles

using camper mirrors

The best way to do a successful mirror check is to:

  • Adjust the convex mirrors
  • Adjust the driver’s seat to a comfortable upright position
  • Adjust the steering wheel to a convenient height
  • Adjust your flat mirrors

When you have adjusted all of your internal cabin items correctly and performed a thorough mirror check, then you can start learning how to use your mirrors.

The Many Mirrors in Your RV

There are many different mirrors and mirror attachments available for RVs.

Depending on exactly what type and model of RV you drive, your options will vary.

Some of the basic mirrors on your RV include the following:

  • Bottom Adjustable Mirrors: A bottom adjustable mirror is the moveable part of your RV exterior mirror. It can be slanted from side to side independently of your large exterior mirror to create a greater field of depth.
  • Left and Right Mirrors: Left and right mirrors are similar to RV exterior mirrors but can be used as additions for more rear view visibility in addition to your existing RV mirrors.
  • Rearview Mirror: The rearview mirror in an RV is similar to that of a car. Not all RVs, however, have rear windshield visibility. For this reason, rearview mirrors are not the most commonly used mirror in an RV.
  • RV Convex Towing Mirror: This convex-shaped mirror is an extendable mirror that can be attached as an add-on to the side mirror of your RV. It is also easily removable for storage when needed.
  • RV Exterior Mirror: Your RV exterior mirrors are the big rectangular mirrors directly outside the driver’s and passenger’s windows of your RV. They often have rounded corners and anywhere from one to three different section panels. These panels sometimes have magnifying mirrors to enlarge objects in the distance.

Adjusting Your Driver’s Seat

To properly use your RV mirrors, you must first adjust your driver’s seat.

Strong driver posture is essential to proper driving habits and successful RV mirror use.

Step 1: Adjust your seat height by raising the seat until your hips and knees are in line.

This means that your pelvis should be relatively in line with your femur bones.

You should be able to see the road without having to crank your head down.

Step 2: Adjust your seat back towards the front of the RV until you can reach the foot pedals.

You should be able to reach all pedals easily with your right foot without scooting away from your chair. 

Your knees should bend to about 20 or 30 degrees.

Step 3: Adjust your spine support.

Your rib cage and thoracic, or middle spine, should be against the seat.

The back of the chair should reach your shoulders and your head should rest gently against the headrest.

Adjusting Your Regular Mirrors

After you have adjusted your driver’s seat, it is time to adjust your mirrors.

To adjust your mirrors for best use when driving your RV, you should consider:

  • Loosening your mirror bolts and adjusting your fixed side mirrors before tightening the bolts down again.
  • Sit in the driver’s seat while a friend or assistant adjusts your side mirror frames. They should be secured at a point where you can see the edge of the RV and the lane to either side of you. 
  • Repeat this process for the magnifier mirrors.
  • Use Allen wrench bolts to lock the mirrors into place.
  • If your RV allows for a rearview mirror, sit in the driver’s seat and adjust it with your right hand. You should be able to see the horizon of the road behind you through the available window. The ideal range of vision is 8 to 10 feet behind the vehicle.

Once you are finished adjusting your regular RV mirrors for safety and accuracy, you can move on to adjusting your convex mirrors.

Adjusting Your Convex Mirrors

Despite their flexible quality, adjusting your convex mirrors can be equally paramount to adjusting your RV’s regular mirrors.

To adjust your convex mirrors you can:

  • Pull them as far away from the side of the RV as possible without detaching them.
  • Check to see that you have a complete view of the lanes to your left and your right. You should see the dotted line on either side of the adjacent lane.

This will ensure that when you change lanes in your RV, you won’t accidentally merge into another passing vehicle.

Having convex mirrors and adjusting them properly will eliminate many common RV blind spots.

Make Sure to Mark Your Mirrors

When it comes to changing lanes, marking your mirrors is another great way to ensure safety.

Marked mirrors will help the RV driver to judge when another vehicle has passed and when there is space for the driver to pass in front.

This is particularly useful when towing.

To mark your mirrors for ease of changing lanes, you can do the following:

  • Step 1: Hook up a tow, such as a small vehicle, to your RV.
  • Step 2: Have a friend or helper stand to the side of your tow car.
  • Step 3: On your large regular side mirror, use a marker or piece of tape to mark your friend’s knees.
  • Step 4: Repeat on the second side.

Taking these precautions will allow you to tow in confidence and change lanes knowing that no other vehicles are hiding out of view.

Using Your Correctly Placed Mirrors

After all of your RV mirrors are properly adjusted and perfectly placed, you can start to use them.

Make sure to look in each mirror before changing lanes. 

Lane changing should be done by starting with the right and left side mirrors, then the convex mirrors.

Afterward, look in the rearview mirror.

Repeat this series twice each time you change lanes to the left or the right.

When reversing, make sure to check the rearview mirror first.

If you see a vehicle, person, or object, wait until they have passed.

Then, check the rearview again followed by the side mirrors and convex mirrors. 

If you are still having trouble seeing when backing up, ask a friend to help you from outside the RV.

While your mirrors should suffice, increased safety is always a good idea.

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