What are Towing Mirrors?
Towing a trailer is great fun, but only when you can see it. This is why towing mirrors are so absolutely necessary on any truck that will pull weight. Tow mirrors extend outward further than a standard truck mirror, which dramatically increases the driver's rearward vision. This means that watching that empty car or boat trailer becomes a regular occurrence instead of the always exciting "where did the trailer go?" game. If your trailer has something on it, like a candy-colored fishing boat for example, you will want to keep it in your peripheral vision at all times because it's sparkly and pleasant to look at. A nice pair of extension mirrors for towing will allow you to do this. The only challenge for those of you upgrading to trailer towing mirrors will be deciding which options are best suited for your truck, so let's go over some of those so you can make a more informed decision.
Manual Towing Mirrors
Manual tow mirrors are the most basic design, and they are an easy upgrade to do in your own driveway. Like all manual mirrors, they don't have any wiring. This makes the already simple installation of a mirror even easier. On most trucks (and cars for that matter), removal of the door panel is all that is needed to access the bolts holding the tow mirror on. If you can remove a door panel, you can most certainly upgrade to a towing mirror.
Power Towing Mirrors
Power towing mirrors are the next logical step up from manual towing mirrors. Power mirrors often look identical to the manual mirror, but they have electronics inside them, and two or three wires hanging out of their base. These wires plug into the door wiring on the truck, which is woven through the door and connects to the power mirror switch. Whether it is a replacement or an upgrade, installation of a power tow mirror is often as easy as a manual tow mirror, with very little trickery involved.
Telescoping / Telescopic / Extendable Towing Mirrors
It would be impossible to discuss trailer towing mirrors without bringing up the topic of telescoping mirrors. Telescoping (also known as "telescopic" or "extendable") mirrors are a type of tow mirror that can extend out from the sides of the vehicle to increase rearward vision. This feature is most commonly found on towing mirror applications, because it isn't needed on the smaller standard-sized side view mirrors. Telescoping mirrors could have all the same options as the non-telescopic mirrors, like power, manual, puddle light, turn signal, folding, etc, but they are just bigger and badder. The manual telescopic mirrors need to be extended out with physical human strength. The powered ones, on the other hand, are more fun because you can sit inside the comforts of your air conditioned truck while pushing a button to make the mirrors extend outward. Just make sure you don't do this with bicyclists or pedestrians around because they wouldn't expect or appreciate this automotive gesture. Nobody wants to be clobbered by an extending mirror.
Telescopic mirrors can be a terrific upgrade if a truck already has towing mirrors, but needs just a little more vision for whatever it is towing. Tow mirror extensions also make a truck appear much bigger, which is always nice when comparing your truck to the neighbor's.
Turn Signal / Directional Tow Mirrors
Some of the fancier trucks on the road come with towing mirrors that have some elaborate options built into them. One of these options is turn signals. These turn signals/directionals can be built into the glass itself or molded into the mirror's plastic housing. Being that these are higher end mirrors, these types of trailer tow mirrors often have other options, as well, like puddle lights, and heat. As you can imagine, as the options stack up, the price follows.Some trucks were never built with a turn signal mirror option, yet the truck owners want them. Luckily for them, the mirror manufacturers are listening, and creating mirrors with extra long wires that splice into the truck's turn signal harness. This may sound complicated, and it can be, but if you are the type of person that really enjoys cool features, and additional safety when towing, then it is totally worth it. If a truck did have this option from the factory with the standard size mirrors, the larger tow mirror wiring harnesses are often designed to plug right in without any drama. Unfortunately this completely depends on the year, make, and model of the truck.
Universal Clip on Mirrors
Universal clip-on tow mirrors are a very inexpensive way to add towing mirrors to your vehicle with almost zero effort. They are designed to snap directly onto the smaller factory mirrors to give you additional rearward vision. Because they are clip on, they obviously don't have many of the other features that the bolt-on trailer tow mirrors do. They are incredibly easy to install, and later remove, when a trailer isn't in tow. While the aesthetics of these may not be the most desirable of the bunch, the convenience and price of the clip-on towing mirror can't really be beat.
Need Replacement Towing Mirrors or Just Looking to Upgrade?
At 1A Auto, we're here to help you get the right replacement towing mirror or upgrade for your truck, SUV or van. You can browse our large selection of aftermarket side view mirrors and shop right here on 1AAuto.com or, if you have any questions about the product, warranty, compatibility, or simply prefer to order via phone, you can call our customer service toll free at 888-844-3393.
Written By: Jeremy Nutt